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The BMW X3 M Buyer’s Guide

This is the BMW X3 M Buyer's Guide, complete with ordering guides, LCI changes and beautiful reference photos.

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You may look at this BMW X3 M and be fooled into thinking it’s simply a tall M3, or a substitute for the M3 Wagon the US never received. But this X is very much its own thing, and the F97 is BMW’s first attempt at a small performance SUV. This BMW buyer guide will help you sort through BMW’s mini mighty X.

Understanding the BMW X3 M

Read the X3 M vs the X3 M40i review here

POGs, or Product Ordering Guides, are an excellent way to begin.

As of 2024, the X3 M is still in production, but this will be its final year on the current platform, dubbed F97.

The X4 M is the same design, but features a sloped roof for a sportier look. The X4 M is nearly identical for the purpose of this guide, with the same options available.

The BMW X3 M vs the Competition

X3 M
Chrome badging means base model.

You can order your X3 M one of two ways:

  • The base model, with 473 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque. It’s distinguished by chrome badging and smaller wheels, though you can order larger ones from the Competition Package. Speaking of…
  • The Competition model, with 503 horsepower (an increase of 30), and 479 lb-ft of torque. It also features 21-inch style 892M wheels, black badging, Extended Merino Leather, an M Sport Exhaust (sounds the same, but has black tips), Extended Shadowline Trim, M Stripes on the seat belts, and M Sport seats from the M3.
X3 M
The blacked-out grille.
X3 M
The “Competition” is added with black badging.
X3 M
Chrome is deleted for black badging, with 21-inch 892M wheels added for the LCI.
X3 M
The Competition model gets M Stripes on the seat belts.
X3 M
The Competition model gets seats from an M3.
X3 M
Non-Shadowline lighting clusters are standard on both trims.
X3 M
20-inch style 764M wheels come on the base model.
X3 M
X3 M base seats.

Unlike the M3 and M4, there is no specific reason to order a base model aside from the $7,000 price increase for a Competition model. No stick is available, nor is a carbon fiber roof. Add the basic seats out of an X3 M40i, and the base X3 M seems even more bare bones than the M2.

Are there any special BMW X3 M models?

BMW never saw fit to add a CS or CSL to the X3 M lineup.

This is fitting, as M SUVs tend to be more luxury-oriented than their sedan-based counterparts.

Comparing the X3 M to the X3 M40i

X3 M vs X3 M40i
Pick an M40i for more comfort.

Read the full review here.

There’s a significant difference between a regular X3 and the full M, but the in-between model strikes a perfect balance between the two.

With its stiff suspension and brutish engine, the full M model can make an uncomfortable daily. Being an SUV with a taller ride height means the X3 M can only do so much to defy physics.

The M40i model make the base X3 M superfluous. The B58 engine is more powerful than BMW lets on, it’s a much more comfortable drive, looks nearly identical inside, and sounds better (yes, really).

The lesson here – get the Competition package, or get an X3 M40i.

What was updated with the BMW X3 M LCI?

BMW X3 M
The original headlights.
BMW X3 M
And original tail lights.
X3 M interior
The pre-LCI interior, including the original HVAC controls.

Sometimes an LCI is minor, but in the X3 M’s case, there’s a pretty significant update both inside and out. For 2022, the X3 M and X4 M received:

  • Updated headlights with optional Shadowline blackout trim
  • Updated tail lights on the X3 M
  • A new front and rear bumper design
  • New connected grille shape to better hide the front parking camera
  • Inside, there’s a new shifter taken from the M3 that replaces the one from an M5.
  • A new 12.3-inch screen replaces the 10.3 inch one.
  • New HVAC controls that mimic the M3 replaced the knob-style from the M5
  • A new digital dashboard, again taken from the M3 and replacing the more traditional dial design.
  • The start button moved from being on the dash, to down near the shifter.
  • New color options, such as Sao Paolo Yellow and Marina Bay Blue.
  • Revised suspension that softened the harsh ride.
BMW X3 M
The new tail lights provide a dimensional look.
X3 M
The new headlight treatment.
X3 M
The LCI digital instrument cluster.
X3 M
The LCI model gets a new shifter, and the starter button moved to the center console.
X3 M
The new 12.1-inch screen.

You may have just read all that and deduced that the X3 M is identical to the pre-LCI G80 M3 on the inside, and you’d be correct. Styling is subjective, but I find the X3 M’s LCI update to be very comprehensive and one of the better from BMW. Unless you like the original styling better, opt for the LCI version.

M Performance Parts for the BMW X3 M

X3 M
A few carbon pieces can replace the gloss black seen here.

Similar as they are, the X3 M and M3 have a few differences when it comes to carbon fiber:

  • The X3 M does not have a carbon fiber roof. You can opt for a clean look, or panoramic roof.
  • There is no Carbon Appearance Package on the X3 M, however you can choose to have a carbon fiber strut brace for $500. No brainer, that option.
  • Carbon Ceramic brakes are not available on the X3 M.
  • The carbon trim on the interior does not extend to the steering wheel. I find this to be a huge omission on many M cars.
  • BMW offers carbon fiber side gills, mirrors, front brake inlets, and shark fin (Aramide), alone with a steering wheel inside. But overall, selections are much more limited.

BMW Individual

X3 M
For the LCI update, BMW unlocked Individual color treatment.

Upon its debut, the X3M and X4 M did not have the option of Individual paint. However, the factory that produces these cars was expanded for the X7, and with the LCI in 2021, unique colors became an option.

When it comes to selecting your own colors, BMW is pretty open, and you can get a sense of the scope with their color picker.

X3 M Color Gallery

Donington Gray Metallic
Donington Gray Metallic
Sao Paulo Yellow
Sao Paulo Yellow
Black Sapphire Metallic
Black Sapphire Metallic
marina-bay-blue
Marina Bay Blue Metallic
toronto-red
Toronto Red
macao-blue
Macao Blue
laguna-seca-blue
Leguna Seca Blue, with a British Racing Green X4 M.
Brooklyn Grey X4 M
Brooklyn Grey X4 M
Black Sapphire Metallic
Black Sapphire Metallic, Brooklyn Grey, and a wrapped color

Where to find one, and the importance of doing a PPI

The X3 M started production in 2020 through present day, with 2024 being its last year. I’m sure BMW will produce a second generation based on the latest G45 X3 when it debuts later in 2024.

For the time being, you can purchase a new one. Beyond that, look to Cars & Bids and Bring a Trailer. BMWs pop up all the time on those sites, and are almost always in good shape.

X3 M
As always, you want a PPI.

Regardless of where you find one, a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) is critical. I will not sit here and write that BMW M cars are driven by angels, used solely for picking up baby from day care or taken out only on date night with your boo. I’ve been around hundreds of them, and while 90% are not abused, they are all driven hard (as they should be).

Personally, I’d stay away from any modded car. You can do that yourself, and who knows just how much “’bout dat boost life” the previous owner was, or who did the work. Work receipts can help – if a reputable shop did the upgrades and you like the car, by all means.

What’s a good price for a BMW X3 M?

X3 M

While there might be a ton of examples for the M2, M3, and M5, it seems that the X3 M has not yet reached that level of popularity.

Just four have been listed on Cars & Bids, with two sold. A very lonely pre-LCI sold for $61,500 on Bring a Trailer.

A broader search does show about 200 used examples currently for sale. There’s almost no discount for an LCI version – those are going for well over $60,000. Lowering your standards to the pre-LCI will get you down to an average of $45k for some, most with reasonable mileage. Once you head down this path, you must be cautious. Some dealer will list cars as a Competition model, when it clearly isn’t.

x3-m-for-sale
This isn’t a Comp, so be careful out there.

Because the X3 M provides only limited used examples, it’s difficult to say if certain options are worth more. The Comp model absolutely will be, and Individual colors can sometimes add to the bottom line as well. My advice here is, if you see an example you like (and the price is reasonable) go for it. It’s unlikely you’ll find another exactly the same, and not for a significant discount.

Common problems with the BMW X3 M

X3 M
The X3 M works as well as other modern M cars.

The X3 M features perhaps BMW’s best inline-six to date, the S58. The engine debuted with this car and has since been passed on to the M2, M3 and M4, along with the X4 M.

Modern BMWs are greatly improved with reliability, and the X3 M is no exception. There are no current major recalls, nor outstanding issues for the X3 M, although you can always check the NHTSA website for your specific model year.

It’s also crickets on the forums, where the car seems to have mostly minor issues.

The regular X3 does have a few problems, but the M version is a significantly different car that does not share many parts with lesser X.

Should I buy a BMW X3 M?

X3 M

I will confess that BMW M SUVs confuse me. They are naturally tall and large, putting them at a disadvantage compared to their sedan and coupe counterparts. They excel at defying physics, but it’s not always an enjoyable experience. 5,000 pounds and seven inches of ground clearance will always limit you at the end of the day.

If the M3 Wagon were an option, I’d easily tell you which you should get.

But you can’t get an M3 wagon, and sometimes an SUV is just easier. Even the X3 M is an overall comfortable car that offers a ton of cargo room. It’s an acceptable daily in LCI trim, more so than the original, depending upon how hard-core you are (and how far you drive daily).

And since any X3 M is a rough ride, try an X3 M40i or an Audi SQ 5 to see if the bone-crunching is something you can tolerate.

But hey, if you need the space, like the look, or are a parent that wants to have their cake and eat it too, the X3 M is sure to be the coolest ride at the school pickup line.

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