First Look – 2020 BMW X3 M and X4 M
All-New Engine Could Arrive in Future M Cars
BMW will apply its signature high-performance M treatment to the X3 and X4 for the first time for 2020, giving the company a competitor to the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63. The 2020 X3 M and X4 M will also be available in an exciting Competition trim level, which will add power and improve handling relative to the standard models.
The 2020 BMW X3 M and X4 M will be the company’s third and fourth M-branded “Sports Activity Vehicles,” following the X5 M and X6 M that have both had M variants since 2010.
Beating HeartPossibly the most significant ingredient in BMW M’s recipe is the engine, and the X3 M and X4 M do not disappoint. Both make use of the all-new S58B30 powerplant, a 3.0L twin-turbocharged I-6 that produces 473 hp and 442 lb-ft in base form, with power rising to 503 hp for the Competition. BMW claims a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds for either the X3 M or X4 M, dropping to 4.0 seconds if the Competition model is selected. Across the board, speed is limited to 155 mph unless a special package is selected, in which case the standard M goes 174 mph and the Competition hits 177 mph.
In addition to the impressive power outputs, the engine should also be quite a screamer, thanks to a lightweight forged crankshaft, closed-deck block design, and various friction-reducing measures. Taken together, these tactics give the I-6 a 7,200-rpm redline, high for a turbocharged engine. Keeping it running cool in enthusiastic driving is the job of a large central radiator and two smaller radiators flanking it, with separate engine oil and transmission fluid coolers providing added protection. Expect the new S58 engine to eventually make it into the 2020 BMW M3 and M4, as well as the 2021 M2.
Mated to the energetic powerplant is BMW’s latest eight-speed, M-optimized automatic transmission. The gearbox allows for manual gear changes via the gear lever or steering wheel–mounted shift paddles. Given how quick-witted BMW’s other eight-speeds are, we’re sure the M Steptronic in the X3 M and X4 M will be an enthusiastic partner.
Taut MusclesPredictably, both new crossovers will come standard with M xDrive all-wheel drive. The system uses elements similar to the normal X3 and X4’s all-wheel drive, but it has been retuned to deliver more rear-wheel bias for sportier driving—according to BMW, the system only sends power to the front wheels when the rears reach their traction limits. Helping those rear wheels maintain traction in corners and on hard launches is BMW’s Active M Differential, which locks the axle at any rate between 0 and 100 percent.
Furthermore, the system incorporates M Dynamic Mode, which allows the driver to select the M xDrive 4WD Sport setting. This provides even more aggressive rear-wheel bias, which should make controlled drifts easier and classic rear-drive dynamics more apparent. The M xDrive system works in tandem with Dynamic Stability Control (which can be fully deactivated for on-track driving).
An Adaptive M Suspension comes standard on the X3 M and X4 M, which gets electronically controlled dampers that can be tuned on the fly thanks to electromagnetic valves within the shock absorbers. Three suspension modes are available: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. The electromechanical, variable-ratio steering can also be retuned using the same modes.
Custom-made front suspension components include swivel bearings, torque arms, and wishbones to provide a more responsive cornering experience. The rear suspension’s model-specific five-link design uses stiffer bushings and camber arm for greater agility and precision. And the X3 M and X4 M receive greater roll resistance thanks to new antiroll bars (which get upsized on Competition models).
Sprinter’s BodyBuilding from the crisp, handsome styling of the X3 and X4, which were redesigned for 2018, the M treatment adds a unique front fascia with bold air intakes and an aerodynamic front bumper, and the BMW-signature kidney grille gets unique double-bar verticals. The front fenders also get M-specific vents, and the sideview mirrors have been redesigned for better aerodynamics. Around the back, there’s an M-specific rear diffuser and quad exhaust pipes, and the X3’s liftgate and X4’s fastback are both capped with an M roof spoiler.
Both X3 M and X4 M get body-color design features for the front and rear bumpers, wheel arches, and side skirts. Opting for the Competition model brings gloss black accents for the kidney grilles, mirror caps, and fender vents, as well as the X4’s roof spoiler.
Internal MedicineThe X3 M and X4 M also boast performance-oriented interiors, with Vernasca leather sport seats and an M-designed leather steering wheel, instrument cluster, and gear selector. Competition models up the ante a bit more with even more aggressive M Sport seats, Merino leather upholstery, and available two-tone accents (pictured on the X3 M is Sakhir Orange, while the X4 M sports Adelaide Grey). Extended Merino leather with Alcantara trim is also available on the Competition.
Both X3 and X4 retain their 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats and a respectable amount of utility in their M transition. Obviously, the conventionally shaped X3 M is going to be more practical than the fastback X4 M, so if it’s a family car you’re after, three is your lucky number.
HomegrownBMW of North America is rightly proud of the X3 M and X4 M, as they will all be produced at the company’s Plant Spartanburg assembly facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The plant employs 11,000 people and contracts with 300 U.S. suppliers, and roughly 70 percent of all vehicles produced in Spartanburg are exported to other markets.
The X3 M and X4 M will head into production in April, with deliveries beginning shortly thereafter. The BMW X3 M will start at $70,895 with destination, while the Competition will demand $77,895. That puts it exactly in line with the aforementioned GLC 63, which starts at the same price. The X4 M will be a bit more expensive ($73,400, or $80,400 for the Competition), doing battle with the $78,450 Porsche Macan Turbo and the $81,745 GLC 63 S Coupe. That’s not an insubstantial amount of money, but combining thrilling performance with a spacious, luxurious interior is almost always an expensive proposition.