The new third-generation BMW X3 combines rugged off-road looks with a greater sporting presence. It builds further on its reputation as one of the most dynamically competent and technologically advanced SUVs in its class, whilst retaining its premium image. The new model also brings in a new 2.0-litre petrol engine alongside the familiar diesel offering, plus a new performance flagship, the M40i – the first ever M Performance vehicle in the X3 line-up, emphasising the class-leading dynamic appeal of the model.
A whole range of Driver Assistance systems also ensure it is one of the most advanced, as well as safest, cars in its class, with multi-platform connectivity that reaches new levels.
The exterior dimensions of the new BMW X3 are largely unchanged, but its five-centimetre-longer wheelbase, long bonnet and short front overhang emphasise its 50:50 weight distribution between front and rear axle. At the front, the chunky three-dimensional kidney grille and LED fog lamps feature a hexagonal design for the first time on a BMW X model. Moving to the rear, the three-dimensional LED light clusters, downward-sloping roof spoiler and twin exhaust pipes further enhance the appearance.
The three trim variants each have an individual appearance. The SE model features LED Headlights and taillights as standard, along with aluminium satinated roof rails and a new 18-inch wheel. The xLine model gets a satin/aluminium radiator grille, more rugged front and rear bumpers with silver metallic side sills along with 19-inch xLine specific wheels.
The sports-oriented M Sport model focuses on the X3’s dynamic ability, with M aerodynamic features, optional blue-painted brake callipers, a more dramatic 19-inch wheel design and the optional exterior paint shade of Phytonic Blue.
The new M40i features a unique M Performance exterior design with Cerium Grey kidney frames, front and rear bumper inserts, mirror caps, window graphics and air breather. The rear tailpipes have an elongated rectangular shape in black chrome. A new optional 21-inch wheel is limited to the M40i only.
The interior of the new X3 follows BMW tradition with a driver-focused and ergonomically designed cockpit. Hexagonal forms and precise, bevelled edges are a distinct design theme. The material quality and fit and finish are of a class above what you’d expect for a mid-range SAV, as you’d expect from a BMW, while it is also impressively functional, with more cabin stowage compared to its predecessor.
Smart details include the BMW X logo, which reoccurs frequently in different forms. For example, there is an embossed X in the electroplated accents in the front and rear doors and another on the B-pillars. As with the exterior, the three different trim levels each take a specific approach to the look and feel of the interior.
The SE features Vernasca leather seats as standard, high gloss interior trim with pearl chrome highlights, sport steering wheel and interior ambient lighting which directs a soft stream of light downwards from below the accent strip, adds a classy and relaxing ambience. Customers can choose from six colour tones – Orange, Lilac, Mint, Bronze, Blue and White. The car has standard Business Navigation and Park Assist (including a rear parking camera).
The xLine is pure and elegant, with sports seats finished in Vernasca leather.
The M Sport gets a bespoke leather steering wheel, M-specific sports seats, anthracite-coloured BMW Individual headlining and new interior trim strips in Aluminium Rhombicle. This car model is also equipped as standard with the BMW Professional Navigation system with new 10.3-inch screen. There are a number of BMW Individual options for the interior, centred around three exquisite variants of Merino leather.
The all-new X3 features three-zone automatic climate control as standard. This feature adds separate temperature controls for the rear compartment to those for the driver and front passenger. To further improve comfort in the rear compartment, the angle of the standard 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat backrests can be adjusted individually and through various stages thanks to the optional rear comfort seat. This feature also allows the backrests to be released remotely from the load compartment, which expands the standard load capacity of 550 litres to 1,600 litres.
Both front passengers can now also settle into optional perforated leather climate seats, which, as well as heating for cold days, offer active seat ventilation to provide more comfort when the going gets hotter.
Another option is a generously sized panoramic glass roof, while acoustic windscreen glazing contributes to extremely low noise levels in the cabin. The two front side windows are also available with acoustic glazing as an option, ensuring that even less wind noise makes it into the interior.
The new BMW X3 can be locked and unlocked using the optional BMW Display Key found on the BMW 5 Series and 7 Series. The Display Key offers a series of additional features, keeping the driver informed of fuel levels and any service or maintenance work due, and letting them know that the windows and sunroof are closed. Plus, it can also be used to operate the optional auxiliary heating.
With ideal 50:50 weight distribution, a finely honed chassis and xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive, linked to Dynamic Stability Control, the new X3 proudly shows off the handling characteristics for which BMW is renowned.
Furthermore, the standard Driving Experience Control switch lets the driver choose between various configurations – ECO PRO, COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+ modes (only on the 30i, 30d and M40i) – designed to make the vehicle more dynamic, more comfortable or more efficient to drive.
As far as the chassis technology is concerned, the third generation X3 maintains its winning formula of a double-joint spring strut axle at the front and a five-link rear axle.
At the same time, it delivers an even sportier driving experience than its predecessor without compromising on ride comfort. BMW’s engineers have made a considerable reduction in unsprung mass, fitting aluminium swivel bearings and lighter tubular anti-roll bars.
To further improve dynamics, the rear bias of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system is increased. Intelligent AWD management allows adjustments to be made as the driving situation demands, while still maintaining maximum traction.
In basic specification, the new X3 has 18-inch light-alloy wheels (17-inch previously), while wheels up to 21-inches in diameter are available depending on the specification and engine variant.
The sports suspension that forms part of the M Sport package can also be ordered as a separate option. It offers firmer suspension and damping and beefs up the anti-roll bars. Alternatively, there is also the option of Dynamic Damper Control with electronically controlled dampers, which adapts the damper responses to the road surface and driving conditions.
At the same time, the driver can use the Driving Experience Control switch to vary the suspension characteristics as they please between the more comfortable and sportier ends of the scale.
The sports braking system included with the M Sport package is available as an individual option, or as part of the M Sport Plus Package. The blue-painted aluminium four-piston fixed calipers at the front and amply proportioned brake discs have high levels of thermal resistance and deliver phenomenal stopping power despite their extremely low weight.
Variable sport steering is standard on the BMW X3 M40i and xDrive 30d, and can be specified as an option on the two litre diesel and petrol.
The BMW X3 is a capable off-road vehicle for its intended audience. The approach angle (25.7°) and departure angle (22.6°), together with a breakover angle of 19.4°, create plenty of margin for negotiating steep sections or crests. And with a fording depth of 500 millimetres, the X3 can tackle most obstacles with ease as well.
From launch, the X3 model line-up consists of the xDrive20d with four-cylinder diesel engine, the xDrive30d with a straight-six diesel units.
These will soon be followed by the xDrive20i engine variant, and the range-topping petrol model, the BMW X3 M40i. All stem from the latest generation of BMW engines and operate even more efficiently than the models they replace. Further improvements have also been made to the eight-speed Steptronic transmission and the BMW xDrive intelligent all- wheel-drive system to add efficiency.
The cutting-edge BMW TwinPower Turbo technology at the heart of the petrol engine comprises TwinScroll turbocharging, High Precision Injection, Double-VANOS variable camshaft control and Valvetronic fully variable valve timing. The diesel units, meanwhile, have a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry as well as a common-rail direct injection system generating injection pressures of up to 2,500 bar. Emission control is handled in both cases by BMW BluePerformance technology, comprising a particulate filter, oxidation and NOx absorption catalysts, plus an SCR catalytic converter with AdBlue injection.
The range-topping M40i is the first ever M Performance X3 model. It is powered by a new M Performance 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, which generates 360hp, an increase of 54hp (18 per cent) over the most powerful petrol variant in the current range. Peak torque of 500 Nm is 100 Nm – or 25 per cent – greater. It can sprint from zero to 62mph in 4.8 seconds and hit a top speed of 155 mph.
The 3.0-litre straight-six under the bonnet of the new xDrive30d delivers 265hp and peak torque has been increased by an impressive 80Nm to 620Nm between 2,000 and 2,500 rpm. Zero to 62 mph takes just 5.8 seconds and it can reach a top speed of 149 mph. It returns average fuel consumption of 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres (49.6 mpg imp), while CO2 emissions have been cut to an average figure of 149 g/km (a reduction of 7 g/km).
Finally, the xDrive20d has an unchanged power output of 190hp, 400Nm of torque and does zero to 62mph in 8.0 seconds, with a top speed of 132mph. All the engine variants are equipped with an eight-speed Steptronic transmission, matched to the power unit’s specific performance characteristics.