Although BMW has clearly taken an evolutionary route in crafting the new X3, there are keen visual enhancements that serve to separate this from the previous one. Longer and wider here and there, the more appreciable changes come in the new hardware. The application of the heftier kidney grille works positively, as the X3 now has a more prominent façade. The headlights and fog lamps are now looking more up to date when parked against its peer group. Rearwards, the most obvious change would be the tail lights, which resemble an L-form throughout the lift-gate. Bigger squarish tailpipes replace the twin round mufflers that used to adorn the old model. New shape cuts a sleek 0.29 cD (coefficient of drag), aiding fuel economy.
Inside the cabin, Bimmer designers have managed to tidy up what was already a pretty clean enclosure. Foremost in the new dash design is the standard 10.2-inch touchscreen which sits atop everything, rather than being encased in the central housing. Like its 5 Series stablemate, this device now enables “gesture controls,” so you can access features without even touching a button. Three-spoke steering wheel and joystick shifter is little changed from before, but new touches like the “X logo” and swirl lines on the side A/C vents spruce up the interior.
Prominent iDrive controller sits in the middle, and remains an easy system to navigate. Beneath the skin is some clever engineering that helps enhance driving pleasure and comfort. Why mess with success, and here BMW makes use of the double-joint spring strut axle at the front and a five-link rear axle for the back. New additions though are the aluminum bearings and lighter anti-roll bars, that, when coupled with BMW’s other weight saving tricks, trims off about 55 kilos in total. This helps the X3 achieve a 50:50 weight balance for and aft, allowing it to be agile as it is practical.
For the first time in this class, BMW is offering an M-inspired model called the “X3 M40i.” This range-topping variant scorches the road with 360 horsepower (hp) and can tow heavy loads with its 500 Newtonmeters (N-m) of torque. It’s motivated by a turbocharged three-liter in-line six-engine that’s mated to an eight-speed automatic. Handsome 21-inch wheels are optional. For the local market, SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp. (local seller) has mentioned that they will be offering the X3 in two main trims. First is the xDrive 20d XLine, which is powered by a two-liter in-line four-turbo diesel that offers 190 hp and 400 N-m. With matte accenting on the grille and windows, it’s standard with 19- inch rollers and all-wheel drive. Then there’s the xDrive 20d M-Sport, which basically benefits from racier body cladding, but can be also fitted with uprated brakes and suspension.
The new X3 also comes laden with advanced technological systems, a testament to the brand’s movement to semi-automated driving. Features like active cruise control, steering and lane control, and lane change assistant are some of the safety options that allow the X3 to drive on its own even without the driver’s active inputs.
Should you get one?
The arrival of the third generation X3 comes timely, as its other European rivals have recently upped their game as well. Audi has just released a freshly penned Q5, while Mercedes has a hot entrant with the GLC. Jaguar’s new SUV, called the F-Pace, also shakes things up for the established German marquees. As is typical with BMW, count on the X3 to have the better road manners compared to its competitors. As for styling and comfort, well, these are things a proper test drive should fairly settle. Off to the dealerships for you then.
Photographs from BMW Press
This story first appeared in Metro Society, April 2018