X & M : BMW M and M Performance X models

By topgearsingapore, 15 December 2019

Technology and engineering advancements have created many wonders for the modern world.

We have sent men to the moon and beyond, made global shopping available at our fingertips and to the chagrin of many, are on the cusp of creating artificial human counterparts.

These same technological wonders have also created another point of contention amongst many enthusiasts – the creation of SUVs and Crossovers that can drive “rather well”.

While driving “rather well” is good enough for most brands, it doesn’t cut it if you’re BMW – a company whose reputation is built on excellent driving dynamics. This is why in every BMW ‘X’ model range now resides several unhinged variants that have been elevated from the rest of its brethren.

These are the X models have been transformed by the magic touch of BMW’s M Division.

While it might be easy to simply dismiss BMW’s Ultimate Driving SAVs as a trend, the lineage of these high-performance machines go back almost 20 years, long before the first-ever M-version X-car rolled off the assembly line.

A time when BMW experimented with the first generation X5 by shoehorning a V12 sourced from the iconic McLaren F1 into its engine bay, thus creating the now legendary and honestly quite insane X5 Le Mans.

With 700 horsepower, the X5 Le Mans remains the most powerful SUV/SAV BMW has ever made. It might have been a one-off experiment back in the day, but it laid the foundation for what would eventually become an entire stable of M-fettled X models in years to come, lead by none other than the first-ever BMW X5 M and X6 M.

Fast forward to 2019, and there are now both M and M Performance X models, with the latter offering a taste of what the full-bodied M models can deliver. Think of it as a tease, or as naughty foreplay before enjoying the Full “M”-onty.

2019 also sees the introduction of not just one, but six of these special machines in Singapore. The BMW X2 M35i, X3 M Competition, X4 M Competition, X5 M50i, X6 M50i and the big boy, the X7 M50i.

First up the X2 M35i, BMW’s hot hatch on stilts and baby of the M Performance X models. The X2 M35i pokes its angry snout into our group with 302 horses and a healthy 450Nm of torque all derived from a lovely turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-four, the most powerful production four-cylinder built by BMW.

Paired with this engine is a slick-shifting eight-speed gearbox with a mechanical limited-slip differential. This hot crossover will dispatch the century sprint from standstill in 4.9 seconds.

Moving up the size ranks in the M Performance range, we have the latest iterations of the X5 M50i and the X6 M50i. Both feature BMW’s N63 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, the same version of the engine found in the M850i. In the X model applications, it pumps out 523 fine German stallions and a ground-shifting 750Nm of torque between 1,800 and 4,600 rpm.

At the time of their launch, these heavy-hitters were the most powerful X models BMW had ever made. With power channelled through an xDrive all-wheel-drive system and an M Sport differential via an eight-speed automatic transmission, 0-100km/h is demolished in 4.3 seconds for both cars, which match the sprint times of the X5 M and X6 M from a generation before.

Speed doesn’t come at the expense of space and design either, as both cars have been given a much more aggressive look to match their inner personas. They might have gotten slightly bigger, but they are also quicker and with adaptive dampers as standard, more dynamic than before.

Rounding-up our collection of M Performance X models is the biggest one of them all, the X7 M50i. Don’t be fooled by its thicc exterior, this X7 M50i is also powered by the same 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 and running gear as its smaller siblings.

With space for an extra two passengers in the back, the X7 M50i takes 4.7 seconds to hit 100km/h, 0.4 seconds off its smaller siblings but we reckon, plenty quick for a seven-seater.

BMW X3 M Competition & X4 M Competition
BMW X3 M Competition & X4 M Competition

Moving on from the M Performance models, we come to the full-bodied M machines. The X3 M Competition and the X4 M Competition are developed from the start with the intention of delivering an M3/M4 driving experience, and were originally referred to internally as the M3X and M4X. As a testament to BMW M’s development in their driving dynamics, both of these M-fettled X machines were launched on a race track.

Visually both the X3 M and X4 M Competition cars receive more aggressive grilles and spoilers to complement the punch from the newly-developed engine. A stonking 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline-six with a closed-deck block, forged crankshaft, pistons and connecting rods. Compared with the 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six units found in the M4, the engine in these X models is 9kg lighter. Coupled with a retuned ECU and exhaust, the X3/X4 M Competition deliver 503 horses and a generous helping of 600Nm.

(Click HERE to read our review of the X3/X4 M Competition)

So for those keen to explore the ‘X&M’ side of life, these machines are available for driving pleasure in your preferred shape, size and ability. With all of them more than ready to take on abuse in the mean city streets, on the punishing tracks and for those rare special occasions, indulge yourself in some rough and cheeky off-road fun.


Related Articles