X-Factor

A couple of months ago, BMW released the new X3 and X4 developed by the M Division. For the joys of all SUV lovers the G01 series is complete with some serious performance vehicles, both very capable on the road.

Given the vast choice on the market today, some thought that the M Division should have introduced their first SUV’s (pardon, SAV for speaking BMW language) earlier… but here they are nonetheless: the new X4M and X3M are the 4×4’s that are aimed at pure and uncompromising road performance. Together, they sure make an interesting pair especially considering that they’re incredibly similar between each other and in their behavior: brutally fast, thanks to their new 480hp 6 cylinder twin power turbo engines and incredibly agile for being two big SUV’s thanks to a specific and highly focused chassis development.

BMW was among the first companies to introduce the first vehicles of this specific segment: in 1999, with the first X5, it was able to revolutionize the market. Certainly not the first Company to produce such a vehicle, (Range Rovers and Jeeps were already roaming the world) but it was an entirely new concept. A 4×4 which was made specifically for the road: taller, bigger and competent on every road surface. The first “small” SUV from BMW, the X3 appeared in 2003 with the E83 series debuting. An instant success, it was a taller and bigger 3 Series with the benefits of being a more practical road-focused 4×4. Needless to say that this sparked some interest in those customers who loved the idea of having a true, high performance SUV from BMW. 16 years went by and there was never an attempt by BMW to create a mid-sized X3 from the M Divsion… until now.

Both equipped with M xDrive with M Active Differential, M Steptronic with Drivelogic transmission (derived directly from the M5) and punching out 600 Nm of torque, they’re the heavyweights we were curious to drive. As you would expect, they’re predominantly rear wheel drive and both offer the choice of completely de-activating the DSC, allowing the car to be more playful during hard driving. Equipped with dedicated M-developed suspension with multilink geometry, they provide a sharp and highly satisfying handling for a SUV, but also a bone-shaking hard ride in normal driving. Both cars cope well with the asphalt, providing excellent levels of grip at any time but if you’re looking for comfort… well you should look elsewhere.

Even in the softest setting, both the X4 and the X3 provide a hard bump-and-rebound set-up, ideal for the track, the two SAV’s ideal hunting ground. While their city driving appeal might be limited to their flashy and fashionable appearance, they’re the perfect vehicles to use when being late when you’re in a twisty mountain road. Precise and sharp enough to rival any performance saloon, they both combine extreme acceleration with a never-before seen sharpness that it’s rarely seen on any vehicle of this segment. Both are practical also with plenty of boot space and luxurious enough with their premium-grade leather interior, they’re the modern-day boy-racer all-terrain sports 4x4s. The sharpness doesn’t seem to be compromised by the weight and nor is the overall capability: braking late and driving aggressively into the corner is possible and even inexperienced drivers can live the joys of proper sports-car driving.

While the gravel is not their terrain of choice, they both offer extreme capabilities on road. While we old school guys might still want a classic coupé or a performance saloon, the new X4 and X3 from the M Division are surely another demonstration of the Brand unquestionable ability to turn even the most regular German SUV into an exciting performance machine.

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