2020 BMW X3 M Preview

Christian Wardlaw | Feb 13, 2019
  • Twin-turbocharged performance version of the BMW X3
  • Makes up to 503 horsepower, scoots to 60 mph in a claimed 4 seconds
  • Full M-engineered performance massage
  • Plenty of standard equipment
  • On sale before summer 2019
  • Built in Spartanburg, South Carolina


For the first time, BMW is offering a high-performance M-engineered version of the X3 compact SUV. The 2020 BMW X3 M starts rolling off the company’s Spartanburg, South Carolina assembly line in April 2019, going on sale just in time for summer. Prices will be announced closer to the X3 M’s arrival in showrooms.

Exterior Features

You’ll be able to tell the new BMW X3 M apart by its larger front air intakes, revised front and rear bumper designs, blacked-out grille, front fender M gills, M-design side mirrors, rear roof spoiler, and big dual exhaust outlets flanking a unique rear diffuser panel.

2020 BMW X3 M Competition photo
2020 BMW X3 M Competition

Adaptive full LED headlights, as well as front and rear park-assist sensors, are standard, and the X3 M will come in seven exterior paint colors, including a new shade of Toronto Red and an exclusive Donington Gray hue.

Exclusive M-design, light-alloy 20-in. wheels in Orbit Gray are standard, wrapped with 255/45 front and 265/45 rear high-performance run-flat tires. Upgrade to the X3 M Competition version for polished Jet Black 21-in. wheels with 255/40 front and 265/40 rear tires.

Competition trim also includes high-gloss black side mirror and M gill trim, and black chrome exhaust outlets. An optional M Carbon Exterior package adds carbon fiber-reinforced plastic trim in various spots.

Interior Features

Standard front sport seats are upholstered in premium leather and are heated. Buyers can choose between Black and Oyster colors, and aluminum carbon structure trim decorates the cabin. Competition trim adds M Sport seats with super-premium leather in Black, or 2-tone Black with Sakhir Orange or Black with Adelaide Gray. These seats and colors are optional on the standard X3 M model.

All X3 Ms include kneepads to help soften blows as you whip this performance-tuned SUV around corners, along with M-specific instrumentation, steering wheel, and gear selector treatments. A standard 40/20/40 split rear seat maximizes utility, and the X3 M can carry 28.7 cu. ft. of cargo with the rear seat in use. Fold it down for 62.7 cu. ft. of cargo space.

Optional Features

Buyers can upgrade the X3 M’s interior with BMW Individual extended super-premium leather in Ivory White or Tartufo, as well as with carbon fiber trim. Competition trim is exclusively available with Midrand Beige over Black extended leather, and with Alcantara applied to various parts of the interior.

An Executive package is also available and includes a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, Parking Assistant Plus technology, head-up display, and infotainment system upgrades including wireless device charging, Wi-Fi, and gesture control.

Under the Hood

The BMW X3 M’s reason for being is found under the SUV’s sheet metal.

A twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine develops 473 horsepower from 6,250 rpm to 7,200 rpm, and 442 lb.-ft. of torque between 2,600 rpm and 5,600 rpm. Highlights of this engine include a motorsport-inspired oil supply system, a 3D-printed cylinder head core, forged crankshaft, and a track-validated cooling system.

Acceleration to 60 mph takes 4.1 seconds, according to BMW, and top speed is limited to 155 mph. An optional M Driver’s package bumps this 4,620-lb. SUV’s maximum velocity to 174 mph.

Choose the X3 M Competition and the engine is massaged to make 503 hp. This shaves a tenth of a second off the 0-60 mph acceleration time and bumps top speed to 177 mph with the M Driver’s package.

Both versions of the X3 M are equipped with an 8-speed M Steptronic automatic transmission with three Drivelogic modes, manual shift function, and paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Power is routed through an M xDrive all-wheel-drive system that only sends power to the front wheels when the rear wheels lose traction. Additionally, an Active M Differential varies rear lockup from nothing to 100%, depending on the driving situation. The X3 M supplies 8 ins. of ground clearance.

Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ driving modes impact suspension damping, steering, powertrain response, and the dynamic stability control (DSC) system. Each of these components can be configured independently, and owners can save two different programmed profiles for quick access depending on the planned type of driving.

The DSC system also includes an M Dynamic Mode that allows greater wheel slip, and offers a 4WD Sport option for when X3 M drivers wish to execute, say, controlled drifts. Also, when you take your SUV to the track, a DSC Off mode shuts down the stability control system to really put your insurance coverage at risk.

BMW also upgrades the X3 M’s suspension with model-specific components for reduced body roll and motions as well as more precise handling characteristics. Adaptive M dampers are standard, and drivers can choose between Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ settings.

Increased structural rigidity and strengthened suspension mounting points also help to improve the SUV’s handling, BMW says. For example, every X3 M has a shock tower brace, and starting in August 2019 buyers will be able to specify one made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP).

A performance exhaust system is standard, with electronically controlled exhaust flap settings adjusted by the driver. Competition trim adds continuously variable exhaust flaps. Both X3 M models include M-specific, speed-sensing variable-ratio steering, and M compound brakes with 4-piston front and single-piston floating rear calipers. The calipers are painted blue and include the M logo.


Standard safety technology on the new X3 M includes forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, and low-speed automatic emergency braking. An active cruise control system with stop-and-go capability is optional, along with a Driving Assistant package (blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, lane-change warning, rear-collision prevention).

A Driving Assistant Plus package is also available, and it includes steering assistant, lane-control assistant, lane-keeping assistant with active side-collision protection, evasion aid, crossroads warning, wrong-way warning, and front cross-traffic alert.


Every 2020 BMW X3 M includes a standard Harman Kardon surround-sound system, along with free satellite radio for one year and a navigation system. Upgrades include Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi, gesture control, and wireless smartphone charging.

A head-up display is also available, along with Parking Assistant Plus, which helps drivers to squeeze the SUV into parking spaces.

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