BMW is putting the emphasis on “sport” with two new sport-utility vehicles, the 2020 X3 M and X4 M.
The compact models get the BMW M treatment for the first time, and it starts out with a twin-turbo inline-six that, in Competition trim, will push as much as 503 horsepower to the pavement – enough to launch from 0 to 60 in just 4.1 seconds.
Both of the new models will be assembled at the Bavarian automaker’s South Carolina assembly plant, BMW notes, something that should minimize the impact should Pres. Donald Trump authorize new tariffs on European auto imports, as he has been threatening. That said, don’t expect them to come cheap.
The automaker is actually late to the party when it comes to giving the high-performance treatment to its compact utility models. We’ve already gotten some intriguing options from Alfa Romeo, in the form of its Stelvio Quadrifoglio, as well as Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
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As you’d expect, the new X3 M and X4 M utes get some enticing exterior updates meant to not only signal you’re driving something special, but also to enhance aerodynamics, engine breathing and cooling. These start with a signature double-kidney grille with black bars, larger air intakes and a unique M bumper. M gills flow into air breathers that reduce turbulence around the front wheels. There’s an M-specific rear spoiler, a special rear bumper and a rear diffuser flanked by twin exhaust pipes on either side.
Those quad exhaust pipes contain electrically controlled flaps that serve a dual function, reducing backpressure while also producing what BMW calls a “stirring soundtrack” when they open up. The driver can keep them open by selecting Sport or Sport+ modes.
It’s what’s under the hood, however, that really matters. And the 2020 X3 M and X4 M share a modified version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo I-6 first used to power the current-generation X5 M. The twin monoscroll turbos help the engine rev up to a full 7,200 RPMs. In standard trim, the engines can make a solid 473 hp and 442 pound-feet of torque. The optional Competition models pump the pony count up to 503. The “base” models top out at 174 mph while the Competition adds another 3 mph.
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Also borrowed from the M5, an eight-speed automatic, rather than the dual-clutch transmission from the M3 sedan and M4 coupe. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system is standard on both M models. The system normally biases torque towards the rear wheels, and a driver-selectable Sport Mode shifts even more power towards the back.
In fact, “M Dynamic Mode – which can be activated as an alternative to the standard DSC setting – gives the driver access to the M xDrive 4WD Sport option. This sends even more power to the rear wheels, enabling controlled drifts,” BMW notes.
A front tower brace is one of the steps BMW says it’s taken to stiffen an already rigid chassis for the two new M models. Adaptive damper are standard issue, and a number of other key suspension components have been beefed up. The Competition package also brings thicker sway bars.
Standard 20-inch wheels – 21 on the Competition package – barely conceal beefed up new brakes.
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If you’re looking for one of the two new M models, you’ll have to wait until the weather clears up across the country, U.S. dealers expecting to start delivering the 2020 BMW X3 M and X4 M utes in April. The automaker hasn’t yet revealed pricing but expect a fairly stiff premium. The base X3 starts at $41,000, the X4 at $50,450.