Home / Home / BMW X3 M Road Test Review – M3 X


BMW are known to create some great driver’s cars and their SUVs are no different. The new BMW X3 M, though, is the first here to get the all-new 3.0-litre engine which also goes into the new M3.


Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Apurva Ambep

How many 3.0-litre petrol engines does a car company need today? If you answered ‘one’, you’d be correct, logically. However, when you’re BMW, that’s not the answer. After all, when a 3.0 straight-six is your signature motor, you’d need a little variety, too, right? But more on that later.


The BMW X3 M is the first proper M version of the smaller SUV or, rather, mid-size SAV — “Sports Activity Vehicle” in München speak. There have been M Sport trims and even M Performance versions of the previous one, but this one, the F97, gets a proper M job. What that means is more power, more torque, more sound, sharper responses and handing dynamics, and just a lot more excitement overall. And it starts right from the first glance.


The shadow dark metal paint finish — pardon me, it’s called Donington Grey — looks exciting especially when paired with the black kidney grille with double slats and integrated M gills show it means business. Like flared nostrils, they open when the car needs more intake to feed the radiator and intercoolers. The muscular proportions are accentuated by the long-ish wheelbase, shorter overhangs, and the shapely surfaces that bear the essential M badging. Even the wing-mirror design looks sharp and very M3, while further improving the car’s aerodynamic value. The sporty look is completed by the addition of 20-inch M light-alloy wheels with mixed rubber: 255/45s at the front and slightly larger 265/45s at the rear. Further up, the roof tapers off into what appear to be integrated winglets; seemingly to enhance aero effect further. The smaller “X3 M” badging on the grille slat and the intake louvres on either side and larger model badging on the rear make it evident that this is indeed the very first and proper BMW X3 M.


Getting in requires a tap of the button on the key fob; no key-less business here. The interior of the BMW X3 M aims to balance sport and luxury with versatility and robustness and they’ve managed to do that very well. The M cockpit design is unmistakable and very exciting to behold. It combines the driver info-console behind the M leather-wrapped steering wheel with a smart centre 10.25-inch touchscreen display. It gets their Navigation System Professional and 3D maps with a configurable user interface. The M sports steering wheel — complete with M1 and M2 buttons — makes it feel like a proper M car. Glance down at the centre console and there are individual mode buttons for the engine, suspension, and steering feel. There’s the M Dynamic Mode and the gear lever gets the three-level shift calibration. One shifts “normally”, one hold revs reasonably high, and the third lets you red-line.


The cabin is reasonably spacious but the dark, sporty theme makes it feel a little more snug than it actually is. Another reason is that, while I admire the soft beige headliner, there isn’t a sunroof. Yes, a panoramic sunroof is optional but this particular example didn’t come equipped with it. What it does get, in addition, are electrically adjustable sports seats with memory, black leather upholstery, and ambient lighting. The rear seats too have a 40:20:40 split-folding back-rest, taking the boot volume up from 550 litres to a maximum of 1,600 litres. Ideally, four people is enough and the pandemic made sure I didn’t need to bear with more than two passengers inside. Less weight. Better performance and better fuel economy!


More on page 2 >


About the author: Jim Gorde


Deputy Editor at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops, and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible immediate future until hydrogen FCEVs take over.

t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia/@jimbosez


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