Open up and say Mmmm: The BMW X3 M and X4 M break cover

Up to 510hp from BMW’s most potent six-cylinder ever; Singapore launch targeted for second half of 2019


You just knew it was coming, didn’t you? Just like how its arch-rival Mercedes is slapping an AMG badge onto anything that has enough space on the bootlid, so too is BMW M-ifying seemingly its entire range, be it with its cooking M Performance sub-line or its full-fat M cars. And the latest models to get a complete M-akeover are the mid-sized SUV siblings, the X3 and X4.

Considering that more than a third of all BMWs sold today have an ‘X’ prefixed to their model number, it’s actually a bit surprising that it’s taken this long for the X3 to get a performance variant. That was rectified of course, with the X3 M40i last year, but that was merely an appetizer for the main course that is the first-ever X3 M. For an alternative flavour, its coupe-on-stilts sibling the X4 M is also available.

The big highlight for the pair is the engine. Codenamed S58, it’s a more potent development of the B58 3.0-litre single-turbo straight-six already found in the brand’s other 40i models, including the upcoming M340i, Z4 M40i, as well as the new Toyota Supra.

The addition of an extra turbo, amongst other modifications, hikes peak power and torque up to 480hp and 600Nm, with the redline pegged at a fairly high (for a turbo motor) 7,200rpm. For a bit of extra spice, Competition versions of both bump the power rating up to 510hp, bang-on par with *deep breath* the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

Hooked up to an 8-speed auto transmission and the same rear-biased all-wheel drive system as the mighty M5 (albeit without the option of a tyre-slaying 2WD mode), the X3 and X4 M will do the century sprint in just 4.2 seconds; the Competition variants shave a further tenth off that time.

Naturally, changes have also been made to the chassis to keep the X3 and X4 M shiny side-up through the corners. Extra bracing between the strut towers, under the engine and around the rear axle stiffen up the body, while the adaptive dampers and variable-ratio steering feature M-specific settings. The X3 and X4 M get 20-inch shoes as standard, while Competition cars wear 21-inchers.

As is usually the case with BMW M, the styling isn’t a world apart from the M Sport bodykit that’s optional with the base X3 and X4, but the changes are noticeable if you look. They include enlarged air intakes, more aggressive bumpers, quad exhaust pipes, and larger spoilers. If you feel your wallet’s a bit too heavy, an optional carbonfibre trim package will be available too.

Though potent, the X3 and X4 M are predictable extensions to both model lines, and break no new grounds in terms of performance – not that buyers will mind. What’s more significant is the debut of the new S58 engine, which will also serve duty in the next M3 and M4 – a welcome upgrade as the current car’s lagged behind the Mercedes-AMG C 63 and Audi RS 4 in the horsepower race since its inception. If a full-fledged Z4 M is in the works, it’ll very likely use this engine too, and possibly even – whisper it – a Gazoo Racing variant of the Supra.

The X3 and X4 M are on course for a Singapore launch in the latter half of 2019, although no pricing details are available as yet.

about the author

Jon Lim
CarBuyer's latest addition is its fourth historical Jonathan. Old-fashioned in all but body, he thinks car design peaked in the '90s. He also strongly believes any car can be a race car if you have a sufficient lack of self-preservation, which explains why he nearly flipped a Chinese van while racing it.