The performance compact SUV market is clearly heating up, with plenty of players including the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63, Porsche Macan Turbo and Jaguar F-Pace SVR already slugging it out in the segment. Munich is next to throw its hat in the ring with the new F97 BMW X3 M and F98 X4 M, which not only mark a first for the propeller brand but also serve as a preview for the highly-anticipated G80 M3 and G82 M4.

That’s because the two crossovers will almost certainly share the same engine as the barnstorming sedan and coupé – a new S58 3.0 litre twin-turbocharged straight-six. It may share the same configuration as the current M3 and M4‘s S55 unit, but it is a completely different beast with a new 3D-printed cylinder head core, which allows for geometric forms beyond the capabilities of conventional casting techniques.

As such, the new component is lighter and has coolant ducts optimised for temperature management; the pressure for the fuel injection system has also been increased from 200 bar to 350 bar for greater efficiency. As before, it gets a closed-deck design, a forged crankshaft, wire-arc sprayed iron cylinder wall coatings, Valvetronic variable valve timing, Double VANOS variable camshaft timing and an indirect intercooler.

Cooling comes courtesy of three radiators, an additional engine oil cooler and a separate transmission oil cooler, while the oil sump has two separate chambers and an integrated suction channel. The latter, together with an additional suction stage for the oil pump, ensures a reliable oil supply even during extreme track driving. There’s also a dual-branch active exhaust system with twin particulate filters.

All this results in 480 hp at 6,250 rpm and 600 Nm of torque from 2,600 to 5,600 rpm – an increase of 55 hp and 50 Nm over the the S55. Equipped with an eight-speed M Steptronic torque converter automatic gearbox (no more dual clutch) with Drivelogic, the two cars go from zero to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds.

But wait, there’s more – there’s also a Competition variant for both models that produces a heady 510 hp and raises the upper rev limit of maximum torque to 5,950 rpm. It shaves a tenth of a second from the 100 km/h sprint (4.1 seconds), and with the optional M Driver’s Package selected it will reach a top speed of 285 km/h – five km/h up on the standard X3 M and X4 M.

To keep all four wheels to the ground at that speed, the X3 M and X4 M employ the M5‘s M xDrive all-wheel drive system, albeit without a rear-wheel drive-only mode. As on the larger sedan, it gets a 4WD Sport mode with a greater rearward bias, selectable by choosing the more lenient M Dynamic Mode for the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). A rear Active M Differential is also fitted.

Under the skin, the two cars get revised kinematic and elastokinematic qualities for more precise wheel location and directional stability, with custom-made swivel bearings, torque arms and wishbones at the front. You also get special elastomer bearings and increased front camber, while the rear receives a stiffer camber arm, M-specific rubber mounts and stiffer anti-roll bars.

Adaptive dampers with bespoke tuning come as standard, as does a speed-sensitive and variable-ratio M Servotronic electric power steering that features a motor unit fitted parallel to the axle for greater precision. Stopping power comes from M compound brakes with 395 mm discs at the front and 370 mm units at the back, clamped by four-piston front callipers and single piston rear callipers.

Matching the increased performance is a more aggressive exterior design that includes a deeper air dam with larger intakes to feed the extra radiators and coolers, along with M’s trademark dual-bar grille. You can also spot the gills aft of the front wheels, aerodynamic wing mirrors, a rear spoiler and a diffuser integrating the quad exhaust tips. Tying it all together are body-coloured mouldings instead of the usual black.

The Competition models are set apart by the black grille, mirror caps, gills and, on the X4 M, the tailgate spoiler as well. An optional M Carbon exterior package, as the name suggests, adds carbon fibre front intake surrounds, front air blades, rear diffuser and mirror caps. That will be offered beginning in August, coinciding with the availability of an M3/M4-style front strut brace to replace the standard piece.

As for the wheels, the X3 M and X4 M will come as standard with 20-inch V-spoke machined Orbit Grey alloys wrapped in staggered non-runflat tyres, while the Competition versions receive 21-inch machined Jet Black rollers. Seven colours are available, including the new Toronto Red and Donington Grey, both of which are exclusive to the M models.

Inside, there’s an M sports steering wheel with twin red M Drive buttons for bringing up their desired vehicle setups, behind which sit an M-specific instrument display and an optional head-up display. Heated sport seats with Vernasca leather upholstery come as standard, and buyers can also specify M Sport seats with larger bolsters and Merino leather trim.





GALLERY: F97 BMW X3 M
GALLERY: F98 BMW X4 M
GALLERY: F97 BMW X3 M Competition
GALLERY: F98 BMW X4 M Competition
GALLERY: F98 BMW X4 M Competition with M Carbon exterior package

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