2020 BMW X3 M and X4 M give fierce SUVs up to 503hp to play with

BMW's M division is further spreading its attentions through the automaker's SUVs, with the 2020 BMW X3 M and 2020 X4 M promising up to 503 horsepower in Competition form. The two new models take the X3 SUV and the X3 "Sports Activity Coupe" and drop in the 6-cylinder M TwinPower Turbo engine for a 3.0-liter blast of power.

They're the first cars in BMW's line-up to use the new BMW M S58 engine, a six-cylinder in-line with a lofty 7,200 rpm redline. It packs a forged crankshaft so as to deal with high levels of torque, and a closed-deck for the engine block for increased rigidity. That, BMW says, means it can handle higher combustion pressure.

Two mono-scroll turbochargers are then strapped on, while upgraded turbo compressor wheels and a water-to-air intercooler are added. Maximum fuel injection pressure is now 350 bar, and there's Valvetronic fully-variable valve timing and Double-VANOS variable camshaft timing.

The result is peak torque of 442 lb-ft between 2,600 and 5,600 rpm in the regular 2020 X3 M and 2020 X4 M, along with the maximum 473 horsepower between 6,250 and 7,200 rpm. It's enough for 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds, with top speed limited electronically to 155 mph.

BMW will also have a Competition package, however. With that, peak torque arrives between 2,600 and 5,950 rpm. Maximum horsepower in the X3 M Competition and X4 M Competition climbs to 503 hp, and is enough to trim the 0-60 mph time to 4.0 seconds. Add the M Driver's Package and top speed rises to 174 mph in the regular cars and 177 mph in the Competition models.

Either way, drivers get an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic and paddle-shifters. Three drive modes adjust the transmission logic, from smoother more comfortable shifts through to shorter shift times and the engine being held in the upper rev range. There are also drive Sport and Sport+ drive modes, and the Competition models throw in an M Sport exhausts system with variable exhaust flaps.

All-wheel drive is standard, and there's another new system there too. The 2020 X3 M and X4 M use the M xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive setup, rear-wheel biased to see all of the engine power funneled to the back up until the point where the rear wheels start to lose traction.

M Dynamic Mode throws in an M xDrive 4WD Sport option. An alternative to the normal DSC, it allows for some drifting, too. DSC Off mode can be combined with the regular all-wheel drive or 4WD Sport mode. An Active M Differential shifts up to 100-percent of the power between the left and right rear wheels, while an electronically controlled multiple clutch handles transition front to rear.

A new M-specific bracing package has been implemented at the front end of the SUVs, including a strut brace in the engine compartment joining the shock towers for greater stiffness. Come August of this year, meanwhile, a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic version will be offered optionally, giving the stiffness improvement but with lower curb weight.

Double-joint spring front suspension and five-link rear suspension are standard, with Adaptive M Suspension electronically-controlled dampers. There's also M Servotronic variable ratio power steering with speed-sensitive assistance. As for the brakes, 15.6-inch front drilled inner-vented discs get four-piston fixed calipers, while the 14.6-inch rear discs have single-piston floating calipers.

20-inch polished Orbit Grey wheels are standard on the X3 M and X4 M. The X3 M Competition and X4 M Competition step up to 21-inch wheels with a polished Jet Black finish.

As for styling, there's black treatment for the kidney grille – with high-gloss black surrounds on the Competition models – and integrated Air Breathers on the front fenders. Model-specific rear diffusers are flanked with tailpipes, and there's a new roof spoiler. Color options include a new Toronto Red metallic and an M-exclusive Donington Grey metallic. Competition cars throw in high-gloss mirror caps.

Inside, black or oyster Vernasca leather on sports seats is standard in the X3 M and X4 M, along with embossed M logos and aluminum carbon trim. The Competition variants get extended Merino leather in either black or Sakhir Orange/Black or Adelaide Grey. Carbon fiber interior trim is optional, as is extended leather.

M-specific instruments are on the dash, behind an M leather steering wheel with two customizable setup shortcuts; there's a restyled shift lever. A head-up display is optional, as is adaptive cruise control, heating for the front and rear seats, gesture control, parking assistant plus, wireless charging, and WiFi hotspot support. Navigation and Apple CarPlay are standard, as is keyless entry and adaptive full LED lights, plus a Harman Kardon surround sound audio system.

Production of the new cars will kick off in April 2019, BMW says, in the automaker's South Carolina plant. Pricing will be confirmed closer to the 2020 BMW X3 M and 2020 BMW X4 M's release.