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2020 BMW X3 M & X4 M Arrive With Over 500 Horsepower

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The M division's first compact crossovers go hunting for AMG GLCs.

If there's one thing that we love above all else in the automotive industry, it's when carmakers slot powerful engines into small vehicles. That makes today's news very good indeed.

BMW's performance division has, at long last, revealed the new X3 M and X4 M – compact crossovers that pack a huge punch. Just how big, you ask? Try 503 horsepower on for size. That's for the Competition versions of both, which the Bavarian automaker has wasted no time in introducing alongside the "standard" models. But even those kick out an impressive 473 hp.

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Either way, you get the same 442 lb-ft of twist, produced by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo straight-six, channeled to all four wheels (with a rearward bias) through an eight-speed automatic transmission and an active rear differential.

The result is a 0-60 mph time quoted at 4.1 seconds (for either body-style), or 4.0 seconds flat for the Competition models. Top speed is limited, as per tradition, to 155 mph, but the M Driver's Package raises the limit to 174 mph, or 177 for the Competition versions. Those are pretty impressive figures, but as quoted, fall a little short of their main rival.

The Mercedes-AMG GLC63 packs a bit less power (at 469 hp) but a bit more torque (at 479 lb-ft) to deliver a quicker sprint (quoted at 3.8 seconds). And the GLC63 S (available Stateside only in X4-rivaling "coupe" form) boasts as much power as the Competition versions of the X3 M and X4 M, but even more torque (at 516 lb-ft) to reach 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and eviscerate the Nürburgring faster than any other crossover tested there so far.

Regardless of how they compare, though, BMW M GmbH has clearly put a lot into the smallest performance "Sports Activity Vehicle" and "Sports Activity Coupe" it's tackled yet.

The crankshaft is forged for lower weight and a higher redline, the iron cylinder-wall coatings are wide-arc sprayed on to reduce friction, the cylinder-head cores are 3D-printed, the wastegates are electronically controlled, the fuel is precision-injected, and the turbo spools and intercoolers have been upgraded. And that's just (part of) what the engineers have done under the hood.

The X3 M and X4 M also feature adaptive suspensions with electronically controlled dampers, electromechanically variable steering, and cross-drilled and vented brakes measuring a massive 15.6 inches at the front and 14.6 at the back, housed in standard 20-inch (or optional 21-inch) alloys.

The M models are also clearly visually differentiated both inside and out. The air intakes in the bumpers are bigger, the M-specific diffuser is flanked by a pair of 100-mm tailpipes for the variable sports exhaust, a spoiler trails the roof, and there are new colors specific to the M models, as well as an optional carbon aero kit. The performance treatment continues inside with more heavily bolstered seats, a thicker steering rim, knee pads for heavy cornering, and aluminum (or carbon-fiber) trim.

Production is set to begin in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for global distribution starting in April. Expect pricing to be announced sometime before then.