Last year, we provided commentary and context to a video review that questioned the ever-growing power and seemingly increasing harshness of modern BMW M cars. Although BMW continues to grow the M brand portfolio with model sub-variants like Competition and CS, the extra coin for some of these cars doesn’t always translate to tangible improvements that can actually be enjoyed. Now, a new video review of the X3 M Competition poses similar questions. Is more than 500 horsepower truly necessary in a crossover SUV like the X3? Does it make the X3 M Competition better than alternatives like the regular X3 M or something like the X3 M40i?
In our review of the X3 M40i, we note how it’s likely all anyone really needs in a single vehicle. Although we tested a 2019 model year example, those made for 2020 and beyond use an uprated version of the B58 turbocharged inline-six, which develops 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It’s the same engine used in the Z4 M40i and G20 M340i, the latter of which boasts acceleration that’s on par with the outgoing F80 M3—which uses a 425-horsepower S55. The X3 obviously weighs more than the G20 3 Series, but there’s more to the story than power and torque.
In the Roadshow video review below, one of the biggest complaints logged against the X3 M Competition is its ride quality and on-road personality. Although it’s got more power than anyone imagined they needed in such a vehicle, the X3 M Competition also has a jarring suspension that seems to represent the compromise automakers must strike a balance with, between performance capability and every day use. On-road harshness is the same complaint cited about the F90 M5 Competition, but when you consider how capable the current M5 is, the necessity of a stiff chassis and suspension that can cope with the power comes into focus.
Where do you stand? Are BMW’s M Performance models the perfect compromise between every day usability and performance, or do you favor a real M car, no matter how it behaves over a speed bump or driveway?
At the end of the day, we’re just glad things like the X3 M and its Competition derivative exist at all.—Alex Tock
[Photo and video courtesy Roadshow.]