BMW unveils new X3M and X4M
BMW’s M performance car division has added two new four-wheel drive SUV models to its burgeoning line-up in the form of the rapid X3M and X4M.
Set for Australian delivery in August following a planned public debut at the Shanghai motor show in April, they are among seven new fully assigned M models planned to be unveiled in 2019, with the M8 Coupe, M8 Cabriolet, M8 GranCoupe as well as the third-generation X5M and X6M all set to follow by year’s end.
Also earmarked for introduction this year are lesser M Performance variants of the new X7 as well as the upcoming third-generation X6 and sixth-generation 3-series Touring.
“The decision to produce the X3M and X4M was logical. We know how to do a fast and sporting SUV. Our philosophy from the start was to deliver an M3 and M4 driving experience, but with the added assurance of four-wheel drive and a slightly higher seating position,” says Lars Beulke, BMW M product manager, adding, “We originally referred to them internally as the M3X and M4X.”
Following the strategy taken with other recent new M models, the X3M and X4M will be sold in both standard and Competition guises from the outset of sales. Together, they take aim at the Mercedes-Benz GLC63 4Matic+ and Porsche Macan Turbo with a newly developed twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine that goes under the internal codename S58.
Based on the B58 engine already used by the X3 M40i and X4 M40i, the in-line six-cylinder unit delivers 353kW and 600Nm of torque in standard X3 M and X4M models and 375kW and 600Nm in the X3M Competition and X4M Competition – the latter of which receive a standard M-sport exhaust for more distinctive aural qualities.
This provides the top-of-the-line X3M and X4M with the same power output as the GLC63S 4Matic+ and 29kW more than the Macan Turbo with an optional Performance Package.
Power is channelled to all four wheels via a standard eight-speed torque converter equipped ZF-produced automatic gearbox featuring BMW M division’s M Steptronic and Drivelogic software package as well as a variable M xDrive four-wheel drive system with an electronically controlled rear differential that provides a torque vectoring function capable of varying the amount of drive sent to each individual rear wheel.
Unlike the similar arrangement used by the M5, though, the variable M xDrive four-wheel drive system used by the X3M and X4M models does not support a pure rear-wheel drive mode.
Instead, BMW M says it has been tuned to deliver maximum on-road grip and traction, with the standard X3M and X4M receiving 20-inch wheels shod with 255/45 (front) and 265/45 (rear) profile tires and X3M Competition and X4M Competition allied with 21-inch rims with 255/40 (front) and 265/40 (rear) tires.
The regular X3 and X4’s MacPherson strut (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension, which boasts adaptive damping control, has been heavily reworked in the creation of BMW M’s latest models, as has the variable ratio steering system, which is described as being similar in set-up to that used by the M5, and the brakes, which use 395mm steel discs and four-pot calipers up front and 370mm steel discs with floating calipers at the rear.
Beulke says a significant amount of engineering was focused on stiffening the front end structure of the standard X3 and X4 to provide the new M models with the sort of agility and steering precision BMW M customers demand. To this end, the X3M and X4M receive a sturdy steel strut brace across the front suspension towers as well as additional bracing below the engine.
On Competition models, the steel strut brace can be replaced by a carbon fibre element as optional equipment.
The most rapid of BMW M division’s new mid-size SUV performance models, the 1970kg X4M Competition, is claimed to accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 4.1sec and reach an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h. An optional M Driver’s package allows buyers to raise top speed to a limited 285km/h.
This indicates it is faster from 0-100km/h than the standard 331kW six-speed manual gearbox equipped M4 Competition, which weighs 455kg less than the X4M Competition and uses BMW’s M’s older S55 engine.
By comparison, the GLC63S 4Matic+ Coupe, which boasts 100Nm more of torque than the X4M Competition, has an official 0-100km/h time of 3.8sec and 280km/h top speed in combination with an optional AMG driver’s package.
Although they have not been conceived for off-road driving, Beulke says the X3M and X4M perform remarkable well away from the bitumen.
“They do amazingly well off-road," he claimed.
"The electronic differential at the rear provides a locking effect that gives them loads of traction on loose surfaces and gravel roads. ”
The new S58 engine comes with a series of efficiency functions, including brake energy recuperation. The most economical of the new M models, the 1970kg X3M, is rated at 10.5L/100km on the European test cycle, giving it a CO2 figure of 239g/km.
In keeping with their added performance potential, the X3M and X4M receive a number of traditional BMW M styling changes to differentiate them from standard X3 and X4 models. Included is a heavily structured front bumper with larger cooling ducts and a honeycomb insert, an M-specific grille, reworked breather elements behind the front wheel arches, more prominent sills underneath the doors, M-sport wing mirrors, a larger spoiler element atop the tailgate and a new rear bumper bookmarked by four round tailpipes.
For added effect, the X3M Competition and X4M Competition come with an optional M carbon package with blackened details.
Inside, there is the latest M-Sport multi-function steering wheel, instruments, gear lever and seats, along with M-specific trims and upholstery.
The X3M and X4M will be produced at BMW’s Spartanburg factory in South Carolina, USA alongside standard versions of the X3 and X4.
By the end of 2019, The BMW M division line-up is planned to include up to 37 models, some 15 of which are SUVs.