It’s a conundrum. Do you buy the fast obnoxious sport coupe or a proper luxury crossover for your family? On one side of the driveway, you want a car that can provide weekend thrills and elevate your standing in the corporate carpark. On alternate concrete, though, you really need space and comfort when taking little Cooper and Aurora to piano lessons or for a week away to Grandma’s. Freeing space in your garage will be easy since the 2022 BMW X3 M Competition can do all of this – and do so with style that demands attention.
It gets it too, even when sitting still. This starts with the matte Frozen Marina Bay Blue Metallic paint that should be hand-washed, but draws eyes towards its larger grille, thinner LED headlamps, and aero-tuned air breathers on the front fenders. Black accents and 21” competition wheels give it a more sinister look while quad exhausts poking through the rear bumper wave good-bye.
Interiors are more welcoming, but clearly crafted for spirited travel. Sueded contrasting color M Sport seats are unique to the Competition Package and look like they’ll grip you, your mother, and all of your offspring on curvy roads while keeping them comfortable with heated cushions front and rear. A thick heated steering wheel M stitching, lustrous carbon fiber trim, and tri-zone automatic climate control add panache. Check the red, white, and blue M stripes on the seatbelts too.
A full technology suite keeps everybody entertained and safe. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto ease device connections to the standard Harman Kardon audio system. BMW still employs its console joywheel-based iDrive infotainment system and all of its deep menus, but it’s easier to navigate with a dash touchscreen. Gesture with your finger in the air to change volume or tracks and configure the flatscreen instrument display to your choosing.
Safety was clearly a priority given automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, and rear cross path detection systems. Adaptive cruise, rain-sensing wipers, and a head-up display lighten the driving load across all conditions.
I think you’ll find substantially more than adequate performance whether cruising effortlessly on the Interstate or making haste on twisty two-lanes for some weekend stress relief. Beneath the hood is a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine producing 503 horsepower and 479 lb.-ft. of torque – all delivered to the all-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration rivals supercars, running 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds. But, you don’t really need that to get your offspring to band class. Fuel economy, however, is a hideous 15/20-MPG city/highway.
Driving the M3 Competition goes far beyond the rocketry. By adjusting drive modes in the console, the steering weight, transmission shift points, throttle sensitivity, suspension firmness, and exhaust tone can be configured from Comfort (soft/quiet) to Sport + (stiff/obnoxious). You can even turn the exhaust rumble down when exiting your subdivision in early morning. In no mode is it a 7-Series sedan, but the X3 M can be coerced into family-friendly pleasantness for long trips while retaining the ability to amp it up for a little fun.
There’s never perfection when one starts making compromises, but BMW did admirable work in creating a comfortable daily family car that can do double-duty as a weekend track toy with minor compromises in either mission. But, the capability to transform from one to the other does not come cheap. While a base X3 starts at $43,700, this one came to $87,345. Competitors include the Mercedes-AMG GLC, Audi SQ5, Genesis GV70, and Tesla Model Y.
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