The 2020 model year sees BMW roll out the BMW X3 M, the first-ever high-performance version of the brand's popular compact crossover.
You may scoff at the idea of a fast X3, but consider this: BMW launched the mid-size X5 M 10 years ago to compete with speedy SUVs from Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Meanwhile, Benz and Porsche beat BMW to the high-stakes world of compact high-speed utilities a few years back with performance-tuned versions of their respective GLC-Class and Macan models.
Now it's the X3's turn. Every X3 M derives its power from a 3.0L turbocharged six-cylinder engine that makes 473 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque in base form. An optional Competition package frees up about 30 hp and extends the torque peak to 5,950 rpm, up from the base engine's 5,600-rpm peak.
All X3 M models put their power to the ground through an eight-speed automatic transmission and the xDrive all-wheel drive system.
Lest you think BMW crazy for throwing its M division's expertise at yet another crossover, consider the competition: The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S gets 503 hp and 516 lb-ft from a twin-turbo V8, while the Porsche Macan Turbo tops out at "just" 440 hp and 442 lb-ft. Italy's Alfa Romeo Stelvio boasts 505 hp and 443 lb-ft from a 2.9L turbo V6, while the Jaguar F-Pace SVT outpowers the bunch with a 5.0L supercharged V8 good for 550 hp and 502 lb-ft.
Whether you like crossovers and SUVs or not, get used to them. Eventually, you probably won't have much else to choose from, so in another 10 or 20 years, if you want to go fast, you'll either have to drive a quick crossover or get running lessons from Superman.
X3 M comes standard with 20-inch wheels and tires in staggered widths, meaning the rears are wider than the fronts. Your choice of black or beige leather upholstery is standard, and you can option up to an extended Merino leather package in black, grey, orange, tartufo or ivory. BMW will put cove or poplar grey wood or high-gloss black on the dash along with satin chrome, or aluminum carbon with pearl chrome. The extra cost choice is carbon fibre.
Other standard kit includes auto-dimming rear- and side mirrors, panoramic sunroof, ambient lighting, power seats with driver memory, heated front seats and steering wheel, leatherette dashboard trim, adaptive headlights, blind spot warning, forward collision warning with city-speed automatic braking, rear cross traffic alert, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors and rear collision prevention.
Other options include an advanced driver assist package with stop-and-go cruise control, semi-autonomous steering with lane control, active lane keeping assist, front cross traffic warning, evasion aid and a cross-road warning.
An M Enhanced package bundles 21-inch wheels, extended Merino leather in your choice of colour, an M Sport exhaust system and M Sport seats.
A Premium package brings heated rear seats, rear side sunshades, head-up display, parking assistant, surround view exterior cameras, wireless smartphone charging, a wi-fi hotspot, upgraded stereo and the BMW display key.
As of this writing, BMW had not published fuel consumption estimates for the X3 M.