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Do you need a V-8 to have X-rated fun?

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I know I have the right audience – 77% of you select the Ferrari, and I think we’ll enjoy it a lot more. Now this week, I’d like to get X-rated, have an X-travaganza, and whatever other X-themed phrases you can think of, because we’re going to pit a BMW X5 M Competition against a wittle tiny X3 M40i.

Which would you rather have?

The 2023 BMW X5 M vs the 2020 BMW X3 M40i

See the 2023 X5 M listing here

See the 2020 X3 M40i listing here

I love my X3 M40i. I might just like it more than the M3. It’s vanquished an X3 M, and provides the sort of driving experience that BMWs of yore were well-known for.

I’m getting ahead of myself, because this is really about the X5 M. Is it a tall M5? Not really. Is it like having an M station wagon? No. And yet, having driven them on track, I will admit that they really do defy the laws of physics. How can anything so big and tall handle so well? Answer: maximum stiffness in the suspension and gigantic low-profile tires.

Against it is a 2020 X3 M40i. It’s smaller, lighter, cheaper, and more tossable. It’s also more economical, just as comfortable, and nearly as fast. Is the X5 M just too much M?

The 2023 BMW X5 M

bmw-x5m
This is a pre-LCI example. Photo: Cars & Bids

Here we have a current model year X5 M with low miles – did they not like it? Once again, the LCI of the G X5 looks better, but that just means depreciation will hit this harder.

  • 7,300 miles
  • Alpine over Sakhir, a classic combo
  • The mighty S63 V-8 with 617 horsepower is here
  • Currently bid to $71,000
  • Clean CarFax
  • One wheel was scratched, but the owner fixed it. I’d want a clear shot of it, because these wheels ain’t cheap
  • No mods, a plus
  • Fully loaded, with an MSRP well into the $140s when new. Great chance to snag a new one with a discount

The X5 M handles incredibly well for an SUV of its size (though I find it still leans a good amount in turns). For the money, I’d have an M5 without question, but if you have a family and want some space, this is a great option.

What if you need a little less space?

The 2020 BMW X3 M40i

x3-m40i
Another pre-LCI example. Photo: Cars & Bids

Again, the LCI is a big-ish improvement, with new headlights and a larger touchscreen, but I doubt you’d miss it much here. Since we’re not tracking our X3, I don’t like the full M treatment nearly as much, which punishes you daily with its harsh ride in the name of coolness. Instead, this…

  • 19,950 miles
  • Bid to $25,000 so far – you can grab these from the low to mid thirties, a great deal
  • Alpine over Black leather inside – boring but acceptable on a daily.
  • I’m not a fan of the Cerium Grey trim on M Performance models
  • Hmm – front and rear bumper damage that does indeed need to be painted. My OCD would prevent me from driving around like that, so off to J&B it would go.
  • That said, it has a clean history
  • The owner bought it in November of 2023 and now it’s for sale? People, what are we doing with our financial car choices?
  • It’s out of warranty but I wouldn’t be afraid of anything booming up here.
  • The hall-of-fame B58, with 382 horsepower. It definitely makes more than that.

In the X3, you get a car that’s almost as fast (certainly more useably fast on the street) for half the price of the X5 M. Hell, they even look the same coming at you.

But of course, 617 horsepower is hard to deny. So, what would you choose?

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