The all-new X3M Competition
By Kabelo Monethe
It was a long while back when performance SUVs were frowned upon – and now, some manufacturers have 5 performance SUVs in their line-up. BMW has recently entered another car in this performance SUV segment, and it comes in the form of the X3M – X3M Competition for the South African market. One of the most exciting parts of this SUV is the new S58 engine, rumored to also be the same engine that will go into the new BMW M3 and BMW M4.
At the front, this car looks aggressive – the front bumper looks like the car is ready to eat whatever is in front of it and it gives the car a very focused look. The bonnet is carried over from the normal BMW X3 and paired with the new bumper, the car looks as though the engineers at BMW M gave it a mission, and it is set on completing that mission. On the side, there is not much of a change from the BMW X3M40i, except you get new 21’rims that look stunning and give the car a confident stance. Looking at the car from the rear, and that confident, focused look from the front, is carried over to the rear. You get a quad exhaust system, with each outlet 100mm in size (yes, my hand can fit in them) and up top, it also has a spoiler that has been subtly integrated into the roof of the car. It is also worthy to note that, the grille, side air breather and X3M Competition badging are all dressed in high gloss black.
My opinion has always been, BMW M makes some of the best sports seats among the German manufacturers – and the seats in the X3M Competition are no disappointment! They are beautiful, but also feel functional from just sitting in them – they aren’t too firm and have nice bolstering on the side. Some of the buttons are carried over from the BMW M5 – the red M1 & M2 buttons, the buttons to adjust your engine response, suspension, and steering force. Except for the small touches that BMW M has added, the interior looks pretty much the same as that in a normal X3, which isn’t really a bad thing as the interior quality is very good. The only issue I have has to do with the infotainment system. A normal X3 can now be optioned with the brilliant iDrive 7, while the X3M comes with the old iDrive 6, with no option to upgrade it to the new iDrive system – this is disappointing, especially when you have experienced the iDrive 7.
Making its debut in the X3M, the new S58 engine is based on the B58 engine and is the successor to the awesome S55 engine found in the M2 Competition, M3 and M4. The new engine makes 375kW and 600N.m of torque, making it even more powerful than the outgoing M3 in CS form. This new engine features 2 mono-scroll turbochargers, in addition to upgraded compressors and an indirect intercooler. A new high precision injection system is also introduced and raises injection pressure from 200 to 350 bar. In order to offer a high revving engine, the engineers at BMW M had to find a way to make the engine as strong as possible, while keeping the weight as low as possible – which resulted in the use of 3D printing technology for parts such as the core of the cylinder head. This also allowed them to have a complex cooling channels that also aid in making sure the engine performs at optimum temperature. As part of the cooling system, there are 3 radiators, an engine oil cooler and a transmission cooler and all have been designed to ensure temperatures are kept under control. The quad exhaust pipes are all functional and come with electronically flaps and with vary the sound based on which driving the mode the car is in – and like on the BMW M5, there is a button in the centre console that control the exhaust flaps regardless of the driving mode, and fortunately, the car always starts with the flaps open. Power is put down through an adapted version of the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system, which is also part of how the car can do 0 to 100km/h in just 4.1 seconds. And no, there’s no 2WD – just 4WD Sport, which, if the M5 is anything to go by, is enough for some safe sideways fun!
Though it remains to be seen how the X3M will drive, BMW says they believe it will be the best selling M – and that says a lot, considering all the competition there is from other brands such as Mercedes-AMG with their GLC63. I definitely cannot wait for a head to head between the 2.