Auto Review: 2020 BMW X3 M Competition

TAKE one BMW M3 and one BMW X3, mix them all about in a big bowl and shove it in the oven. What comes out of that baking process is the 2020 BMW X3 M Competition, a car that will change the face of M vehicles forever.

Don’t scoff at that statement. Think about it. SUVs are insanely popular, the M3 is an astoundingly good performance car, and the two concepts work exceptionally well together. This could be the best balanced SUV on the market.

It handles like a road car, that just happens to have the body of an SUV. Throw in a 4WD Sport setting that makes it an almost rear-wheel drive angry beast with a bucket of grip, and the whole package adds up to a proper performance SUV.

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Lots of M bits contribute to that, including an M Carbon precision strut for added rigidity, M specific suspension with three drive modes (Comfort, Sport and Sport+), xDrive and an active M differential.

If we can fault anything in the driving experience, which is mostly amazing, the suspension can be a little rough at times, especially in Sport+ mode. Rough roads feel a little well, rougher, as a result.

It’s a very performance oriented vehicle, and while that’s a huge part of its appeal, it’s also a downside. We promise you though, it makes you grin every time you push the accelerator. It’s literally that much fun to drive.

You see, the X3 M Competition is powered by a high-revving 3.0-litre TwinPower turbo straight-six engine. Loaded with performance enhancing goodies like indirect inter-cooling and improved air induction, it’s punching out a super impressive 375kW of power.

There’s also 600Nm of torque, and the wickedly quick BMW can sprint from zero to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds. On the fuel economy front, you can manage around 10.5-litres/100km, if you drive sensibly.

That’s a big if in an SUV (or SAV as BMW refers to them) that’s essentially a high performance road car.

Piano black is the order of the day on the outside, with a black kidney grille, black X3 M Competition badging, black gills and black mirrors, all of them hints to passers-by that this is no ordinary SUV. There’s also a model specific rear spoiler.

Very nice 21-inch wheels are wrapped in staggered low profile tyres to keep you on the road, with slotted brake rotors helping pull the excited SUV up. The package is completed with a panoramic sunroof, and LED headlights with auto high-beam and active cornering.

More goodness can be found inside the 2020 BMW X3 M Competition, including sports seats with illuminated M logos in the headrests, touches of carbon fibre and an M-specific steering wheel, instrument cluster and gear lever.

There’s even a red start button and programmable M buttons on the steering wheel. You’ll also find Driving and Parking Assistant Plus (more on those shortly), BMW Connected, a head-up display, and navigation system professional.

It’s a tech heavy package that also includes wireless phone charging, and a 10.25-inch touchscreen. The infotainment system can be accessed by touching the screen, using the dial wheel in the centre console, or the buttons around it.

Easy to use and operate, it provides access to such things as Bluetooth, satellite navigation and DAB+ digital radio, as well as messages from your car and your phone.

Four different upholstery choices can be had, including leather and Alcantara in Bicolour Black and Midrand Beige (which our test vehicle came with), full leather in Sarkhir Orange and Black, Adelaide Grey and Black, or all Black.

The seating looks fantastic, but is heavily sports focused, and may be a little uncomfortable for some people. It’s a minor thing. Head and leg room is great and the cabin is spacious.

Storage is pretty impressive for the SUV, with 550-litres of boot space. Drop the rear seats (which are 40:20:40 split fold), and you can stretch that to 1600-litres. There’s a 12-volt outlet in the boot too.

Ambient lighting and multi-zone climate control make everything that little bit cooler, and there’s a 360-degree camera view, parking sensors, and a pretty damn good 16-speaker sound system.

On the safety front, Driving Assistant adds adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, steering and lane control assist (that supports hands off steering control for a short time), road sign recognition, and front and rear cross traffic alert.

Priced at around $170,000 drive away, the 2020 BMW X3 M Competition takes on the likes of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and Jaguar F-PACE SVR, both of which are cheaper, and the more expensive Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S.

It’s a tough space to play in, especially when you throw in a few additional random options like the SVR’s sibling, the Range Rover Velar SV-Autobiography (Dynamic), but the BMW more than holds its own.

It comes with BMW’s 3-year unlimited kilometre warranty and is available in Toronto Red, Black Sapphire, Sophisto Grey, Phytonic Blue, Donnington Grey (as tested), Alpine White and Sunstone (the last of these is a BMW Individual colour).

There are a range of trim choices too, including two fine-wood options, carbon fibre, aluminium carbon, and piano black. Optional extras include wireless Apple CarPlay, gesture control, concierge service, a heated steering wheel and TV functionality.

Our test vehicle was provided by BMW Australia. To find out more about the 2020 BMW X3 M Competition, contact your local BMW dealer.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness
Value for money


Pros - insanely good handling; its beating M3 heart; BMW's infotainment package.
Cons - harsh ride on rougher roads; a little expensive; Android Auto still MIA.
Mark Holgate
Mark Holgate
A journalist with more than 24 years experience, Mark Holgate has worked with a number of regional, suburban and metropolitan newspapers, as well as stints with motoring specific publications like Which Car? Motorsport News, Auto Action and Street Machine. He is also a contributor to DriveTribe.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> insanely good handling; its beating M3 heart; BMW's infotainment package.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> harsh ride on rougher roads; a little expensive; Android Auto still MIA.Auto Review: 2020 BMW X3 M Competition