2018 BMW X3 M confirmed, barking prototype hits Nurburgring

BMW has been spotted once again test driving a prototype version of the upcoming ‘F97’ X3 mid-size SUV. And this time we get some pretty convincing evidence there is going to be a proper M performance version.

2018 BMW X3 M prototype

As spotted by YouTuber Automotive Mike, the prototype gives off a distinct exhaust note and engine noise that seems all too familiar. According to reports, the ‘X3 M’ – name not confirmed – will sport one of BMW’s 3.0-litre inline six turbo-petrol engines.

Speculation suggests it will borrow plenty from the M3 and M4’s powertrain, including the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and 300kW-plus engine. Others are predicting BMW will stick to the eight-speed automatic featured in all regular models, although it could be tweaked.

It’s unknown at this stage if this will be an M Performance model, like the M235i, or a fully-fledged M model like the X5 and X6 M, and M3 and so on. Either way it is exciting news for BMW fans, as the company doesn’t currently offer a performance version of the X3. It will compete against the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 and upcoming GLC 63, and the Audi SQ5 diesel.

Aside from the news of the performance model, the next-gen X3, known as the F97, is set to adopt an all-new platform incorporating elements from the Cluster Architecture (CLAR). This platform debuted with the latest 7 Series, featuring carbon fibre technology. Even if the new X3 doesn’t get carbon fibre we can expect weight to be dropped by around 100kg.

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The current, second-gen X3 has been on sale now since 2011 with only a mild update applied in 2014. BMW is set to release the new model in 2017, with a potential unveiling taking place late this year.

Brett is the editor and founder of PerformanceDrive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.