BMW has unveiled its third-generation X3 medium SUV overseas, keeping external dimensions close to the outgoing model but improving passenger space, reducing weight, and boosting technology across the range.
A new M40i model sits as the X3’s flagship, with a 265kW/500Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine and a promised 0-100 km/h time of 4.8 seconds. From launch a pair of four-cylinder petrol models, and two diesels, one four-cylinder and one six-cylinder will also be offered.
At the X3’s core a new platform sees the X3 riding on a five-centimetres longer wheelbase to the benefit of interior space. The new chassis architecture also brings a reduction in weight compared with the previous generation.
Overall the new X3 grown in length by 61mm and width by 17mm compared to the outgoing model at 4716mm long, 1897mm wide, and 1676mm tall (in M40i guise) making it slightly larger in every direction compared to Audi’s recently introduced Q5.
Boot space has been increased to 550 litres (up by 50 litres) with 40:20:40 folding rear seats as standard freeing up a maximum of 1600 litres of cargo space.
From the outside the X3 wears a new suit penned by Australian designer Calvin Luk, who was also responsible for the design of the current X1. The new X3 sticks to BMW’s SUV design language with a strong shoulder line and more rounded forms than its predecessor.
BMW has added features including LED headlights and tail lights as standard, along with a powered tailgate as standard, but it’s the X3’s options list that really impresses, taking cues from the 5 Series and 7 Series range with available gesture control, display key, and BMW CoPilot semi-autonomous driving aids available.
The X3 range will also be offered with a choice of model lines, with the off-road styled xLine, upmarket Luxury Line, or sport M Sport available across the range, paired with alloy wheels available from 18-inches up to 21-inches in diametre.
Extensive work has also gone into improving the X3’s aerodynamics to the benefit of fuel economy with extensive underbody panelling, active grille shutters and a longer rear spoiler designed to make it move through the air more cleanly.
Along with the M40i, BMW will offer a 135kW/290Nm X3 xDrive 20i and 185kW/350Nm X3 xDrive 30i each powered by a version of BMW’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine. Diesel buyers will have a choice of 140kW/400Nm X3 xDrive 20d four-cylinder or 195kW/620Nm X3 xDrive 30d six-cylinder engines.
All variants will be paired with an eight-speed automatic as standard with all wheel drive offered across the range, though European buyers will also have the option of a two wheel drive sDrive 20i variant.
Further down the track, BMW will add a plug-in hybrid X3 xDrive 40e iPerformance model, as well as a fully-electric X3e as BMW moves away from stand alone i models and begins to adapt its regular production models with electric drivetrain technology to fend of vehicles like the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron.
European sales of the regular X3 range are expected to begin in in the fourth quarter of 2017 with an Australian debut set to take place during the first half of 2018.
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