BMW’s M division is preparing to broaden the range of the models that receive its go-fast goodies. Earlier reports claim the segment-bending X4 will spawn a full-blown M-tuned model in the not-too-distant future, and sources close to BMW have revealed that the first-ever X3 M has finally been given the green light for production.
The X3 M will be based on the next generation of BMW’s compact SUV, meaning it will be built on the same modular platform (called CLAR in BMW-speak) as the next 3, 5, and 6 series, as well as the replacements for the current X5 and X6. Power will be provided by a turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six engine tuned to generate at least 500 horsepower. A dual-clutch automatic transmission controlled by shift paddles will come standard, and all-wheel drive will be the only configuration available.
Bigger brakes and a firmer suspension setup will keep the super-SUV on four wheels and pointed in the right direction. Expect the extra power to be complemented by a full body kit, alloy wheels wrapped by low-profile tires, and a sport exhaust system. The cabin will receive M-designed interior components such as bucket seats for the front passengers, a specific instrument cluster, and a three-spoke steering wheel.
Buyers who don’t need 500 horses under the hood will have plenty of other options to choose from. Notably, the X3 range will include four- and six-cylinder gasoline- and diesel-burning engines, a mid-level M Performance model, as well as a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid model. In the United States, all variants of the X3 regardless of what’s under the hood will ship with all-wheel drive.
German magazine Focus believes the next-generation BMW X3 will be introduced before the end of next year. The performance-oriented, M-tuned model is expected to arrive about a year later, meaning it might be labeled as a 2019 model. When it lands, it will fight in the same segment as the upcoming Mercedes-AMG GLC 55 and the rumored Audi RS Q5.