BMW X3 M Competition review
If you’re after a sports SUV, they don’t come much louder and more agile than the BMW X3 M Competition. It’s just a shame BMW has been stingy with some kit
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BMW’s engineers deserve a lie-down. Why? Because they needed to ensure the BMW X3 M Competition took your breath away in a sprint, put a smile on your face around a racetrack, didn’t embarrass you off-road and could carry everything your family and everything they need in style and comfort. That’s a busy schedule, but on this evidence, they’ve managed it.
They’re not the only tired engineers around, mind. The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S, Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrofoglio and Audi SQ5 all exist the meet the same, albeit niche, requirements. And remember, there’s also a BMW X4 M Competition if you’re happy to sacrifice some practicality for a sleeker silhouette.
Now, there’s no mistaking an X3 M Competition for just any old X3. It gets a gloss black grille, aggressive M front bumper with huge air intakes and BMW’s bold Icon LED headlights at the front. At the sides, you’ll find 21-inch M-specific alloy wheels over larger M brakes and M door mirrors finished in gloss black, while at the rear, there’s another M bumper with diffuser, M sports exhaust with gloss black tailpipes, M Competition badging and rear roof spoiler.
Inside you’re treated to figure-hugging electric, heated M Sport seats in fancy Merino leather that come with five free leather colour choices as well as one two-tone as an option. Then there’s an M Sports steering wheel with two red M driving mode buttons, a red starter button, door sill finishers in gloss black, M seatbelts and a newly designed M gear selector.
The X3 M’s interior leaves you in no doubt as to its sporting intentions, then, but it’s also very high quality throughout. Plus, BMW’s last generation (but still fantastic) iDrive infotainment system with a 10-inch screen on the dash, digital dials and head-up display with M-specific design and driving mode info is all standard. BMW still doesn’t include Apple CarPlay as standard, though, and Android Auto isn’t even available.
Space in the front and rear of the X3 M is very generous. In the back, there’s more headroom than you get in an Audi SQ5 and there’s enough leg room for a six-foot-tall passenger to sit behind an equally tall driver without complaints. The X3M has 550 litres of boot space – the same amount as an Audi SQ5 and Mercedes GLC 63 S – while its completely flat floor makes it easy to slide in heavy luggage and its wide, square opening makes loading bulky items dead easy.
Elsewhere you get the choice of an X3 M or X3 M Competition, but the UK only gets the latter. OK, it's the better car, but it'd be nice to have the choice BMW!
The X3 M is fitted with BMW’s savage twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol which develops a colossal 510hp. Via a brilliant standard eight-speed automatic gearbox and clever all-wheel-drive system, that allows an 0-62mph time of just 4.1 seconds That’s officially slightly slower than a Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S, although we managed under four seconds when we tried it ourselves, so in reality, there’s barely any gap.
The BMW is also every bit as great as the Mercedes at going around corners for such a big SUV. Thanks to that clever all-wheel-drive system, a trick rear differential that distributes power to the rear wheel with the most grip, a stiffened body and stiffer suspension, it turns into corners keenly and remains composed throughout. It’ll even break traction and get playful if you want to explore its limits further. It’s no BMW M3 in the bends, but it isn’t far off.
Which all adds up to one of the very best performance SUVs you can buy. If you’re convinced, head to our deals pages for the very best prices.