At first, I thought about bringing my X3 M40i to this party, but with winter tires and and over 100 fewer horses, they really are very different cars. The 2022 X3 M is a “Real M Car”, and it drives like one. But can it hold a candle to its shorter brother, the M3? I head to Detailer’s Domain and test out Phil’s new 2022 LCI-equipped X3 M.
The 2022 X3 M Competition overview
First, let’s take a peak at the new X3 M. Painted in BMW Individual British Racing Green and prepped for the shoot by Phil himself, this is one sharp-looking car. The Competition Package adds $7,000 to the price, but I can’t image ordering the car any other way with no stick option to hold you back. A unique exhaust, M Sport Seats, M Seat Belts (I miss those on the M3 Base), and Extended Shadowline trim join bigger, M3-style wheels and of course, 30 more horses.
The S58 in the X3 M gets revised for 2022 to match the M3’s offering with updated internal components. 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft match the M3 Competition’s figures. It’s just as fast in a straight line despite the added weight of the SUV, and with all-wheel drive, launches as hard as the M3 Comp.
If you want a stick, than the M3/M4 Base is great. But for any other new M car, the Competition Package is a must-have.
Inside, it’s nearly identical to my X3 M40i, but the dashboard is M-specific (again matching the M3), and the M seats are much more supportive than the thrones in the mid-level car. The M steering wheel and shifter also match the rest of the lineup.
Driving the 2022 X3 M Competition
Out on the road, the X3 M drives exactly as advertised: a tall M3. It does have a ride that’s too harsh, no doubt thanks to stiffer springs to keep additional weight in check. The sensation of sitting on the car, vs inside it is one that never goes away.
I’ve driven F-generations of the X5 M and X6 M on track, and it’s a disconcerting experience. Too much body roll and lean in the corners, and a lot of dive and squat under braking and accelerating. It was harder to drive those cars fast. This new X3 M is much better, and just as fast as those V-8 monsters. If you’re looking for an SUV that defies the laws of physics, any current X M will impress you, but the smaller dimensions of the X3 make it more enjoyable than an X5.
Still, therein lies the problem. At 4,600 lbs sans driver, there’s a lot of physics to overcome. No X3 belongs on the track. But point the nose at the road, and it’s a much different experience.
Without the pretense of racing, the X3 M is an excellent car that has all the traits of my X3 M40i, but with more power and capability. Winter wheels are a must, but it’s an otherwise perfect daily car. The ride might be a bit harsh, and the exhaust always lets you know it’s there, but if it’s too much for you, the M40i is the way to go. Cargo space is excellent, and Phil’s unique color makes the car stand out even more from pedestrian versions.
Comparing to the G80 M3
The car you want isn’t available here in the U.S., and that’s the G81 M3 wagon coming out sometime this year in Europe. BMW, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that we love SUVs too much to ever get back in a wagon.
As you’d expect, the X3 M and M3 are extremely close relatives. The X3 truly is a tall M3 with a hatch. They share everything from engines to steering wheels. To split hairs, give the X3 M a nod for it’s nicely stitched seats and panoramic moon roof if you dig that sort of thing. The M3 is more playful due to its lower ride height and less weight, but the X3 M has slightly better steering feel. It also sounds ever so slightly better.
The M3 can get away with being your “special” car, while the X3 M really is meant to be daily driven. Choose your ride accordingly.
BMW Individual Paint for the X3 M
Phil is the first owner to have his X3 M painted in British Racing Green, a classic color that looks great on the lines of the SUV. A few months back, BMW released a list of Individual paints for the X3 and X4:
- Frozen Black Metallic
- Frozen Marina Bay Blue
- Grigio Teseto Pearl
- Ruby Red II
- Urban Green
- Malachite Green
- Nardo Grey
- Froze Deep Grey Metallic
There’s also a website that allows you build your own Individual X3, which you can find here.
Funny thing is, you won’t find British Racing Green on that list. And you’ll see that the list for the X3 M is much smaller than say, the M3. That’s because BMW’s plant in South Carolina is just now implementing Individual Colors, and are reluctant to open up the order books to crazy colors.
Now that the car is done, future owners have an example to point to if they want the same color. BMW can be fickle, and I explain the Individual process more here.
Thanks to Phil of Detailer’s Domain for inviting me to shoot the X3 M!
2022 X3 M Mega Gallery
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I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.
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