The Nouveau Horsepower War Begins

BMW Just Raised the Bar for CUVs


February 13, 2019 Cars By Photo by BMW
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BMW just announced the X3 M and X4 M Competition trims will come with the most powerful straight-six engines ever fitted to one of its cars, rated at 510 horsepower. Yep, you read that right. BMW’s middle-of-the-road compact SUVs will put the current M3 to shame, at least on one line of the spec sheet.

With the massive shift in popularity to compact SUVs and crossovers from sedans and hatchbacks, these sort of hot rods were inevitable. Mercedes dove in head first with the 503 horsepower AMG GLC 63 S. Now it’s BMW’s turn – and they’re upping the ante. BMW took its turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six and tuned it to 480 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. Notably, that’s just for the standard X3 M and X4 M, which already outmuscle the current M3. The M division then coerced another 30 horses out of the turbos for the Competition trims.

To put all this newfound power to the road, BMW gave the CUVs the same M xDrive all-wheel-drive system currently on duty in the M5, plus an active differential and M-specific suspension and brakes. Once the 510 horsepower finally gets to the wheels, the M Competiton compact CUVs will go from 0-60 in 4.1 seconds, only down two tenths on the M3. And, for historical significance, that’s more than a second faster than a Ferrari Testarossa.

BMW has yet to mention the price tag, but seeing as how the AMG GLC 63 S set squarely in its sights, expect the X3 M and X4 M to start around the $80,000 mark. And don’t be surprised if Audi comes out swinging with the long-awaited RS Q5. The next step in this new age horsepower war? If history’s cyclical nature is anything to go by, it’s only a matter of time before brands from America, Japan and Korea build wildly more affordable, yet just as powerful crossovers. You don’t have to like the way the mini-SUVs look, but you have to admit they’re getting interesting.

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