BMW X3 M continues testing, sounds very M3 (video)

BMW has been spotted once again testing the upcoming X3 M at the Nurburgring in Germany. The new model will join the rapidly-growing premium mid-size performance SUV market, with the likes of the Jaguar F-PACE SVR and Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV. BMW has confirmed an X4 M will also join the showroom alongside the X3 M.

Mercedes-AMG just reset the Nurburgring lap record for a production SUV with its GLC 63 S, which also competes in the same market segment. It clocked a time of 7.49.369. This followed Alfa Romeo’s once record-setting time of 7:51.7 in the Stelvio QV. Is BMW M looking for a turn with the trophy?

Specifications on the X3 M are yet to be confirmed, but speculations and reports suggest it will use a variation of the S55 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six that’s seen in the M3 and M4. This would be a step up from the B58 BMW engine used in the current flagship X3 M40i. Word has it the engine could be turned up from 317kW in the regular M3/M4 to around 360kW for the X3.

Given the X3 M will be heavier than the M3, albeit based on the newer CLAR platform unlike the F30 3 series, the extra power and all-wheel drive grip could see it perform quicker 0-100km/h sprints. Some of the competition is already stopping the clock in under 4.0 seconds.

It looks like BMW is testing a few prototype examples. And as you can hear in the spy video below, the X3 M definitely has that distinctive M3/M4 engine sound, with its slightly tinny undertone lower in the revs, and rasp higher up in the revs. BMW M will probably adopt the latest eight-speed automatic for the X3 M, from the M5, as opposed to the seven-speed dual-clutch auto from the M3.

BMW has confirmed the new model will feature an intelligent all-wheel drive system developed by M division, as well as an active M differential for the rear axle. We’d expect a number of driving modes to play around with as well to help ensure the SUV remains as versatile as tradition holds for M cars.

Most of the body and design trimmings appear to be complete, with just the disorienting wrap concealing the look. There’s the trademark quad tailpipes at the back, a neat aero kit, and unique alloy wheels likely in staggered sizes front to rear. Check out spy video below for more. A full debut is expected in the next few months.

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.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.