Don’t be fooled by its evolutionary design – the third-generation X3 has been honed in every way to ensure that it stays relevant in this super competitive segment.
September 2013, Frankfurt Motor Show – BMW launched the updated second-gen X3. It went on sale the following January. After its launch, we got behind the wheel of the then new model, and came to the conclusion that it still felt like the younger sibling to the X5 – which was a good thing back then. However, in order to beat the competition, the X3 had to be more like the other vehicles in its segment. Now, with the world premiere of the third-gen model at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW seems to have addressed any shortcomings. It’ll be on sale in the West by November this year, while it should hit Indian showrooms sometime early next year.
BMW has high hopes for the new X3, since the two preceding models have registered sales of over a million-and-a-half units. That being said, it is up against some serious competitors, including the Audi Q5, Jaguar F-Pace, Mercedes GLC, Porsche Macan and the Volvo XC60. That being said, the midsize luxury SUV segment is booming like never before – last year, sales grew by 30 percent in Europe and 32 percent in the USA. Not to mention China, which still favours SUVs of all shapes and sizes.
Plenty of Everything
Though this statement is starting to get old, the fact remains that SUVs are still the flavour of the season. And this craze for high-riding vehicles is not going to die down anytime soon. Fortunately, it’s pretty evident that BMW understands this situation better today than it did 15 years ago when the first-gen X3 was launched. “It’s for this reason that we’ve adopted a different approach for the third-gen X3,” explains product manager Roland Meier. So what’s this new approach all about? Well, it can be summed up in three words – “plenty of everything.” And that’s perhaps why this time BMW will introduce a high-performance “M” version to the X3 range.
Dubbed the M40i, the first-ever X3 M car will feature a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder twin-turbo petrol motor developing 355bhp and 500Nm. 0-100km/h will be achieved in 4.8 seconds. And if you don’t fancy going that fast, you’ll also have the 20d generating 187bhp from its 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit, and the 3.0-litre inline six in 30d trim with 262bhp on tap. All these versions come paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and xDrive. There’s also a rear-wheel drive variant with a 2.0-litre petrol motor, but that will come later.
Like the new 5 Series sedan, the third-gen X3 is also based on the firm’s latest modular platform CLAR (Cluster Architecture). Thanks to this new architecture, the X3 increases its footprint and overall length by 50mm – the wheelbase now stands at 2,860mm, while it now measures 4,710mm in length. It’s also become wider by 10mm. The height remains more or less unchanged at 1,660mm. Despite being bigger in size, the new BMW X3 has gotten lighter by a full 55-kilograms. Also, not only is it easier on the eyes thanks to its smoother lines, but it also cuts through the air more effectively. The coefficient of drag has reduced from 0.32 to 0.29, which is the same as the smaller X1. All things combined, the fuel consumption and emissions have decreased, while the driving experience has improved. Or so says BMW.
Although the new BMW X3 has familiar touches like the signature kidney grille and other details typical of the brand, it definitely looks refreshing. “We kept the proportions constant, but made the design more dynamic and sporty so as to give it a strong emotional connect,” adds Meier.
Every feature has been enhanced in the new X3. From rims – which now start from 18-inch (21-inch on the M40i) – to the quality of leather used for the upholstery, to the dimensions of the panoramic sunroof (which is now 9.8 inches longer), to the adoption of a highly soundproof windshield (which is optional for the rear windows), to standard parking sensors – every feature has been meticulously designed. The boot is bigger too, and has a double compartment for the spare wheel. The rear backrests can be reclined forward and backward, improving passenger comfort. A long list of infotainment options and driver assistance systems are also available, either as standard or on request. All told, the standard equipment list has definitely been enriched without any significant hike in price.
BMW has been quite ambitious with the first ever X3 M performance variant, known as the M40i. With us here is Roland Meier, the product manager for the X3, to help us preview every aspect of this new car.
The finer points of the new X3: a prominent kidney grille, sloping roofline, three-dimensional combination rear lights, dual exhaust, longer panoramic roof, reclining backrests, and a more practical boot.
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