The popular X3 is finally available with M-rated performance and features

The 2020 BMW X3 M is the high-performance version of the company’s popular compact SUV. The M-badged crossover arrived a full 16 years after the X3 made its debut and enables BMW to compete with beefed-up versions of the Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5. Alongside the X3 M, BMW also introduced a higher-spec Competition model. The highly anticipated X3 M arrived to put an end to more than a decade of speculation. Rumored ever since the crossover arrived in showrooms back in 2003, the X3 M is finally here to take on the Mercedes-AMG GLC63. The Competition model boasts a bit more power and extra standard features, which places it in the same league with the AMG GLC63 S.

  • 2020 BMW X3 M
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-6
  • Transmission:
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    473 @ 5600
  • Torque @ RPM:
    442 @ 2600
  • Displacement:
    3.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.1 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    55000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    8.2/10

2020 BMW X3 M Exterior

  • Aggressive looks
  • Bigger bumper vents
  • Blacked-out grille
  • Lowered ride height
  • Unique wheels
  • Sporty diffuser
  • Quad-exhaust tailpipes
  • Optional CFRP features
2020 BMW X3 M
- image 822471
Go with the Competition upgrade and the entire grille becomes black for a more menacing look

As expected, the X3 M looks like a more aggressive version of the latest X3. Stepping in the footsteps of its larger sibling, the X5 M, the X3 M boasts a blacked out grille, larger vents in the front bumper, and standard LED headlamps. While the side vents are still similar to the standard X3, the center outlet is downright impressive. Not only larger in all directions, it also sports an aggressive hexagonal shape with sharp corners and a really wide center section. Go with the Competition upgrade and the entire grille becomes gloss-black for a more menacing look.

Onto the sides, we can see how the X3 M sits a tad lower than the regular model and features a few extras, like black window trim and mirror caps and 20-inch wheels in a cool, twin-spoke design. The Competition model also features black M gills on the front fenders and larger, 21-inch wheels finished in polished black.

2020 BMW X3 M
- image 822476
The optional M Carbon exterior package adds CFRP air intakes, air blades, mirror caps, and rear diffuser

The rear fascia boasts typical BMW M aggressiveness as well, thanks to a larger tailgate spoiler and a revised lower bumper with an integrated diffuser. Finished in black, it provides a cool contrast with the rest of the rear end. Like any M-spec model, the diffuser integrates a four-pipe exhaust layout with two outlets on each side.

The optional M Carbon exterior package replaces the standard front air intakes, air blades, mirror caps, and rear diffuser with carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) elements.

Overall, the X3 M looks really cool, especially in Competition trim, but it’s exactly what I expected it to be ever since I saw the latest-generation X3. I definitely prefer this design to the Mercedes-AMG GLC63.

2020 BMW X3 M - Exterior Dimensions

Length inches 186.2
Height inches 65.6
Width inches 74.7
Wheelbase inches 112.8
Ground clearance inches 8.0

2020 BMW X3 M Interior

  • Standard Vernasca leather
  • M steering wheel
  • M gear selector
  • Sports seats
  • Heads-up display
  • Optional Merino leather
  • Carbon-fiber trim
  • Same cargo room as X3
  • More space than most competitors
2020 BMW X3 M
- image 822509
You won’t find any cloth in this SUV, as almost all surfaces are wrapped in fine Vernasca leather

Step inside the X3 M, and you won’t notice too many differences design-wise. The layout is basically identical, but there’s a notable difference when it comes to features and materials. You won’t find any cloth in this SUV, as almost all surfaces are wrapped in fine Vernasca leather. There’s leather on the M steering wheel and M gear shift selector as well. One thing I don’t like though is that the steering wheel is identical to the one in the M40i model. This takes away some of the X3 M’s exclusivity.

But there are plenty of premium features to look for, like electrically adjustable sports seats, ConnectedDrive navigation package with Navigation system Professional, and a hi-fi audio system. The 10.2-inch touchscreen atop the dashboard features custom graphics, as does the 12.3-inch instrument cluster. The full-color heads-up display, the Ambient Air package, three-zone automatic climate control, and ambient lighting are also standard.

2020 BMW X3 M
- image 822520
The M package doesn’t impact the X3’s cargo capacity so you get the same 56.5 cubic feet behind the front seats

Select the X3 Competition model and Vernasca leather makes way for an extended Merino leather package. This version also comes with unique door sill plates and a model nameplate on the center console. If the Merino upholstery isn’t fancy enough for you, BMW offers a bi-color option with Alcantara inserts. The Competition SUV also has shift paddles with red M1/M2 buttons, carbon-fiber trim on the door panels, and illuminated M logo on seats. The digital services from BMW Connected and BMW ConnectedDrive can be selected from the options list.

The M package doesn’t impact the X3’s cargo capacity so you get the same 19.4 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 56.5 cubic feet behind the front seats. That’s on par with the Mercedes-Benz GLC, which comes with identical ratings, but an extra 1.8 and 3.5 cubic liters when compared to the Porsche Macan Turbo. On the other hand, the X3 M falls behind the Jaguar F-Pace SVR, which offers an extra 3.6 cubic feet behind the second-row seats and an additional 4.9 cubic feet behind the front seats. That’s a pretty big difference, as it places the F-Pace closer to the larger X5.

2020 BMW X3 M - Interior Dimensions

Headroom front/rear inches 41.1/39.1
Legroom front/rear inches 40.4/36.4
Shoulder room front/rear inches 57.6/56.0
Trunk volume (SAE) ft³ 28.7 – 62.7

2020 BMW X3 M Drivetrain

  • New 3.0-liter inline-six
  • 473 horsepower
  • 442 pound-feet
  • 503-horsepower Competition model
  • 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds
  • Most powerful inline-six from BMW
  • 8-speed M Steptronic
  • AWD system
2020 BMW X3 M
- image 822615
The new powerplant generates 473 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque

While the X5 M still has a big V-8 under the hood, the X3 M comes with a smaller 3.0-liter inline-six. The twin-turbo unit is a brand-new development and generates more power than the inline-six in X3 M40i. Actually, it cranks out more oomph than the 3.0-liter in the M3, which makes it the most powerful six-cylinder ever offered in a Bimmer. Specifically, the powerplant generates 473 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque.

That’s a massive, 118-horsepower and 73-pound-foot increase over the M40i, but the X3 M also benefits from an extra 48 horsepower and 36 pound-feet when compared to the M3. The M3 CS is no match for this crossover either, as it offers an extra 19 horsepower, although it falls behind by just one pound foot.

The X3 M Competition is even more powerful, generating a whopping 503 horsepower, while torque remains the same at 442 pound-feet. This two-model setup enables the X3 M to better compete with the Mercedes-AMG GLC, available in base and S trim. The GLC63 features a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 rated at 469 horsepower, four less than the X3 M, while the GLC63 S comes with 503 horses, on par with the X3 M Competition.

2020 BMW X3 M
- image 822496
The X3 M hits 60 mph in 4.1 seconds

The German SUV is also a bit more powerful than the Porsche Macan Turbo as well, which is rated at 434 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. However, the X3 M is no match for the Jaguar F-Pace SVR and its massive and supercharged 5.0-liter V-8, which cranks out a whopping 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of twist.

Not only powerful, the X3 M is quick too. The base model hits 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, while the Competition version gets there in four seconds flat. These figures make it almost a half-second slower than the AMG GLC63 though, but on par with the Macan Turbo. The X3 M is also just as quick as the more powerful F-Pace SVR as well, which has an official rating of 4.1 seconds.

2020 BMW X3 M
- image 822477
The AWD system has a rear-wheel bias and two driving modes

When it comes to top speed, the X3 M is limited to the usual 155 mph, which puts it on par with the competition, but below the F-Pace SVR’s impressive 176-mph rating. However, the Competition model might do better than 155 mph. We’re still waiting for specs in this department.

Just like the rest of M models out there, the X3 M features an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic. However, the M-spec xDrive all-wheel-drive system is shared with the latest M5, making the X3 M the second vehicle to have it. This system has a rear-wheel bias and two AWD driving modes, and splits the power and torque between the four wheels as needed in order to deliver optimal traction and stability no matter the conditions.

One thing worth noting is that this new inline-six engine, called the S58, will find its way in at least three upcoming BMW M vehicles. The next-gen M3 and M4, set to debut sometime in 2019, are next in line, but we will also find it in the next-generation M2. Specs are likely to be similar in the M3 and M4, but the M2 will feature a detuned version. The upcoming X2 M could also come with this powerplant. The same engine is already available in the X4 M, which debuted alongside the X3 M.

2020 BMW X3 M - drivetrain specifications

BMW X3 M BMW X3 M Competition
Engine 3.0 liter 6-cylinder M TwinPower Turbo 3.0 liter 6-cylinder M TwinPower Turbo
Horsepower 473 HP @ 5,600-7,300 RPM 503 HP @ 5,950-7,300 RPM
Torque 442 LB-FT @ 2,600-5,500 RPM 442 LB-FT @ 2,600-5,500 RPM
Transmission 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
0 to 60 mph 4.1 seconds 4.0 seconds
Top Speed mph 155 155

2020 BMW X3 M Chassis, Suspension and Brakes

2020 BMW X3 M
- image 822456

Just like the regular X3, the X3 M rides on a double-joint spring strut front axle and five-link rear axle. However, the SUV comes with an M-specific setup with adaptive dampers for enhanced precision and directional stability.

The three settings controlling the dampers offer comfort, maximum dynamics, or a combination of both.

The X3 M also features a DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system that allows controlled wheel slip in M Dynamic Mode. Optional Head-Up Display will enable you to store two set-up options via the iDrive menu so you can activate them using the two M buttons on the steering wheel.

Stopping power comes from M compound brakes that are notably larger than the standard X3.

2020 BMW X3 M Prices

2020 BMW X3 M
- image 822521

There’s no pricing information to run by as of this writing, but the fact that the X3 M will be the most expensive version of the X3 range is already a fact. A sticker in excess of $65,000 is very likely.

2020 BMW X3 M Competition

Mercedes-AMG GLC63

2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC63 Exterior High Resolution
- image 721568

The AMG GLC63 is already available, but it’s brand-new for the 2018 model year. Beefed up in a similar fashion, the AMG version sports a significantly more aggressive exterior compared to the standard model, while the interior gets a host of unique luxury features. Under the hood, it’s the only vehicle in this niche to still use a V-8, in the form of a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter unit. Sounds familiar? It should because it’s the same engine available in almost all AMG models nowadays. With specific revisions for each vehicle of course. As usual, two flavors are available. There’s a "base" GLC63 rated at 469 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque and a GLC63 S version good for a solid 503 horses and 516 pound-feet of twist. The GLC63 S is not yet available in the U.S., but the "base" GLC63 retails from $69,900.

Read our full review of the Mercedes-AMG GLC63.

Porsche Macan Turbo

2015 - 2017 Porsche Macan High Resolution Exterior
- image 533141

Until Audi delivers an RS version of the Q5, the Porsche Macan Turbo is pretty much the only option available outside the Mercedes-AMG above. The most powerful iteration of the small German crossover, the Macan Turbo gets its juice from a twin-turbo, 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. That might not sound like a lot compared to the AMG GLC63, but when equipped with the Performance Package, the Macan Turbo benefits from 434 horsepower and 443 pound-feet on tap. The Performance Package also slashes the 0-to-60 mph sprint to only 4.2 seconds, while all-wheel-drive is standard for excellent dynamics and stability. Pricing for this model starts from $87,700, which isn’t cheap, but not overly expensive compared to its rivals.

Read our full story on the Porsche Macan Turbo.

Jaguar F-Pace SVR

2018 Jaguar F-Pace SVR Exterior
- image 775394

Launched for the 2018 model year, the F-Pace SVR is one of the most extreme crossovers in this niche. A more aggressive take on the F-Pace design-wise, the SVR looks quite menacing when compared to the X3 M, sporting massive intaes up front, a lowered ride height, and a diffuser with a quad-exhaust setup around back. The interior has been beefed up as well, now featuring sportier seats, carbon-fiber trim, and extra standard equipment. But it’s the drivetrain that sets this beast apart, as the supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8 engine delivers a whopping 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of twist. Getting to 60 mph takes only 4.1 seconds, while the top speed goes as high as 176 mph. Pricing starts from $79,990 in the United States.

Read our full review of the 2018 Jaguar F-Pace SVR.

Conclusion

2020 BMW X3 M
- image 822485

The X3 M is arguably one of the most anticipated and requested vehicles on the performance market. BMW fans have been clamoring for the X3 M ever since the first-generation SUV debuted and for some weird reason the Germans needed 16 years to bring one into dealerships. But it no longer matters why. The X3 M is here with a really powerful engine and solid performance specs. Not only it has what it takes to give the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 and Porsche Macan Turbo a run for their money, but it also comes really close to the Jaguar F-Pace SVR.

  • Leave it
    • Not the prettiest crossover
    • Pretty expensive
    • Tough competition

Further Reading

2019 BMW X4 Exterior
- image 768400

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW X4.

2018 BMW X3 High Resolution Exterior
- image 721390

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW X3.

2020 BMW X3 M and X4 M Unveiled, Brings More Than 500 Ponies In Competition Trim
- image 822158

Read our full review on the 2020 BMW X4 M.

Spy Shots

May 12, 2016 - BMW X3 M caught testing at the Nürburgring

2020 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
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2020 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
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2020 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
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April 28, 2016 - BMW X3 M caught testing in Munich

2020 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
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2020 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
- image 674315
2020 BMW X3 M Exterior Spyshots
- image 674306

Update History

Updated 04/28/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming BMW X3 M out for a first testing session on public roads in Germany as well as close to the M test center outside of Munich.

Updated 01/15/2015: In a recent interview offered at the 2015 Detroit Motor Show, BMW M chief Frank van Meel announced that both the X3 and the X4 are about to receive M versions. It should arrive in dealerships sometime in 2016.

Updated 01/28/2015: Based on the latest rumors, we’ve created a rendering for the future X3 M SUV. Check it out after the jump.

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