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BMW Unveils the First Ever X3 & X4 M Models, Both Will Be Built in the U.S.

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【Summary】With all of the talk surrounding electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids lately, BMW is getting back to its performance and racing heritage with two new M series models. The automaker announced today all-new M versions of the popular X3 and X4 models.

FutureCar Staff    Feb 12, 2019 6:08 PM PT
BMW Unveils the First Ever X3 & X4 M Models, Both Will Be Built in the U.S.

With all of the talk surrounding electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids lately, BMW is getting back to its performance and racing heritage with two new M series models. The automaker announced today all-new M versions of the popular X3 and X4 models. The X3 SUV and X4 Sports Activity Coupe will become the latest high performance vehicles models joining the BMW's storied M line-up.

Both vehicles will come with a high-revving, 473 hp S58 3.0 liter 6-cylinder M TwinPower Turbo engine as standard equipment, with an available 503 hp Competition option.

The new M models will be built at BMW's sprawling Spartanburg, South Carolina assembly plant, where all of BMW's current X models are built. The Spartanburg plant is the largest BMW production plant in the world, employing 11,000 people. Nearly 70 percent of all vehicles built at the Spartanburg plant are exported to overseas markets, making BMW the highest exporter of vehicles from the U.S. by value.  

BMW's High Performance M Engine

The X3 and X4 M feature a powerplant with a forged crankshaft to handle extremely high levels of torque. The forged crankshaft's low weight and reduced rotating mass also allow the engine to rev to a 7,200 rpm redline. The cylinder head has a core manufactured using 3D printing. This manufacturing process enables geometric forms to be created that cannot be done using conventional metal casting techniques.

3D printing technology has cut the weight of the new engine's cylinder head core and allows its coolant ducts to be routed in a way that optimizes thermal management.

BMW's M TwinPower Turbo technology features two mono-scroll turbochargers, which supply compressed air to cylinders 1 – 3 and 4 – 6 respectively. A flow-optimized air intake system reduces pressure losses, while an electronically controlled wastegate enhances turbo response.

BMW engineers raised maximum fuel injection pressure from 200 bar to 350 bar, enabling extremely efficient mixing of fuel and air. The higher pressures produce a finer atomization of the fuel in the combustion chambers, which also reduces emissions. The engine technology is further enhanced by fully variable valve timing and BMW's Double-VANOS variable camshaft timing.

The standard six-cylinder in-line engine produces its peak torque of 442 lb.-ft. between 2,600 and 5,600 rpm for better performance overall. The BMW X3 M and BMW X4 M accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, while the Competition version hits 60 mph in 4 seconds.

Mated to the engine is BMW's latest version of the eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic. The M Steptronic also enables manual shifts with sequential gear selection via either the gear selector lever or steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.

Drivers can use the three-position Drivelogic switch to adjust the transmission's shift characteristics in both automatic and manual modes. Selecting Drivelogic mode 1 results in smooth gear changes, while switching to mode 2 increases the sport factor by shortening shift times.

The third mode makes gear changes even faster and sharper—fitting for the M series models. In this mode the transmission holds the engine in its upper rev range before the next shift, helping the driver to push the dynamic envelope and maximize power output.

‘Rear Wheel Bias' All-Wheel-Drive

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BMW's new M xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system blends the traction-related benefits of sending power to all four wheels with the proven dynamic qualities of classic rear-wheel drive setup. It is available as an option on the 2020 X3 and X4 M.

The electronically controlled M xDrive, which work together with the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system, only sends power to the front wheels when the rear wheels reach the limits of their traction. Drivers can adjust the distribution of power between the front and rear wheels at the touch of a button.

Torque is distributed between the front and rear wheels seamlessly by means of the transfer case's electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, before the Active M Differential varies the rear lockup. This ensures enhanced traction, agility and directional stability, especially when the car is being driven aggressively or on road surfaces with differing levels of traction. This limits interventions by the DSC system that limit performance, activating it only in extreme situations.

The DSC system takes a fraction of a second to make corrective brake inputs at each individual wheel, while simultaneously adjusting drive torque to stabilize the car.

Three Radiators for Improved Cooling

BMW's new six-cylinder inline engine's cooling system has been designed to work with increased levels of performance. The cooling is provided by having one large central radiator with two smaller radiators positioned on either side of it. The system also includes an additional engine oil cooler as well as a separate transmission oil cooler. The system ensures that optimum operating temperatures are maintained at all times.

Dual Exhaust System With Electrically Controlled Flaps

The roar from the engine is a distinct feature of the M lineup, and BMW made sure the X3 and X4 deliver the same type of signature exhaust notes as the M3 and M5 sedans. The exhaust system was designed to reduced back pressure, while the dual-branch pipework releases the exhaust gas through four 100 millimeter tailpipes. BMW adds electrically controlled flaps help to produce the rich engine note for which BMW M cars are known for.

Additional features include a model-specific chassis designed to match the engine's high power and to the capabilities of the M xDrive all-wheel-drive system. This gives both the BMW X3 M and BMW X4 M and their Competition version exceptional handling associated with the M line.

The setup includes a double-joint spring strut front suspension and five-link rear suspension with model-specific bushings that help to deliver precise wheel location and directional stability. the front suspension is fitted with custom-made swivel bearings, torque arms and wishbones. BMW also engineered specially designed bearings to channel the forces from the control arms to the suspension subframe and the vehicle body.

Both the X3 M and X4 M will debut at the Geneva Auto Show next month. Production is set to begin in April. The models are expected to go on sale this summer with prices starting around $70,000.


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