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2022 BMW X3 M Competition Test Drive

It's been 50 years since BMW launched its in-house motorsports division to focus on racing. But today, the BMW M performance sub-brand is perhaps better known for its creation of exhilarating production vehicles. Building on the original M legends like the M1 and the M5, the current lineup of BMW M has grown to eight nameplates, half of which are now SUVs. 

BMW launched the X3 M SUV in 2020 to compete against a growing number of compact performance SUVs like the Range Rover Velar, and with additional torque and quicker acceleration, the 2022 BMW X3 M gains even more performance capabilities. And as if the standard X3 M wasn't good enough? I was recently able to sample the updated version of BMW's performance SUV in its range-topping BMW X3 M Competition configuration. 

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2022 BMW X3 M Competition Exterior

2022 BMW X3 M Competition Test Drive

Improving upon the bold looks of the third-gen X3, the 2022 X3 lineup receives a handful of styling tweaks including redesigned bumpers, a larger grille with a wider lower air intake, and new LED taillights with a cool 3D shape. With the BMW-signature winged door mirrors and the quad exhaust outlets, the X3 M models add a sportier appearance. 

Checking the box for the M Competition Package ($7,000) makes the X3 even meaner, as it adds   staggered-width, 21-inch wheels and an abundance of blacked-out "shadowline" exterior trim. To go along with the revised look, the X3 M also adds some new colors for 2022, like my tester's optional ($550) Brooklyn Grey Metallic paint job. That said, despite its aggressive design and sporty capabilities, the 2022 BMW X4 M Competition is still a practical SUV with 8.1 inches of ground clearance.

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2022 BMW X3 M Competition Interior

2022 BMW X3 M Competition Test Drive

Living up to its M badges, the interior of the 2022 BMW X3 M Competition has the form and function of a true sports car. The X3 M Competition comes standard with the race-inspired M Sport bucket seats with impressive amounts of comfort and bolstering, and this tester added a splash of color with the Sakhir Orange leather on the seats, door panels and center console. Speaking of color, the front seats feature the illuminated BMW M logo, and the signature red and blue stripes are stitched into the seat belts. 

For an extra dose of sportiness, the cabin features plenty of carbon fiber trim, and the thick-rimmed steering wheel is wrapped in supple leather and offers up shift paddles and M mode buttons for maximum driver enjoyment. To match the modest upgrades of the exterior, the cabin received key improvements, including a larger infotainment screen a cleaner center stack. One thing I didn't appreciate about this revised cabin is that the push-button starter has been moved from the dash down to the center console.

Traditionally, enthusiasts had to sacrifice comfort in order to enjoy performance. But the X3 M Competition is a family-friendly sports car with plenty of room for five passengers as well as 28.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. The new X3, which launched in 2020, is far roomier than its predecessor, and the cabin is packed with more tech as well. In addition to that large infotainment screen, the X3 M also comes standard with a massive 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and this tester was equipped with the Executive Package ($3,650), which adds head-up display, wireless charging and gesture control along with a panoramic roof, front and rear heated seats, and a heated steering wheel.

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2022 BMW X3 M Competition Powertrain

2022 BMW X3 M Competition Test Drive

The 2022 BMW X3 M is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. In base form, the X3 M produces 473 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque, but stepping up to the X3 M Competition cranks up performance to the tune of 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. 

For those keeping score, that's an increase of 37 lb-ft over the 2021 model! The increased power output compared to the "standard" X3 M was achieved through a retuned engine computer and a standard M sport exhaust system, but the fuel economy for both models remain the same: the X4 M and X4 M Competition have identical EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.

When you fire up the X3 M Competition, the engine lets out a wonderful note, and this 4,610-pound SUV backs up its sporty sound with equally impressive acceleration. Off the line, it pulls hard, and delivers a zero-to-60 time of 3.7 seconds. Every part of the X3 M Competition has been tuned by BMW M, so the shifts from the automatic transmission are lightning-fast, and the track-tuned suspension makes the rig impressively agile. Sure, the ride is on the firmer side, but anyone spending the extra money on this SUV is getting exactly what they paid for. 

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2022 BMW X3 M Competition Safety

2022 BMW X3 M Competition Test Drive

All 2022 BMW X3 lineup (including the M models) have received a 5-Star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. BMW's Active Guard brings frontal collision warning, city collision mitigation and daytime pedestrian detection, while the Active Driving Assistant has lane departure warning, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and rear collision preparation. The aforementioned Executive Package also adds the Parking Assistant Plus feature.

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2022 BMW X3 M Competition Overall

2022 BMW X3 M Competition Test Drive

SUVs are generally looked at as family-friendly appliances, but the 2022 BMW X3 M Competition proves that when done right, a performance SUV can be just as much fun to drive as a sports car. With improvements to the styling, chassis and drivetrain, the X3 M Competition lives up to the legendary performance BMW's M division is known for, but remains practical and comfortable for daily driving. 

As mentioned earlier, the X3 M Competition is priced commensurately with its performance capabilities. As a $7,000 option on the base X3 M, the lowest price you can expect to pay for the Competition model is just over $78,000, while the X3 M Competition used for this review (which was equipped with the Executive Package and premium paint job) had an as-tested price of $82,095.

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Jeffrey N. Ross | May 13, 2022

2022 BMW X3 M Competition Specs

Layout

4-door
5-passenger
AWD

Engine/Transmission

Twin-turbo 3.0L I6
503 hp, 479 lb-ft
8-speed auto

Mileage

15/20
(city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★ ★


AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★


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**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.