The refreshed 2022 X3M Competition can be summed up in the most surprising word imaginable for a small crossover – hilarious. In a sea of bland sameness, the X3M Comp compels with a driving experience that feels engaging and even (gasp) fun in a segment that doesn’t seem to know the definition of the word. It would sound cliche if it wasn’t for the fact that this is a crossover, but once again the M Brand has proven it knows how to create some of the most engaging vehicles on the planet – no matter their shape.

At its core this is a rear wheel drive vehicle despite being on paper, all wheel drive. The AWD system doesn’t disconnect it’s front drivetrain like the M3 and M5 but it is heavily rear biased and comes standard with a mechanical limited slip. The result is that the X3M behaves like a rear wheel drive sport sedan… albeit a heavy one.

Adding to the immediacy is the quick the steering ratio making it feel alive even at moderate speeds. This thing has fun which is a rarity in the world of crossovers – even performance ones. 

How does it compare to an M3? It’s heavier and slower even with spring of 3.7 seconds to 60 mph. However in leu of a real M3 wagon (which the US won’t get) this is the ultimate everyday M vehicle for those who haul stuff and haul ass. 

At the center of both the M3 Comp and the X3M Comp is the nightly S58 inline six. Producing 503 hp and 479 lb-ft in Competition spec, it’s that rare turbocharged engine that feels both elastic in its power delivery while incredibly quick to rev. This updated version of the S58 powered has 3D printed cylinder head and forged crankshaft that unlocks an increase 13 hp and 37 ft lbs of torque over the standard X3M. 

The BMW X3M Competition vs the Porsche Macan GTS

Comparing it to a Porsche Macans things get interesting. Having drive a few Macans recently it’s clear the Porsche is the more honed car. It feels buttoned down in a way that the X3M never achieves. However much like comparing the M2 to the Porsche GT4, the X3M feels more raw and happily imperfect. Which in contrast to the Porsche is quite endearing. It’s also $12,000 cheaper at $69,900 for the standard X3M.

What seats the X3M apart from almost every other fast crossover on the market is that the driver is still at the center of the experience. From the track oriented engine to the weight of the controls and the feedback they provide, the experience is as focused as you’d want out of a four door family car on stilts. In space where there’s plenty of talk of autonomy and electrification, the X3M continues the grand BMW tradition of creating a driving experience focused on the joy of driving. And more than any other crossover from the brand yet, they’ve nailed it.

In our brief time with the X3M on the canyon roads around Thermal California we were blown away by not just the mix of performance and utility but the genuine driving enjoyment this vehicle delivers. With its combination of size, utility and agility the X3M Competition hits a sweet spot that we weren’t sure existed.