High-Performance M Versions of BMW X3, X4 SUVs Break Cover

BMW X3 M and X4 M prototype

High-performance versions of the redesigned BMW X3 and X4 made their debut this weekend, but only as camouflaged prototypes. At a race weekend in Germany, BMW brought early versions — "camouflaged pre-series vehicles" — of its forthcoming X3 M and X4 M to test 'round the famed Nurburgring's South Loop.

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Given BMW issued a press release with more than two-dozen photos, we're not surprised the automaker left styling more or less uncovered, with all of some squiggly line exterior graphics as camouflage. Barring significant revisions, the M visual treatment for both SUVs amounts to a trio of front-bumper openings that sit a bit lower than those on the sportiest current versions of the X3 and X4 — each SUV's M40i variant — with a frowning center opening versus the M40i's smiling inlet. In back, the X3 M and X4 M get quad tailpipes (versus two on the M40i variants) and, on the X3 M, a more prominent liftgate spoiler.

Like many automakers, BMW fine-tunes the development of its performance cars on the Nurburgring. The automaker said the prototypes were in an "early stage of their development phase" but will have high-revving turbocharged six-cylinder engines. That's what goes into the M40i variants of the current X3 and X4, which each pack a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six good for 355 horsepower. BMW promises a "newly developed" take on the formula, so it's a safe bet that power ends up around — or maybe even a little north of — the outputs from the current M3 sedan and M4 coupe. Both models have turbo six-cylinder engines with 425 hp apiece.

BMW X3 M prototype; Manufacturer images

BMW says to expect the same all-wheel-drive technology as it throws in the new M5 sedan, whose AWD offers a rear-drive mode to maximize sideways drifting. An active M rear differential lifts dynamics and precision in the X3 M and X4 M to "a level unrivaled within the competitive environment," BMW claims.

That competitive set includes the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 and Porsche Macan Turbo, both $70,000-plus performance SUVs that can hit 60 mph around the 4-second mark. BMW has yet to enter the field with full-fledged M versions of the X3 and X4, as both have heretofore maxed out at the M-lite M40i level. A BMW spokesman confirmed both cars "are definitely intended for" U.S. showrooms but declined to elaborate on timing or other details. Stay tuned for more updates.

BMW X4 M prototype; Manufacturer images

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