Review: 2022 BMW X3 M Competition



Words: Calvin Chan

Photography: Calvin Chan

Published: September 9, 2022

 



If you want a BMW M3 but can’t stand that beaver-tooth-shaped front grill, well there is a solution. This is the BMW X3 M Competition, and in many ways, it’s an M3 SUV.

 

It’s got the same 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged inline-six engine as the M3, and for 2022, power has been bumped up to 503 hp, and 479 lb-ft, an increase of 37 lb-ft from before. Paired with all-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic transmission, the X3 M Competition now rockets from 0-100 km/h in a staggering 3.8 seconds, three-tenths faster than before thanks to the newfound torque. The xDrive system can send 100% of power to the rear wheels too, it’s got larger brakes, a retuned suspension, and new front styling with updated interior switchgear.

 

 

We’ve never seen a better spec’d X3 on the road either. Urban Green comes off like a lighter shade of a military-type, camouflage green. It is very similar to the Autumn Green on the Subaru Outback, or the Army Green of the Toyota 4Runner, but the BMW’s is much richer in hue with more layers to the paint. For $3,900, it’s worth checking out, because when you’re already spending north of six figures on a car, you might as well make it unique, and BMW’s generous paint palette means you don’t have to settle for a generic, rental, re-sale spec.

 

 

That’s all nice and dandy on paper but does it all really translate to an M3 driving experience on the road? Absolutely. The X3 M Competition is absurdly quick. Acceleration is rampant the moment you feather the throttle, and it’s an engine that adores revving but is also smooth as silk - such is the inherent advantage of a straight-six motor. No engine in this segment is as polished - the V6s and V8s are so coarse by comparison.

 

 

We were never wanting on power or acceleration but we did want a more boisterous exhaust. The soundtrack here isn’t as loud or as reverberating as the M3, maybe due to the different exhaust and driver’s distance from it. It shouts in the same baritone frequency but with less volume. The 7,200 rpm is still exciting but it lacks the sense of occasion from say, a supercharged V8 from the Jaguar F-PACE SVR, or the bass of an AMG V8. Not even the titillating resonance of the Alfa’s V6.

 

 

As we discovered during our last drive with the 2020 X3 M and 2021 X4 M, these sporty SUVs deliver an impossibly stiff ride. BMW says they made it more compliant this time around for 2022 but we didn’t notice a difference, let alone any nuances between the suspension settings. It feels the same whether you’re in Comfort or Sport+ - punishing on anything but a smooth surface. Truthfully, driving the X3 M becomes taxing in everyday use, trundling over every bump and crevice the wheels find themselves on, to the point where you’re actively avoiding bumps on the road like one of those free-to-play phone games.

 

 

The flip side to that is its impressive cornering behaviour. Because it’s so stiff, the front end is willing to turn at any moment’s notice, and it’s backed up by grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tires. As a result, the X3 M is sharper than a Macan, quicker than a Stelvio, and more grounded than a GLC 63 S. It really does rotate like an all-wheel drive M3, just with an elevated ride height and slightly more body roll. You’re always aware of it being an SUV - you can never mask that - but how it manages its inherent weight penalties to deliver this kind of handling is nothing short of impressive. That, and the way it’s willing to kick out its rear end for some entry-corner drifts, and allow you to sustain it with some easy power-on oversteer. Despite its numb and somewhat anesthetized steering, the X3 M is certainly not lacking in driver involvement.

 


Those who want a softer ride will want to look at the X3 M40i instead, which is cheaper but also less hardcore in driver engagement. It’s the X3 you choose if you want a fast capable daily driver without the compromises. But the M is for those who want the spice of an M3 in their day-to-day life, wrapped in the unassuming guise of an SUV, and without that monstrous front grill.

 


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Specifications:

Model: 2022 BMW X3 M Competition

Paint Type: Urban Green
Base Price: $93,700

Price as Tested: $106,700
Wheelbase(mm): 2,864
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,716 / 1,897 / 1,669
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline-six
Horsepower: 503 hp @ 6,250 rpm
Torque: 479 lb-ft @ 2,750 - 5,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 13.5

Tires: 255/40R21 front; 265/40R21 rear; Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S

 



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