2020 BMW X3 M Competition: Altered Carbon


Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Anytime you have BMW’s red M1 and M2 tabs at your fingertips — in this case, a 2020 X3 M Competition SAV— then know that the drive to score quarantine essentials such as toiletries and groceries is going to be far more exciting than a typical domestic outing.  And with its fancy carbon elements intended for proper fit and finish and virtuoso performance, I truly enjoyed every bit of this week’s tasks.

Just like Netflix’s Altered Carbon sci-fi series where humans can advance their consciousness with new, state of the art physiques, the X3 M Competition transforms a base X3 into an elite interstellar warrior with every fancy technology imaginable. The vehicle is powerful, intelligent, sophisticated, and packaged with the latest advancements that make yesterday feel primal.

From X1 to X8, BMW produces an “X” Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV) for every consumer persona from exploratory urban singles to large on-the-go families looking for matchless comfort and protective safety technology in their utilities. If you have a penchant for adventure, then the X5 might be the choice; or maybe you live in a metropolis and require ultimate mobility in a slighter package for maneuverability and parking. In this case, the 2020 BMW X3 M Competition could be your target fit. Without fail, its 3-liter BMW M TwinPower Turbo inline-6-cylinder and 8-speed M Sport automatic transmission with Drivelogic, Sport, and Manual shift modes work in unison to excite every excursion. Launch Control is also available for weekends at the track when you feel like burning up that expensive 265/40/ZR21 Michelin Pilot Sport rubber.

The $82,695 ($76,900 MSRP) X3 M Competition rolled into Automotive Rhythms driveway donning a Donington Grey Metallic suit accessorized with a sumptuous Leather Merino/Alcantara interior and Midrand Beige contrast stitching. I know I know that’s a load of cash for the smaller German, but for M Performance, you have to pay to play. Keep in mind the M Competition package is $10,000 more than the X3 M. With that, the $3,900 Executive Package is a must if evolution and contentment are staples of your life. Some of the inclusions are Gesture Control, Head-up Display with M view that shows the gauges (200 mph / 8000 rpm), Parking Assist Plus, wireless charging, a rearview camera, WiFi hotspot, and heated M-Spoke steering wheel and seats. Adaptive full LED headlights, an aggressive aerodynamic kit, and the M rear spoiler add to the body’s flare.

Behind the wheel, I achieved maximum disruption by way of the M TwinPower Turbo’s 503 pulsating horses, and a 4-second 0-60 mph time. Moreover, the M Competition package converts the X3 M into Altered Carbon’s Takeshi Kovacs 2.0 featuring more weaponry such as an active M Sport exhaust system and its tantalizing melodies from throttle engagement. No worries, the throaty roars can be tamed and deactivated when civility is more important than adrenaline and grandstanding. The vehicle also receives contrasting Extended Shadowline Trim, which blacks out some aspects of the truck such as the kidney grille to pair with the corner conquering 21″ V-spoke bi-color jet black rims. Yet, the oddity I always thought, is BMW’s blue caliper designation to represent the M moniker. The M Compound brake setup also comes with cross-drilled rotors to disperse heat effectively. Lastly, the package welcomes intricate 14-way M Sport seats that are not just fitted for aggressive driving but are ultra-comfortable, stabilizing, and intimate. Plus, they look mean as hell.

Furthermore, BMW M engineered this tech machine with an M-tuned xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system, an Adaptive M Suspension and M Sport Differential, and M Drive with M Dynamic Mode, all of which do the heavy lifting for you. These systems turn daily commuting into fun-filled activities. Under the M setup, the red M1 and M2 tabs are configurable to the owner’s delight, while M xDrive can be set into 4WD and 4WD Sport (with DSC off). So, M1 for example, you can adjust DSC on or off, set the transmission’s high thresholds, and engine, chassis, and steering response can be placed into Efficient, Comfort, or Sport Plus modes. With Sport Plus engaged and the vehicle in 2nd gear, I could easily hit 60 mph before redlining. At 80 mph steering is taut in Sport Plus to offer the confidence required for performance driving. Expect 19 highway and 14 city mpg.

BMW Navigation pairs with iDrive 6.0 and its 10.25” touchscreen featuring the ConnectedDrive app to offer one of the best multimedia experiences in the auto industry. A 12.3” dynamic digital instrument cluster, carbon trim, and a panoramic sunroof infuse more interior flavor. Though, the weak link is the base Harman Kardon audio that produces distorted sounds and echoes. The 2nd-row seats recline for relaxation and fold flat to store sizeable items. Also, there is a spare tire under the floorboard. As stated, extenuating circumstances in these times of COVID-19 shifted my focus on essentialism like drives to purchase produce, visit local running trails for exercise, and score supplies from Lowes including a 3.2 cu-ft garage fridge for additional frozen goods.

Of course I didn’t drive as often as normal with quarantine life in full effect, but always took the longer routes when I stepped out to enjoy the excitement of the feisty and ready to rumble SAV. Trust me, the superhero demeanor of the 2020 BMW X3 M Competition is far from accidental behavior!

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