Once upon a time, you’d need to choose between a versatile SUV for everyday driving and a sporty, powerful saloon for driving thrills. Then someone at BMW had the bright idea of giving the X3 the performance of an M3. The result is the BMW X3 M Competition, an SUV with the heart and soul of a track car.
If you’re choosing a rare beast like the X3 M Competition, you’d want the world to know all about it, right? So the iconic kidney grille gets a sportier update with M double slats and a high-gloss black finish. 21-inch M light alloy wheels in bicolour V-spoke design are complemented by large hexagonal air intakes in the front bumper, while quad M Sport exhaust finishers and side gills provide further clues to the onlooker that this is no ordinary SUV. Inside, you enjoy heated and electric M seats in full Merino leather, with an M-style cockpit and head-up display as standard.
At the heart of the X3 M Competition is a six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine that develops 503bhp and 600Nm of torque, rocketing the BMW from standstill to 62mph in just 4.1 seconds. BMW claims that the 3D printed parts for the indirect intercooling and oil systems deliver superior efficiency along with track-tested reliability under extreme conditions. Unlike the M5 saloon you can’t choose rear-drive mode as all-wheel drive is permanently selected but as the set-up includes the M Active Differential, which helps the driver to experience the thrill of rear-wheel bias driving you’re not likely to miss it. Together with the unique M specification chassis and adaptive suspension the result is sportier and more visceral than you’d imagine possible from a five-seater SUV.
As the X3 M Competition is the performance flagship of the X3 range you’d expect a full specification and won’t be disappointed. Highlights include head-up driver display as well as the latest ConnectedDrive navigation package and iDrive Controller for the 10.25” colour touchscreen. The audio system features harmon/kardon loudspeakers and acoustic side glazing gives the interior a refined and relaxing ambience…driver permitting.
Active safety systems are an important part of every manufacturers safety strategy and are vital for delivering the coveted 5-star EuroNCAP rating. The X3 M Competition features Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning, Speed Limit Info, Parking Assistant and Reversing Assist Camera as standard. The standard-fit cruise control also has a braking function, while the optional Driving Assistant Plus gives an extra degree of assistance for security during complex or monotonous driving situations.
Verdict: the day has long gone when ‘performance’ and ‘SUV’ were mutually exclusive terms. If you love the purity of M Sport vehicles and high performance but need a practical five-door SUV for the day to day stuff, the X3 M Competition is the ultimate in all-rounders. And although it’s priced as the flagship of the range, you can console yourself with the thought you’re getting two BMWs for the price of one.