A High Output Machine
BMW has shown time and time again that it is not in the business of producing dull crossovers. Need further proof? For the first time, the company is rolling out an M version of the X3 Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV), which DARPAN recently had the opportunity to give a go.
Full disclosure — I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m not an SUV guy. A cliché statement for an automotive writer perhaps, but I usually prefer vehicles with a lower centre of gravity. However, every so often a model like the X3 M comes along successfully swaying my opinion some.
Making this high output machine move is the most powerful straight-six engine made by the company yet. The 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo mill pushes a total of 473 horses and 442 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. The exhaust note sounds raw and untamed upon acceleration, and frankly surprised me (in a good way) a little given the platform.
In typical BMW fashion, the xDrive all-wheel drive system is rear biased to provide a sportier ride, sending torque to any of the four corners when extra traction is needed, and helps the vehicle rocket from 0 to 100 km/h in a scant 4.2 seconds.
To tailor the motoring experience, users can select one of three different adjustable suspension settings providing various degrees of comfort and agility. None provide a truly bump-free experience — that’s what the normal X3 is for. Similarly, an M Dynamic Mode can be toggled on or off, the former allowing increased throttle response and controlled wheel slip for increased fun when the road turns windy.
The signature M treatment really kicks the SAV’s styling up a notch. A sensibly sized kidney grille and the big air intakes are perfectly proportioned, while 20-inch lightweight alloy wheels, unique badging and quad tailpipe M sport exhaust all set the model apart.
An optional M Carbon exterior package adds carbon fibre trim to the front bumper, mirror caps and rear valance. The unit BMW loaned us looked stunning in the dark Donington Grey Metallic paint colour. Inside, electric sport seats, Vernasca two-tone leather upholstery, M leather steering wheel and illuminated shift knob really give a visual pop, creating a luxurious and performance-oriented cabin. Our tester had the Premium Package (+$3,300) installed, comprised of side sunshades, heated seating all around, ventilated front seats, Parking Assistant Plus (autonomous manoeuvring into parallel or perpendicular spots) with Surround View, wireless charging capability and Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity.
Also equipped was the Advanced Driver Assistance Package (+$1,500) bundling digital safety functionality such as lane departure alert and keep assist, frontal collision warning, automatic emergency braking, dynamic cruise control and a few others.
Even for a purist like myself, the X3 M proved a hoot behind the wheel and discerning enthusiasts owe it to themselves to at least go out for a test drive. Still not sure? Then check out the available Competition variant featuring 30 extra horsepower, as well as additional exterior flourishes including gloss black grille and two exclusive paint colours, 21-inch polished black twin-spoke wheels and more.