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      04-12-2020, 11:54 PM   #1
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X3M, for when you simply must have it all. New owner first impressions

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As many of you know I've been oogling the X3M for a very long time and waiting for the hourglass on my SQ5 lease to come up. That time has arrived and while saying goodbye to the Audi is actually a little bittersweet, the new era of X3M is delivering the car I've wanted for the last 7 years. I've had both gens of SQ5 because BMW took such an agonizing long time to bring this M car to market and also recently revisted a second ownership of E9x M3 for a while, trying to fit square pegs into the triangular hole that is my "perfect" car. Perfect for me is RWD biased AWD with the right diffs, lots of power and sharp response to my inputs, utility for recreational road trips, hauling dog, bikes, going skiing, light off road, and a vehicle that to me is a pinnacle in it's series and class. Our M340i xDrive is close in a number of these areas (goddamn is it fast), but misses that extra magic that would make it a true M car.

We all heard the rumors about X3M for years and as of last year FINALLY BMW makes an M car with AWD that is <$100k! I recently test drove an X3M base and a comp and decided the comp was the one for me. I watched the dealer lots for months and haggled for at least a month, eventually settling on my build after realizing my time was running out and placing an order for a car was going to significantly impact discount off MSRP as well as 2021s may not be available until June or later. So here it is, my X3M Competition in dark graphite over black!



Woooo-eee what a color. Gonna be a pain in the ass to maintain but damn it looks amazing. I was set on Donington and "settled" for dark graphite but at least for the time being absolutely no regrets. I picked it up down in Portland, drove the 200 miles back home and today went out for a 200 something mile romp over the mountains.

I only have just shy of 500 miles on the clock but I've already driven a 3 hour fall asleep boring interstate drive, city streets and alleys with broken pavement and potholes, an absolute blitzkrieg over the pass on winter worn interstate, and through country backroads with high and low speed corners, and dips and dives that can be crazy fun or can chuck you right off the road. I'm having a really hard time finding something this rig can't do.

Power: It's very very good. We all have different experiences and metrics for power but I'll put it this way... I've driven Model 3 Performance and considered Model Y Performance but I'm glad I didn't get the Tesla. The S58 power is excellent to me in this package. The new M3, well, we all know it's going to be insane.

Throttle, transmission: For just putt putting around, I'm surprised at how responsive it is. Yes there is boost threshold lag until about 3k RPMs but it will still move for basic around town driving even in efficient throttle and D1. If you want to ask it for any of the real available power though you've got to go to sport or sport+ throttle and D2 or manual shifting. I'm not yet sure where I would use D3. For really sporty driving keep the revs around 4k and you will be rewarded with instant power from the throttle. The transmission is quick and satisfying but this is no DCT, particularly on downshifts which are fine, but not cracking blips. No complaints from it though as I would happily trade off daily usability for slightly slower downshifts. I don't miss DCTs and their clunky issues.

Suspension: Have you owned or lived with an M3 before? What did you think of that? The X3M Comp suspension is so far exactly what I was hoping for and with many properties of an M car but with significant added comfort. It is firm and not cushy but it is by no means harsh or crashy. To me, M3s are crashy at times, banging off road hazards and the X3M doesn't do that. You get suspension travel that rebounds quickly and firmly but is well damped at all times. It is slightly busy compared to average cars but very liveable and allows for truly amazing handling. Also the range from comfort to sport+ is very real. In comfort, take a high speed sweeper and you'll feel a little subtle squishiness. Click it into sport or sport+ while in that sweeper and it will immediately hunker down further with each step up in stiffness. All three suspension modes have a purpose and are useful. I've been spending time in each mode with sport being the favorite so far but I will be using all of them on the street depending on the driving conditions.

Handling: People have been saying it for a while now and it's true, this thing corners flat, particularly in sport and sport+ suspension. You shouldn't be able to change direction in a heavy, tall car like this, but it grips and goes. In MDM with M-xDrive you can feel the diff keeping the power to the outside and rotating the chassis. Yes you also feel some of the weight but it really is a marvel in the corners. Once I learn the 8 out of 10 limits a little better, I am sure I won't desire a sports coupe for a long time.

Steering: What can I say, it's not hydraulic, but it's good enough. I don't mind the steering and it's something that kind of fades to the background a bit in the twisties but I do notice it's a tad busy on the interstate. I can't tell if the Continental tires are tramlining, or there is wind, or if the whole car just likes to grab wind and occasionally give a subtle pull left or right, but you have to be paying attention on the interstate. It's not bad, and the car is steady as a tank but small steering inputs were common. On the twisties I never felt this was a thing. I'm changing to PS4S this week so will see if that changes the freeway feel.

Interior/Exterior: The in and out looks are great. I won't belabor more text but in person I really dig the subtle under the radar look of this M car. If you want to be flashy, certainly pick a brighter color but don't expect the X3M to be anything other than a shiny expensive looking BMW to most people. Interior comfort to me is fantastic. I love these seats and haven't had any back pain so far which I haven't said in a long time. The lower seat cushion bolsters are slim and I fit in them, just barely, but could see larger individuals having a real problem with that. A+ for the seats IMO.

So there you go, that's enough. If you made it this far, congrats I'll buy you an ice cream some time. Hope you enjoyed another perspective and to sum it up I am so far incredibly happy with this purchase. Thank you BMW for finally getting your shit together and giving us an X3M.

Some more pics from my drive today:







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      04-13-2020, 01:30 AM   #2
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Congratulations cracking colour combo looks great and really good write up enjoyed the read and I agree well done BMW look forward to hearing your impressions when you get the PS4S fitted.
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      04-13-2020, 03:31 AM   #3
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Hey great write up and I am happy you finally got the car! Love the colour combo. Enjoy it because it will deliver what you expected. Yeah let me know what you think of PS over conti because I have tried both and tbh I think they are both great tyres maybe the PS wears a little better but time will tell.
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      04-13-2020, 04:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transfer View Post
As many of you know I've been oogling the X3M for a very long time... and to sum it up I am so far incredibly happy with this purchase.
Excellent review and images, Transfer - congratulations!
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      04-13-2020, 05:00 AM   #5
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congrats and welcome to the family
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      04-13-2020, 07:57 AM   #6
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Congrats! I thought about this color as well, but landed on DG. Looks great though, enjoy the new ride.
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      04-13-2020, 08:00 AM   #7
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Congrats!
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      04-13-2020, 08:26 AM   #8
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Congrats, Transfer! D3 is great for specific highway situations. For example, if an AMG blows by, it allows you to react quickly
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      04-13-2020, 09:29 AM   #9
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Welcome and Congrats!!!
Nice write up too.
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      04-13-2020, 12:27 PM   #10
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Glad you to hear you too finally found your car that does it all. Great writeup and welcome to the club!
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      04-13-2020, 12:50 PM   #11
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Love it that was the color I special ordered when I got mine. Excellent choice

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      04-13-2020, 01:57 PM   #12
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Thanks all!

I drove it to work (hospital) this morning for the first time and oh man it was great. I live in the mountain foothills but drive 18 miles to work downtown where roads are complete garbage. I gave D1 and efficient throttle a chance for the first 10 miles and I've gotta say it wasn't bad at all for regular driving around. I also had to jump out of an exit lane from a stop (in S3 1st gear) and the car took off like a rocket, maybe 1 sec hesitation. Suspension in comfort is a beautiful dance of responsiveness and yet I don't feel jarred. It's like it's up on it's toes but can sink into bumps as well. I opted to skip the exec pack with fancy parking cameras and parking in my semi tight work garage was not an issue at all. It is surprisingly maneuverable and the sensor work great.

Next up is PS4S install tomorrow then need to install a stealth hitch sometime in the next month. Front window tint will happen as well when I get around to coordinating that although not sure it can happen with COVID lock downs. I also gotta keep working on burning that first 1200 miles!
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      04-13-2020, 02:53 PM   #13
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Congrats on the car. Looks great. Any tips on how you negotiated during this pandemic to get the deal you wanted?
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      04-13-2020, 03:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thedreamingtree View Post
Congrats on the car. Looks great. Any tips on how you negotiated during this pandemic to get the deal you wanted?
I had hoped that there might be more discount but from my regional dealings things were no different. I settled on a deal that I would have anticipated to get a month or two ago, which was reasonable to me. Unfortunately it sounds like the cars on the lots now are going to be the available stock for awhile. 2021 are not arriving to US dealers until about June and will be very limited. Per my generally honest and informed CA, 80% of X3M production will go outside the US when Spartanburg is back up and running. So at least in my region, there was no easy free money and I negotiated via email and text.
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      04-13-2020, 03:24 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transfer View Post
So at least in my region, there was no easy free money and I negotiated via email and text.
*this* - Transfer and I are in the same region. When I negotiated my deal with BMW of Seattle they prefaced any negotiations with "There are no heavy discounts as a result of COVID. Everyone keeps asking for them across all Models, but they're just not there." To be fair this was earlier in the timeline of the crisis (early March) but from what I understand (also from a trusted CA) things have not changed (even with sales going online completely now).
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      04-13-2020, 09:14 PM   #16
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Congrats and Enjoy in Good Health!! We are doing the same thing... going from Audi to BMW. We ordered a Donnington Comp and going into it from a Q7 S-Line for the wifey. I personally have 2 Audi B5 Twin Turbo S4 Avants, M2 Comp, and my 993. It値l be bittersweet to move over for her...but Im sure she値l forget about it once she smashes on that Pedal...
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      04-13-2020, 09:17 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilEmpirE View Post
Congrats and Enjoy in Good Health!! We are doing the same thing... going from Audi to BMW. We ordered a Donnington Comp and going into it from a Q7 S-Line for the wifey. I personally have 2 Audi B5 Twin Turbo S4 Avants, M2 Comp, and my 993. It値l be bittersweet to move over for her...but Im sure she値l forget about it once she smashes on that Pedal...
And if she's still unimpressed, tune it!

Last edited by MrItaly; 04-13-2020 at 10:27 PM..
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      04-13-2020, 09:28 PM   #18
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And if she's still. It impressed, tune it!
Haha......Big Facts. But I知 sure she値l be impressed and forget all about her Q. She痴 been driving my M2 Comp here and there....which is what led her to want more Power and Sportier handling!!
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      04-13-2020, 10:11 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilEmpirE View Post
Haha......Big Facts. But I知 sure she値l be impressed and forget all about her Q. She痴 been driving my M2 Comp here and there....which is what led her to want more Power and Sportier handling!!
All the more reason to tune. Won't affect handling, but it will unleash the potential of the S58. Even though, I still believe that current conservative available tunes have yet to fully appreciate the potential that BMW has bestowed upon us with this power plant.(this coming from a guy running BM3 Stage 2 high flow primary cat tune)

Last edited by MrItaly; 04-13-2020 at 10:51 PM..
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      04-13-2020, 10:20 PM   #20
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All the more reason to tune. Won't resolve handling, but it will unleash the potential of the S58. Even though, I still believe that current conservative available tunes have yet to fully appreciate the potential that BMW has bestowed upon us.
yes, I think 700 hp are easily possible even with simple pump gas.
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      04-13-2020, 10:42 PM   #21
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yes, I think 700 hp are easily possible even with simple pump gas.
Completely agree.....
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      04-13-2020, 10:49 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrItaly View Post
Completely agree.....
Stage 2 bm3 tune is already ~675 bhp and it痴 still a rather conservative map.
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