2022 Porsche Macan GTS Vs 2022 BMW X3 M Comparison

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

We went literal for our latest green comparison.

In the battle of the 2022 Porsche Macan GTS vs 2022 BMW X3 M, neither car is a fuel-sipper. There’s 937 horsepower between them. Miles per gallon? Pfft, we’re focusing on smiles per gallon here.

These are the sorts of vehicles we’re not supposed to like. Crossovers can never be sports cars, some will say. And these aren’t—but they sure get close. Not just in how they surge from A to B, but in how they can deconstruct a road in a way that pastes a grin onto your face. The Macan and X3 are overachieving all-rounders. If the question is what vehicle can do it all, well, here are two credible answers.

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As managing editor Mike Schlee and I learned over a week with both of these mean green machines, how they address the question is quite different.

Interior and Cargo Space

Macan: Porsche treated the Macan to its second facelift at the beginning of this year. The tweaks were subtle outside, and not much has changed in the cabin, either. The dashboard design is the same as before, a clean if somewhat blocky look. There are big inlays of carbon fiber, befitting the GTS’ current position as the range-topper. Most of the important 2022 changes happen at the girthy center console, where last year’s twin rows of buttons are now all touch-sensitive controls. Naturally, we see this as a step backwards, not only from a muscle memory perspective, but because of the likelihood of fingerprints and smudges. At least it’s touch-capacitive. The Macan doesn’t have the whiz-bang fully digital instrument panel of the X3, but we appreciate the central tachometer and clever integration of the right-side info screen all the same.

What the layout lacks in creativity it makes up for in high-quality solidity. The Macan’s materials are uniformly excellent, from the Alcantara headliner to the mixed-material seats, which are better-bolstered than lesser models, but still comfy enough for everyday use. This tester comes equipped with the optional GTS package too, which adds a dash of Python Green to the interior. The contrast stitching, the embroidered headrests, and the seatbelts come in the exterior-matching hue. Porsche’s GT steering wheel continues to earn our praises as well: the right size, the right shape, and wrapped in oh-so-soft Alcantara, it’s a joy to use.

The Macan is noticeably more compact than the X3 M when parked beside it. That naturally translates to a tighter cabin, though it’s mostly the rear-seat passengers who it affects. Both of us are at the upper limit of height for back-seat comfort, and the Macan’s legroom is merely adequate back there. Porsche’s designers have carved out the middle perch to alleviate the pinch, but there’s still a chunky transmission tunnel to contend with.

It’s a similar story in the cargo hold. The Macan’s design splits the difference between the upright X3 and its coupe-over cousin the X4. The rakish roofline makes for a smallish 17.2 cubic feet (487 liters). Drop the 60/40-folding rear row and that does expand to a useful 53 cubes (1,501 L).

X3: The X3’s interior design is a little techier, a little edgier than the traditionalist Macan’s. That being said, if you’ve been in any ICE Bimmer model in the last few years, it should feel plenty familiar. Material quality is typical Bavarian goodness too, with soft-touch plastics and buttery leather all over. The two-tone treatment and extra glass height gives the X3 an airier, more spacious feel to its cabin over the more intimate Macan, as well. BMW has grouped the important controls right within reach on the dashboard, so other than the odd shifter movements (more on that later) it’s easy to get in and get comfortable.

There’s no hiding it: the X3 does feel distinctly more SUV than the low-slung Macan. The seats never come down quite as low as we’d like, nor are they as comfortable and supportive as the thrones in the Porsche. The X3 counters with better sightlines, on account of its boxier profile.

That same Huey Lewis-approved shape makes the X3 much more accommodating for others, too. The back seat has noticeably more headroom and legroom than the Macan (36.4 inches / 925 millimeters, to be exact). Larger rear quarter windows only enhance the feeling of space.

The X3 will also swallow more stuff. There’s 28.7 cubic feet (813 L) of space out back, with a low, flat load floor. Drop the seats and the BMW’s lead drops with it, but 62.7 cubes (1,775 L) is still more.

Bottom Line: The Macan’s driving position is chef’s kiss perfection, with excellent seats and a Goldilocks steering wheel. There’s more of a sports car vibe from the Macan, right down to the tight rear seat. On the flip side, the X3 is easier to see out of, and it has more space for the rest of the crew. Since these are SUVs we’re talking about here, the X3 gets the nod for more closely following the assignment.

2022 Porsche Macan GTS vs 2022 BMW X3 M: Tech and Features

Macan: Porsche fed the Macan an infotainment update this year. The screen size hasn’t changed at 10.9 inches, but the software has, making for quicker response times. The gray-tile layout won’t win any style awards, but it is easy to navigate, and keeps users from diving into too many sub-menus. Wireless Apple CarPlay works without issue, and helpfully, it’s easy to swap in and out of the native setup. Porsche allows folks to customize the home screen with their most-used widgets, as well.

Beyond that, however, the Macan does feel a little old-school next to the X3 M. The small info screen to the right of the tach is easily operated, but lacks granular info, and the navigation screen is dated. The Bose sound system does a good job pumping out the tunes, but no more. Both rows of seats come heated here, though the rears are an extra-cost option. So is ventilation up front, which this tester does without.

The bright green Macan does come with a solid suite of driver assists—also costing extra. Adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, and lane keep assist all work naturally. We highly recommend the upgraded dynamic lighting headlights too, which light up even the darkest backroad. The 360-degree camera provides extra security during tight manoeuvres, though we don’t love its extreme fisheye distortion.

X3 M: iDrive 8.0 might be a thing now, but the previous-generation system in the X3 M is still one of the better setups out there. It’s a similar tile-based experience to the Macan, but with more red to make navigation clearer—not to mention the big, redundant iDrive controller in the center console. If you care about that sort of thing, the X3 M has around an extra inch and a half of screen size, too. (Yeah, we didn’t think so.)

The BMW’s strength lies in its customization. The fully digital instrument cluster can be tailored to exactly what you want, while the head-up display (HUD) adds even more info right in your line of sight. On top of that, the pair of bright red M buttons make for one-touch shortcuts to your preferred custom drive mode settings. Every assist off for that au naturel track run? You got it. More eager drivetrain responses paired with the softest suspension, for that road home that really should’ve been resurfaced last year? Done.

SEE ALSO: Genesis GV70 vs BMW X3 Comparison: Compact Luxury Face-Off

BMW also offers more driving assists; yes, some require extra coin too, just like the Porsche. Adaptive cruise control is incredibly smooth in its operation, specifically when a fellow road-user merges into the lane a little closer than preferred. Like the Porsche, the BMW includes a parking assist feature. It goes beyond that with the Back-Up Assistant, which can retrace the X3’s movements in reverse.

Bottom Line: Porsche’s infotainment earns marks for its ease of use, but it doesn’t allow for as much customization as iDrive. The BMW’s digital instrument panel, HUD, programmable drive modes, and more robust assist suite earns it the edge here.

Powertrain, Driving Feel, and Efficiency

Macan: The T in GTS might as well stand for Turbo, because that’s what this trim effectively is now. The GTS is the top model in the Macan grade walk, and borrows the outgoing Turbo’s brawny 2.9-liter V6. Horsepower peaks at 434 horsepower, with 406 pound-feet of torque available from 1,900 to 5,600 rpm. Porsche quotes a run to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.5 seconds with the standard Sport Chrono pack. A seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission sends the power to all four wheels.

It’s even a pretty sweet-sounding engine. It lacks the clarity of the BMW’s inline-six howl, but there’s a low-down rumble that’s addictive all the same. The Porsche arguably needs that, since it’s playing with 69 less horsepower and 73 less units of twist. Right?

The Porsche has two secret weapons against the more powerful BMW. The first are its ultra-sticky tires, 295/35R at the rear with a ridiculously low 80 treadwear rating. You know, the same as the Cayman GT4 RS. The middle of October is about as late as we’d want to run this sort of setup, but it makes for laugh-out-loud levels of grip.

In tandem with the sticky meats is the best steering in the class. The Macan’s tiller scores high on weight, consistency, and feedback, making it a joy to fling through tight corners, and trustworthy at higher speeds. Body roll is practically nonexistent as the GTS simply digs in and rockets away. The spec sheets show it teetering right on the edge of two metric tons of curb weight, but you’d swear it’s dropped at least half of one. The PDK is wickedly fast when worked too, beating the X3’s trad-auto at speed, and not far off its smoothness when just tootling around town.

That’s the other impressive part of the Macan experience. It might be painted in a color more suited to a Porsche GT model, but it’s a docile ride around town. Only the most extreme drive mode has it feeling jittery.

We’re not going to pretend anybody dropping this much coin on a performance SUV is all too concerned with fuel economy. Nonetheless, the Porsche is friendlier on the wallet, scoring 17 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined. Our week with it was bang-on those figures, too. Canadian figures are 13.5, 10.7, and 12.2 L/100 km, respectively.

SEE ALSO: 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio: Still the Sporty SUV Summit

X3 M: In standard form, the X3 M puts down a totally healthy 473 horsepower, with 457 pound-feet backing that up. Go for the Competition package and those numbers shoot up to 503 and 479, respectively. With the quick-shifting, ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission sending that power through a rear-biased AWD system, the X3 M Comp will flash to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.8 seconds.

While BMW engines have a penchant for over-delivering—and the X3 M is no exception—the Macan’s engine feels like it’s finding even more clear space above its quoted figures. That means that while the X3 M does still feel the quicker of the duo, it’s not by much. Out here in the real world, neither of these things can ever see more than a couple seconds of sustained throttle anyway, lest you want to sacrifice your license (at best). That zingy inline-six soundtrack is addictive too, a higher pitch than the 2.9-liter V6, and that’s before it swings past 7,000 rpm—high for a turbo motor.

The pre-facelift X3 M was one stiff ride, and BMW has mercifully tamed this one. It’s still firm in all drive modes, but quite compliant in the standard setting. The throttle and steering responses are both fuzzy here though, so it’s best to swap into Sport to shake out the cobwebs. This is where the X3 M is at its best, the over-thick steering wheel finding good weighting. Go further and the X3 M gets unhappy without a track to tame. The ride gets jagged, the throttle somehow too sharp, the steering an oddly gloopy, artificially heavy helm. No thank you. The configurable M modes are excellent, allowing the driver to tailor the car to their needs. The brakes haul this thing down with authority.

The X3 M can’t hang with the Macan in corners. It’s lacking overall grip, with relatively narrow 255s up front, and 265s out back. A totally normal 320-treadwear rating means it needs longer straights to truly hang with the Macan.

BMW’s inline-six is typically a relative fuel miser, but the X3 M Comp’s got a thirsty one. It’ll drink to the tune of 15 mpg city and just 20 mpg highway, for a 17 mpg average. (Canadian figures: 15.7/11.7/13.9.)

Bottom Line: If you prize dynamics above all else, only the Macan will satisfy. It has frankly silly amounts of grip for the road, but still maintains that magic ability to play with the balance. The X3 M is a rocket, but its more pedestrian, upright roots—and especially its tires—ultimately limit the fun. Its most extreme drive mode demands a track.

2022 Porsche Macan GTS vs 2022 BMW X3 M: Styling

Macan: The Macan’s shape is a familiar one, as it’s been around for nearly a decade at this point. This year’s facelift is more of a change in makeup than anything. The nose gets a big black-out portion, which we think works better here than with other paint choices, because Python Green is awesome. Porsche tweaked the taillights too, but the general design, of clear lenses stretched right across the back-end, remains. It’s hard to really gauge the enormity of the 21-inch alloys since they’re all black, too.

Nonetheless, it’s a solidly good-looking car, the Macan.

X3 M: The X3 had its own facelift this year, though this generation is still much younger than the Macan, bowing in 2019. Slightly softer headlights blend well with the enlarged grille, while the taillight treatment is more expressive, separating the X3 out from the samey look that it shared with the X5 and X7. The web-like 21s look great, all because BMW knows a two-tone treatment can make them pop.

Anecdotal, but necessary: I expected the X3 to garner less comments than the look-at-me Porsche. Why wouldn’t it blend in with Urban Green paint, anyway? Yet it was the BMW that more people stopped, stared at, and talked to me about. The split between guys and gals was pretty much even, too.

Bottom Line: Both of these muscle-bound machines offer only subtle hints of the power that lies beneath. Whether you prefer the scowling BMW or the happy-face Porsche, expect positive responses either way.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Review: Muscle Utility Vehicle

Pricing and Value

Macan: Believe it or not, the Porsche is not the more expensive vehicle…

At least, not to start. And only in Canada.

The GTS rings in at $84,350 ($87,250 CAD), including destination. This one adds the desirable GTS Sport Package, which is a pricey $11,910 ($13,470 CAD) all on its own. Not only does it add the unique Python Green highlights, but it unlocks the exterior paint choice too. The Sport Package is a convenience move as well, bundling torque vectoring, the Sport Chrono package, upsized wheels, extended Race-Tex interior, and other goodies together.

Porsche still charges extra for all but the most basic driver assists, too. Yes, we’ve harped on this before, and yes, we understand this allows buyers to spec a car exactly how they want. But an extra charge for both lane keep and lane change assists? Another grand or so for a 360-degree camera? They all work well too. It will never not be odd that most of these are standard on cars one-fifth the price.

The final tally is $106,010. Canadians get an especially strong deal, as the same package goes for $113,620 CAD north of the border. That’s less than the Macan Turbo we drove in 2020.

X3 M: An X3 M Competition starts at $80,895 ($96,180 CAD). In America, buyers can skip the Comp pack and save seven grand, but they’ll miss out on horsepower, torque, a performance exhaust, M seats, and various other goodies. The Comp pack is so popular it’s standard in Canada.

Our Canadian-spec tester has no true US counterpart, as BMW offers vastly different options lists on either side of the border. Even adding on the BMW Individual Urban Green paint, a loaded X3 M Competition rings in around $92,000. The as-tested Canadian price: $109,280 CAD.

SEE ALSO: Porsche Macan vs Alfa Romeo Stelvio Comparison: Junior Sports

Bottom Line: Unsurprisingly, the BMW is the more affordable choice, and that’s before we take into account its extra power and longer feature list. However, that advantage is much smaller in Canada, where the price difference is just four percent. At the six-figure level, that’s nothing.

2022 Porsche Macan GTS vs 2022 BMW X3 M: Verdict

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the Porsche Macan truly is the sports car of the compact SUV realm. Throw it at a set of challenging corners and only a glance in the rearview mirror will remind you there’s an entire crossover back there.

The X3 can’t hit the highs that the Macan does. Its ride is stiff, its steering less sweet, and it doesn’t feel 70-ponies quicker. If you’re regularly planning on sticking adults in the back, they’ll appreciate the X3’s more roomy digs. If they’re the techy sort, the BMW’s broader lineup of digital gizmos will wow ’em, too. The BMW is the better all-rounder; the Porsche is the one we’d keep finding excuses to take out every Sunday morning.

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Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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2 of 6 comments
  • Dustin Dustin on Jun 12, 2024

    I have an x3m, and it is amazing, bought used is a bargain.

    true story, drove my friends 911 turbo s to 310kmh and then I drove my car to 275kmh, ok, a bit slower, but considering what it can do and it's size, its well worth it and has all the wow factor as the Porsche 911 for me at 1/4 the price, it is really worth it. some may say I'm crazy to compare the two, but I drove both and the x3m is a win win for me. I would not even have a 911 turbo s if I won 10 million bucks tomorrow, would be redundant in my garage, I would splurge and buy a 800hp Ferrari if we are going to talk sports car.....anyway, great great vehicle the x3m.

  • Dustin Dustin on Jun 12, 2024

    and to Griz above,......if you have the coin,.....the x3m is an animal; compared to the m40i which is a great car in its own right as a spirited family suv, but the x3m, comp or not.......is in a different league, like super suv league up there with the likes of the lambo urus and much cheaper.