The X3 M occupies a market niche that makes no rational sense. It aims to provide the added ground clearance and high-riding stance that car buyers in the USA demand nowadays, but with kidney-crushing performance induced by a 473-horsepower turbocharged six-cylinder engine that makes 457 lb-ft of torque. And if, for some reason, that's still not enough for you, adding the Competition Package will supplement those specs with 30 hp and even more torque. It's not exactly clear why buyers of compact SUV crossovers would want or need this level of performance, but apparently, there are enough to populate a whole class of rivals, including the Porsche Macan Turbo and the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63.
The X3 M shares its basic twin-turbocharged inline six, xDrive AWD hardware, and ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with the Competition xDrive derivatives of the M3 and M4. It rides on the same CLAR platform shared with many modern BMWs but courtesy of a practical, boxy body, it provides more space, cargo capacity, and practicality than coupe-styled members of this class, such as its X4 stablemate. There is a case to be made for splurging on hustlers like the X3 M, though.
The new 2023 BMW X3 M crossover SUV stays virtually unchanged compared to the 2022 model. Last year saw various changes to the X3 M that included engine revisions, a facelift, and improved infotainment, but this year's changes are mostly confined to the non-M models in the range.
The price of the BMW X3 M starts at $74,400; this is MSRP and excludes a $995 destination charge in the US. The Competition package is a $7,000 option but one that we expect many customers to pick. By choosing all the available options, the X3 M's price tag will near $90k with surprising ease.
See trim levels and configurations:
3.0L Twin-Turbo Inline-6 Gas
The X3 M is a revelation around a track, with pin-sharp handling, prodigious grip, and staggering pace for an SUV. The turbocharged inline-six is allied with xDrive all-wheel-drive grip to slingshot it out of corners with impressive grip and composure. The engine is supremely smooth and powerful, and the standard outputs of 473 hp and 457 lb-ft can be upped to 503 hp and 479 lb-ft with the Competition package added. This drops the 0-60 sprint from 3.9 seconds to just 3.7 seconds. Either way, acceleration is thrilling. The xDrive system in the X3 M can send up to 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Unfortunately, this single-minded pursuit of sportiness has compromised it in areas that a premium SUV should excel in, and while almost every review of the BMW X3 M mentions the superb handling, they also note the punishing ride quality. Despite the dampers being adjustable, there's no getting away from the hard springs, and the ride remains tough on the kidneys even in their softest setting. It's surprising that BMW didn't give this practical SUV a more livable setting to make daily driving more bearable.
For blasting around corners on smooth surfaces, the 2023 X3 M is a sublime SUV and among the best tall-riding cars in the world for this particular job. Unfortunately, an SUV needs to be good at more mundane things, too, and while the interior is spacious and comfortable, the uncompromising ride quality will be a deal-breaker for some. It's a great M4 on stilts, but it's not a well-rounded SUV in the way some other sporty SUVs are. It's a shame that Alpina doesn't offer a soft-riding XB3 to give us the best of both worlds, because the interior is certainly commendable spacious and comfortable, with just under 29 cubic feet of seats-up cargo space. One of the toughest BMW X3 M competitors is the in-house X3 M40i; it is almost $13,000 cheaper, more than quick enough, and a little more forgiving on the spinal column. A Porsche Macan and Mercedes-AMG GLC do a better job still of isolating you from rough surfaces. For hardcore Bimmer fans, though, the X3 M makes a fine addition to the collection.
Do you really want the over-the-top performance that the Competition Package provides? If so, then go for it and enjoy the hell out of it. However, we don't feel the Competition Package is necessary for a daily driver that you can still enjoy taking out for a spin. We would definitely drop the extra $3,650 on the Executive Package for the head-up display, heated rear seats and steering wheel, and the gesture control that is starting to become reliable to use. If we knew for a fact that we would be putting serious city and freeway miles on the X3 M, we would also spring for the $1,700 Driving Assistance Professional Package. We find the M Driver's package a bit of a shoulder shrug as a 177 mph top speed isn't something many people are going to test. However, the high-performance driving class from BMW could be worth the cost for those that want to get everything they can out of the X3 M.
The most popular competitors of 2023 BMW X3 M: