On paper, this shouldn’t be much of a challenge. BMW says its M-kissed version of the X3 reaches 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. Meanwhile, the M8 Competition does the sprint approximately one second quicker, thanks to a 617-horsepower (460-kilowatt) 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8. The X3 only offers 473 hp (353 kW) from its smaller twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six, but we’ve seen enough drag race videos to know statistics don’t always translate to real-world performance. There’s another X-factor at work here, and yes, pun is intended with that reference.
The X3 M featured in this recent DragTimes video isn’t stock. Specific power output isn’t known, but a rough estimate places the SUV somewhere in the neighborhood of 550 hp (410 kW). As such, both cars did a test pass at the drag strip (Palm Beach Raceway) to test grip and the results were shocking. The completely stock M8 ran 10.95 in the quarter-mile with a trap speed of 126.7 mph – seriously quick for any vehicle, never mind a big GT car. However, the tweaked X3 M was just two tenths slower at 10.97, with a trap speed of 123.2 mph. That’s pretty much a dead heat, which suddenly makes this contest very interesting.
Three side-by-side runs followed the test passes, but just as statistics on a page don’t always translate to real life, weather conditions can affect performance throughout a day at the track. According to the video, temperatures dropped quite a bit as the evening wore on. That can help an engine make more power, but tires don’t like the cold. Traction became an issue, and times for both vehicles fell off dramatically. The first pass saw the M8 turn an 11.21 compared to an 11.60 for the X3 M, with the SUV running a slower 119.8 mph trap speed as well.
Sadly, the final two runs saw the M8 jump the gun with red lights, so we never got a fair side-by-side run after the first trip. However, the initial test runs with each vehicle taking the time to brake boost and launch hard were eye-opening. The X3 M was impressive, but honestly, anything can be made faster with a tune. The M8 Competition in completely stock trim made a 10-second pass, which is downright epic for large, luxurious GT machine.