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The X3 M Competition is one with copious amounts of power and driving abilities to challenge the performance sedan.

04 Nov 2019

Performance SUV. On one hand, hardly any car enthusiasts will fall in love with one. They could even go to the extent of telling you how pointless this sort of car is, considering a performance sedan or coupe will always be dynamically superior.

On the other, there's the tree-hugging, electric-loving green folks who'll petition for a complete ban of a petrol-guzzling performance vehicle, justifying how uneconomical and outright dangerous it is for drivers to own.

This is the first time that BMW has made the X3 as a full on M model

However, with the idea of a performance SUV already questionable, it seems BMW M has thrown caution to the wind by creating the X3 M Competition.

Don't we already have the M40i?

This is the first time BMW is offering the X3 with an M badge. It isn't just to please the badge conscious, either. This is a full on BMW M effort and it's very different from the M40i.

The twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six engine in the X3 M Competition is all new, and will also found in the next generation M3

For instance, it sports a new 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged straight-six lump that produces a mind-numbing 503bhp and 600Nm of torque. This engine will find its way to the next generation BMW M3.

Similar to the BMW M5, the SUV that you see here is equipped with a rear-biased four-wheel drive system. It even shares the same gearknob as the M5 - so does other bits of the interior, like the red M buttons on the steering wheel.

So we put it on the racetrack

Thus, behind the wheel, you do feel that it isn't just a tuned up X3. It is quite a highly-strung animal and on the 15-turn Kyalami Circuit in South Africa, it shows.

The X3 M Competition sports the same red M buttons on the steering wheel like the M5

Out of the pits and on the throttle, there is no doubt that the X3 M is indeed rapid. But it doesn't offer an immediate, intense surge of torque as 600Nm might suggest. It's more linear, and a rewarding amount of power is offered when you build the revs. M car aficionados will be pleased with this.

On the straights, the X3 M will hit the 100km/h in a speedy four seconds. Just as swiftly as it builds up speed, the brakes do a good job in shedding velocity steadily and quickly despite the car's weight of close to two tonnes.

There's no denying the fact that the X3 M Competition behaves like an SUV around corners, but it offers a ton of grip

Around sweeping corners, you'd assume that you'll be hurtling forwards in a cloud of understeer smoke, but that never happens. Body roll is slightly apparent but there's lots of grip, and the car just turns tightly with little drama. For an SUV, this is quite surprising.

Corner kerbs never seem to upset the X3 M either, and somehow the car just wafts over them, seemingly unfazed and certainly assuring.

The X3 M Competition can still keep up the pace on the track with the rest of the cars despite its proportions

Over all, the X3 M offers the precise and predictable drive just like an M car should. It isn't as sharp a tool as an M2 Competition, but it manages to defy the laws of SUV physics enough to put a smile on your face every time.

This is the fast SUV to get?

Even though we drove the X3 M only on the track, we figured that this isn't your ordinary, souped-up SUV. It offers a high level of agility and strength that one will expect from a car with an M badge.

The X3 M Competition is quite special, and is certainly a performance SUV worthy of consideration

But in reality, the less powerful X3 M40i is already fast enough for most, and the added dynamism and power the X3 M offer might just be a tad over the top. At $461,888 (as of 3 November 2019), it commands a $140,000 premium over the M40i too.

Yes, it goes against so many ideals in this climate of doom and gloom. But its lunacy and ridiculousness is what makes the X3 M such a joyful car. BMW M has certainly made one performance SUV that's worthy of consideration.

Performance SUV. Can't live with them, can't live without them.

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