When I first drove the BMW X3 M Competition, the first car that came to mind was the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Like the Alfa, the new X3 M has a sense of fun and excitement about it that seems like it shouldn’t exist in an SUV. It isn’t quite as intoxicating as the Alfa, or as manic, but it’s closer than any other SUV I’ve driven since. Both cars are extremely similar on paper, too; both have similar engines, both are similarly quick and both are similarly priced. So they couldn’t be more direct competitors. But, the real question is: which one is better?
In this new comparison test from Driving.ca, we get to find out which they think is best. It’s an interesting test because, on paper, they’re so similar but they actually start to differ once you really get to driving them. First, though, let’s look at the specs.
Powering the BMW X3 M is a twin-turbocharged inline-six engine with 503 hp (510 PS) and 442 lb-ft of torque. The Alfa gets a twin-turbocharged V6 and 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Both cars also use eight-speed automatics from ZF and are both rear-wheel drive based, all-wheel drive SUVs. While the BMW X3 M takes 4.0 seconds flat to hit 60 mph, the Alfa does it in 3.8 seconds. See what I mean about them being similar?
However, getting them on the road shows off their differences. They’re both pretty psychotic cars, to be honest, as they both feel like their straining at the leash. However, the Alfa is even more so. Plus, the Alfa is the more enjoyable car to drive, even if just by a bit. Its steering a bit sharper, its chassis a bit more playful and it makes a better noise. The BMW X3 M isn’t too far off but there’s a noticeable difference in excitement between the two.
That does make the X3 M a bit more enjoyable to drive around town, though. Both cars are rattle-your-teeth stiff but the X3 M, in Comfort mode, is tolerable. While the Alfa is brutal in any setting. The BMW X3 M is also packed with much better tech, as a better interior and more practicality.
In the end, it’s the BMW X3 M that’s deemed the better everyday car and probably the better car overall. But if either Driving editor had to choose just one to drive, it’d be the Alfa.