Lots of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) these days are fast, but not many of them offer the same performance figures that can go head to head with a full-fledged supercar. One of them, however, is the BMW X3 M Competition, which has just gone on sale in Singapore.

For S$457,888, inclusive of certificate of entitlement (COE), you get a relatively unassuming mid-sized luxury SUV that packs a whole lot of punch under its skin. The X3 M Competition is powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six petrol engine that develops 510 horsepower and 600Nm of torque, so it can rocket from 0-100km/h in just 4.1 seconds.

To put that in perspective, that’s about the same sort of figures that an Aston Martin DB11 V8 puts out. The difference is, of course, the Aston is a low-slung supercar designed primarily to go fast, while the BMW is an SUV that can double up as the family wagon on the weekends.

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That’s in theory, anyway. In reality, your kids will most likely have their milk teeth knocked out prematurely if you use the X3 M Competition to ferry them around regularly, especially if you encounter roads that are pockmarked by construction.

The ride quality is rather firm at the best of times, but hitting any sort of bump, even with the adaptive suspension set to the softest Comfort setting, sends the X3 M Competition into a hyperactive frenzy. “Jarring” and “uncomfortable” are the words that spring to mind, although they don’t so much spring as bounce around inside your skull. Naturally, it gets even worse when you set the car to Sport or Sport Plus modes.

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In return, however, you get something that is actually rather sports car-like to drive if you push it hard. The vicious acceleration is capable of taking your breath away (in a good way, unlike Covid-19), and the X3 M Competition more than holds its own when shown a set of corners, with sharp and precise steering and well-controlled body roll that makes you forget that you’re driving a tall SUV that can seat five.

Think of the X3 M Competition not as an SUV that can go fast, but rather a supercar that happens to have an SUV body-style, and you get the idea of what this car is about. It costs significantly less than supercars with equivalent performance, and your friends can even come along for the ride. They’ll just have to put up with some discomfort.

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BMW X3 M Competition

Engine 2,993cc, inline 6, turbocharged
Power 510hp at 6250rpm
Torque 600Nm at 2600-5950rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h 4.1 seconds
Top Speed 250km/h
Fuel Efficiency 10.6L/100km
Agent Performance Munich Automobiles
Price S$457,888 with COE
Available Now

This article was originally published in The Business Times