Close

    • Bad G80 M3 sign? EVO trashes the 2020 BMW F97 X3M in review

      BMW enthusiasts on BimmerBoost are blown away by the new F97 X3M and F98 X4M BMW performance SUV's. The main reason for that is the S58 3.0 liter inline-6 twin turbo powerplant is showing incredible stock and tuned performance numbers.


      This also highlights how the BMW M brand effectively changed from well balanced sports car to powerhouse dragsters. M is supposed to be for Motorsport, remember? Well, the X3M seems to be more about power and going fast in a straight line than anything else.

      Considering the G80 M3 will share its underpinnings and drivetrain with the X3M this isn't a good sign:

      Quote Originally Posted by EVO
      Youíve heard the statement that there are no bad cars today, right? Well consider the BMW X3 M a rebuttal. Each of its ingredients are generally good; the basic X3 is a fine, if unremarkable midsize SUV, the powertrain will soon be found in the upcoming M3, and the tech is all predictably top notch, yet for some reason it doesnít quite come together.

      This is the first time BMW has released a full-fat M-version of the X3, so enters a very crowded and surprisingly diverse roster of rivals from all over the premium sector. Yet the X3 Mís rivals wonít give it an inch, as models like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and Porsche Macan Turbo are both deeply impressive performance SUVs that seem to be resonating with buyers. So why, and more potently how did BMW get it so wrong?
      BMW got the engine right, that is for sure. It's everything surrounding it that is a major letdown.

      The X3M actually ends up heavier than a V8 twin turbo powered GLC63. Also far less comfortable with an unforgiving suspension:

      Quote Originally Posted by EVO
      the X3 M more closely rivals the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Porsche Macan Turbo (without the air-springs optioned), yet where the Alfaís kerb-weight is nearly 150kg less than a Mercedes-AMG GLC 63S, the BMW, despite its more rudimentary suspension setup and two-cylinder deficiency is actually marginally heavier than the AMG at 2025kg.

      We kid you not, the X3 M is more uncomfortable on the road than our old Caterham 310R long termer. A quick look outside confirms the reasonable sidewalls on the standard-fit Michelin tyres arenít the culprits, rather the hilariously stiff springs and dampers. Hit an intrusion on the road surface and it takes no prisoners, crashing into the cabin with the full force of over two tonnes bouncing off the rigid tarmac. Flip between the modes on the adaptive dampers and it doesnít improve Ė slackening the dampers in the softer modes only makes the damping feel even more ham-fisted, while new anti-roll bars, engine mounts and suspension bushes all feel rock solid.
      While we are happy to have an X3M it seems the accounting department is the winner here filling a lineup niche and the M department did not sprinkle in their usual magic.

      At least that is EVO's conclusion:

      Quote Originally Posted by EVO
      The biggest problem is that the Stelvio and Macan both drive significantly better Ė while the Porsche might lack outright grunt, its dynamic polish and more rounded on-road package will appeal to a broader base. The Alfa, meanwhile, is almost hot hatchback-like with impressive poise, a playful handling balance and a fantastically charismatic twin-turbo V6 engine.

      This might sound harsh, but the X3 M feels like a product of an internal departmentís will to have this small niche in the market filled, rather than a car engineered by people with the passion or interest to execute it properly.
      Expect the G80 M3 to be the fastest M3 ever rather than the best M3 ever.

      This article was originally published in forum thread: Bad G80 M3 sign? EVO trashes the 2020 BMW F97 X3M in review started by Sticky View original post
      Comments 12 Comments
      1. Eleventeen's Avatar
        Eleventeen -
        You canít really predict how a lighter vehicle with a much lower center of gravity will behave based on the SUV chassis variant. Iím sure the G80 was developed as a sedan first and foremost, and then the X3M was developed based off of that.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Eleventeen Click here to enlarge
        I’m sure the G80 was developed as a sedan first and foremost, and then the X3M was developed based off of that.
        Wouldn't the development timeline point to the opposite?

        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Eleventeen Click here to enlarge
        You can’t really predict how a lighter vehicle with a much lower center of gravity will behave based on the SUV chassis variant.
        I'm pretty sure if I drove a Stelvio I would have an idea of how a Giulia would behave.
      1. Eleventeen's Avatar
        Eleventeen -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Wouldn't the development timeline point to the opposite?



        I'm pretty sure if I drove a Stelvio I would have an idea of how a Giulia would behave.
        The production timeline makes it seem like the X3M was designed first, but I’m sure the actual design process of the G80 began years ago.

        I think of it like an ambulance on a pickup truck chassis; the weight and center of gravity have a very noticable effect on handling. The G80 sure as $#@! won’t feel anything like an E46, though...
      1. maui86's Avatar
        maui86 -
        Couldn’t one compare the x5m to the m5 in terms of ride quality? If the m5 rides better, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume a similar difference between the x3m and m3?
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by maui86 Click here to enlarge
        Couldn’t one compare the x5m to the m5 in terms of ride quality?
        I don't think those two share the same underpinnings.
      1. nbrigdan's Avatar
        nbrigdan -
        There's a "reason" why the X3M's ride is so back breaking (not a good one though). Because the CUV is so bloody heavy, they use really stiff springs and dampers to keep the handling all in check. I'm sure the M3 will be more comfortable, because less weight will mean they will be able to back off the spring rates, etc.

        But will the remainder of the problems be solved? Maybe not. Will E92s increase in value? They probably should.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by nbrigdan Click here to enlarge
        There's a "reason" why the X3M's ride is so back breaking (not a good one though). Because the CUV is so bloody heavy, they use really stiff springs and dampers to keep the handling all in check. I'm sure the M3 will be more comfortable, because less weight will mean they will be able to back off the spring rates, etc.

        But will the remainder of the problems be solved? Maybe not. Will E92s increase in value? They probably should.
        This is somewhat amusing to me as a I had an X3. The original. The ride back then? Awful. I mean awful.

        It handled surprisingly great and was fun to drive. Essentially an E46 330i on stilts.

        How is it when I drive a Macan S it's as comfortable as my 911 if not more so but the X3 still rides like crap in 2020?
      1. Alpina_B3_Lux's Avatar
        Alpina_B3_Lux -
        I mentioned the X3M test a few weeks ago. Here is also the test of the M340i xDrive that echoes a lot of the things criticised in the X3M, notably bad steering and badly judged suspension components. Fast yes, but nothing else making the formerly driver-oriented cars one-dimensional acceleration vehicles.

        EVO 270 (January 2020): Text by Adam Towler

        BMW M340i xDrive

        It’s powerful, fast and has all the latest tech on board. So why can’t we get excited about BMW’s new M340i?
        by Adam Towler. Photography by Aston ParrottAttachment 60271


        Time was when the appearance of a new, top-of-the-range BMW 3-series was A Really Big Deal. Something to look forward to. Whether 2.5-litre E30, 2.5- or 2.8-litre E36, 2.8- or 3-litre E46 or even, to a lesser extent, an E90 with that lovely, raspy, magnesium N52 six, a big-engined 3er was all crisp, confident and unmistakable lines, symphonic engine and entertaining rear-drive dynamics. If the M3 was a stretch too far for the wallet, then opting for the top of the regular range was hardly something to weep into the sauerkraut over, and it was never, ever, a car to be confused with a sturdy but much less flamboyant rival from the other side of the tracks in Stuttgart, or Ingolstadt.

        But in more recent years that intangible specialness has morphed into the faceless, monochromed world of the generic modern German sports saloon, with specs and layouts converging on a strikingly similar recipe, everything down to the window switches described as generating ‘ultimate driving pleasure’, and yet remarkably possessing drearily limited driver appeal. A 3-series has continued to be a well-engineered and technologically advanced car with, in some circles, what is perceived to be the right badge on the bonnet, but, as an evo reader, would you really dream of owning one? The new car market is full of nicely designed, refined, advanced, comfortable, reliable and well-built cars. But those attributes alone are no longer enough to denote something special.


        Maybe the G20 3-series is different. This one is orange for a start, and the figure of 369bhp most definitely catches the eye. It’s also four-wheel drive, and in the back of my mind I dimly recall reading of BMW insisting this generation of 3 was a return to a real driver’s car from Munich.
        Sadly, Sunburnt Orange on paper equates in reality to a dark, miserable orange on a winter’s day in the UK, which rapidly becomes essentially brown with the first hint of dirt attached to the fearsomely complex surfacing. I’m tempted to put the boot in again on BMW’s current styling direction, but it’s not my place to tell you what looks good or not, and I think Aston Parrott’s imagery says everything you need to know.

        This latest evolution of the B58 modular straight-six and its confusing TwinPower branding yet single-turbo installation produces exactly the same power as it does torque (369bhp and 369lb ft – up from 320bhp and 330lb ft in the old F30 340i). Given that peak torque arrives from just 1850rpm (and hangs around to 5000), it should make short work of the stout 1670kg kerb weight, and indeed the figures suggest exactly that, 62mph arriving from a standing start in just 4.4sec.


        Prod the starter button and the engine fires with all the richness and deep-timbred tonality you’d hope for from a straight-six, and immediately the mood inside the BMW turns more optimistic. Sure, it’s no looker, but maybe the other departments at BMW have got their mojo back?
        There’s no other way of saying this, but the answer to the above is emphatically ‘no’.

        Let’s start with the engine, which is certainly a high point. Obviously, turbocharging brings its own benefits and compromises. To say the 340i’s performance is strong is to woefully undersell its accelerative capability. Boost arrives early and hard, and from there the 340i simply bolts to the horizon. It would destroy a Mitsubishi Evo VIII or Impreza WRX STI PPP away from the lights, leave a B7 RS4 looking a bit silly and yes, would be just a whale tail behind a Porsche 996 Turbo on full launch. And this is a ‘warm’ 3-series saloon, for heaven’s sake.

        Actually, it is unnecessarily fast, which feels as weird to write as it probably is to read. But the fact it has so much raw performance really doesn’t add much, if anything, to the driving experience. Sure, it’s capable of big speeds in a very compressed period of time, but it’s so refined – credit where credit’s due – that there’s limited joy to be had from the process, an affliction contributed to by an eight-speed torque-converter auto being the only gearbox offering. The overall result is a need to keep a keen eye on the speedometer (of which we’ll talk more later) and an underlying feeling that the whole procedure has been a mix of futility and irresponsibleness. Still, this B58 would be hilarious in a Morgan Plus Six…


        Turbocharging the six in this way predictably means its voice as the revs rise is rather one-dimensional, and as for the claimed – and I quote – ‘particularly rich and thrilling’ M Sport exhaust system, that seems an exaggeration. Moreover, while there’s a certain addictiveness to the B58’s torque hit, its brusque delivery immediately puts the driver and chassis under pressure. This inevitably means that xDrive is essential, particularly in the broader mainstream market in which this car makes hay, because it would otherwise be a real handful in certain situations, much like an outgoing M3. This all adds the kilos, of course, not just the 4WD system but in all aspects of the car’s engineering, and there’s a very real sense that you could lose 25 per cent of the power, a chunk of the weight, and have a car that was 50 per cent more rewarding to drive…

        In truth, the xDrive set-up, with its electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, works well. It has the ability to make the 340i extremely sure-footed one moment, but then with the DSC system switched off will still allow the car to be driven on the throttle, aided by the M Sport rear diff. It needs care though, because the ferocity of the engine’s delivery and inevitable character of a force-fed throttle response mean you have to be right on your game if it does lose traction at the rear axle, and the way drive to the front tyres snaps the car back in line means that lock must then be removed smartish.

        It doesn’t help that the 340i’s steering is perhaps its worst feature, and another example of BMW lagging behind in the development of electrically assisted steering. The M Sport rim is awkwardly thick and squidgy, masking feedback that isn’t there anyway, but it’s the synthetic vagueness around the straight-ahead and forceful, artificial self-centring that really mar the overall picture. It’s such a poor representation of a connection between the driver and the front wheels.
        All of which makes the 340i a tricky car to garner genuine reward from. There’s little uniformity between the weights and actions of the primary controls, and with eight gears and small, unsatisfying paddles (the gear selector can also be used to change ratio but it feels a bit superfluous) it’s often best just to leave the capable Steptronic ’box to get on with it.
        How the ’box reacts, and indeed how the whole car behaves, is governed by the ubiquitous driving modes. There’s Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and then Individual, plus Adaptive, where the car is supposed to know via GPS and other parameters what the set-up should be. But really the one thing you need to know, to cut through all this button-twiddling nonsense that even BMW’s own research has shown almost no owner ever actually does, is that in anything other than their Comfort setting the dampers are unpleasantly unyielding. The other settings don’t make the car better to drive, they just feel like an ill-judged attempt to present an overtly ‘sporty’ experience to those uninterested in such things anyway. Crucially, even in Comfort there’s an underlying abruptness to the rebound damping that makes what would otherwise be a devastatingly good mile-cruncher not as relaxing as it could be (our test car is on the optional 19-inch wheels with the Adaptive M suspension package).

        That’s a pity, because while the 340i’s very black interior is hardly inspiring, it’s nicely screwed together and, in the front half of the passenger compartment at least, spacious. But there’s less individuality to the interior design than there once was, and as for the all-digital instruments, it’s almost impossible now to get a reading on either speed or revs from the dials in your peripheral vision. Clear instrumentation was once a cornerstone of BMW interiors, but not here, and that’s not me being a luddite, it’s simply a matter of ergonomics and HMI (human-machine interfaces). It might be clever to have fancy graphics, but if as a driver you can’t see them as clearly or quickly, then there’s a problem. Why go in this direction?

        And that’s the point really. The M340i is massively fast, and bulging with tech, but It’s as if the driving part no longer really matters. It’s not a patch on an Alfa Giulia Veloce. Instead it’s a car that lacks confidence, a sense of identity and purpose, as if BMW has accepted that soon we might not be driving cars at all, merely passengering in them, and so has decided that’s the best element to relegate to the workshop floor. But for us it’s the part that matters most of all, and that’s why the M340i xDrive, setting aside the accepted conventions around the marque, is a very disappointing BMW.
      1. nbrigdan's Avatar
        nbrigdan -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Alpina_B3_Lux Click here to enlarge
        I mentioned the X3M test a few weeks ago. Here is also the test of the M340i xDrive that echoes a lot of the things criticised in the X3M, notably bad steering and badly judged suspension components. Fast yes, but nothing else making the formerly driver-oriented cars one-dimensional acceleration vehicles.
        I would much rather have the Alpina versions that are coming out, too bad they aren't available here (as far as I can tell we only get the B7). They look gorgeous, and are supposed to strike the balance between ride and handling much better.

        https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/m...oon-form-tokyo

        The only downside is that I configured one and it was 63,000 GBP...before VAT.
      1. subaru335i's Avatar
        subaru335i -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        This is somewhat amusing to me as a I had an X3. The original. The ride back then? Awful. I mean awful.

        It handled surprisingly great and was fun to drive. Essentially an E46 330i on stilts.

        How is it when I drive a Macan S it's as comfortable as my 911 if not more so but the X3 still rides like crap in 2020?
        We still have an old first gen X3 and I don't think it rides uncomfortably at all. It for sure handles like a car compared to other 2006 SUV's but I wouldn't say its too stiff or uncomfortable.

        Ours has been super reliable too I can't bring myself to get rid of it. Its not worth anything and slower than dog $#@! but still drives like new and is super practical for hauling the dogs.
      1. Sticky2's Avatar
        Sticky2 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by subaru335i Click here to enlarge
        We still have an old first gen X3 and I don't think it rides uncomfortably at all. It for sure handles like a car compared to other 2006 SUV's but I wouldn't say its too stiff or uncomfortable.

        Ours has been super reliable too I can't bring myself to get rid of it. Its not worth anything and slower than dog $#@! but still drives like new and is super practical for hauling the dogs.
        I'm guessing it doesn't have the sport package?
      1. subaru335i's Avatar
        subaru335i -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky2 Click here to enlarge
        I'm guessing it doesn't have the sport package?
        Nope, standard 3.0i.