Munich - As promised, BMW has unleashed the first proper M versions of its mid-sized X3 and X4 crossovers and to mark the occasion, the performance division has gifted them its most powerful six-cylinder engine ever.

Let’s get straight to the juicy bits then.

In standard guise the X3 M and X4 M thump out 353kW at 6250rpm and 600Nm between 2600 and 5600rpm. But opt for the Competition models and you get 375kW at the same revs and an identical torque output as the standard model, albeit with a flatter torque curve that stretches to 5950rpm.

Performance is practically in supercar territory, with the normal version sprinting from 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds, according to claims, and the Competition doing its thing in 4.1 seconds. Top speeds are the usual 250km/h deal, but they can be optionally lifted to 280km/h and 285km/h respectively. The Competition models also get a more vocal M Sport exhaust system.

Transmission follows in the footsteps of the latest M5, with power going to all four wheels through an eight-speed M Steptronic torque converter automatic gearbox and M xDrive all-wheel-drive system with Active M Differential, the system having a rear-axle bias and offering two driving modes. Unlike the M5, however, there is no rear-wheel-drive mode for drifting, which is probably a good thing considering that this is a crossover.

The pair come with all the M specific chassis tuning that you would expect, and adaptive dampers are standard too, while the package also includes M Servotronic variable-ratio steering and M compound brakes.

The engine, transmission, suspension, traction control and steering characteristics are all easily adjusted at the touch of a button and the driver can store two individual set-up options for easy access at a later stage.

Cabin furniture includes sports seats with integrated headrests as well as an M specific steering wheel and gear knob.

M Styling applies to the exterior too, and standard models are fitted with 20-inch alloy wheels, while Competition versions are further distinguished by high-gloss black treatment for the grille, mirror caps and gills, and polished black treatment for the wheels, which are upsized to 21-inches.

The X3 M and X4 M are expected to reach South African shores during the third-quarter of 2019, with pricing to be confirmed nearer to launch.

IOL Motoring