- Published: Wednesday, 28 June 2017 09:36
A longer wheelbase gives the X3 more cabin space, but it's a new M Sport edition that we're most excited about
SAY HELLO TO the new, third-generation X3, the middle child of BMW’s SUV range. It may look not much more than a facelift, but it is in fact a new model, featuring new tech, new features and new engines.
Here’s a handy infographic that BMW helpfully provided us to sum up a number of the car’s changes, and perhaps to suggest that it isn’t so samey-looking, after all.
The car's external dimensions have grown (it's 61mm longer, 17mm wider and 16mm taller than the last X3, and the wheelbase has been given a 54mm stretch to improve passenger accommodation. New materials and construction techniques mean it's shed weight in spite of having bulked up, though, and it's roughly 55kg lighter than before.
The big headline for Bavaria’s rival to the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC is the inaugural introduction of a hot M Performance variant. Like the other “40i” models in the BMW range (M140i, 340i, 540i), the X3 M40i uses a twin-turbo 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine with 360hp and 465Nm of torque, and is paired with the xDrive all wheel drive system to harness all that power.
Also available will be a couple of four-cylinder engines which are shared with other BMW models - the xDrive30i packs the same 252bhp and 350Nm as the 530i, while the xDrive20i has 184bhp and 290Nm. The latter is also available as an sDrive model, which is BMW-speak for rear wheel drive-only SUVs. All powertrain options are mated to the familiar ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox.
Anyone who’s spent any time in a latest-gen 5 or 7-series will find the interior instantly familiar. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and iDrive touchscreen display (with finger-wagging Gesture Control) are lifted straight out of the luxury sedans, as is the optional BMW Display Key, which allows you to remotely monitor your fuel and maintenance status, activate the ventilation system, and check if your doors and windows are closed, among other functions.
In addition to this shared technology, the X3 will also be getting some optional features that weren’t available on the outgoing model. These include heated/ventilated front seats, three-zone climate control (for the driver, front passenger and rear passengers), 40:20:40 split folding rear seats, and a panoramic glass roof.
Practicality is a key factor in the segment, and the 550-litre boot can be expanded to 1,600 litres by dropping the rear seats. Note the new cargo fastening rail system on the boot floor, too.
For all the impressive gizmos on offer however, any BMW’s essence lives or dies by the way it carries itself down a road. To that end, the X3 sits on a new platform (one that’s related to the G30 5-series), and has a greater number of aluminium components in its suspension to reduce unsprung mass, which should improve ride comfort and handling precision. BMW is also keen to highlight the X3’s 50:50 weight distribution (the hallmark of many a great-handling BMW), as well as class-leading 0.29Cd drag coefficient.
There’s no indication of local pricing so far, but it will probably make its debut here at the 2018 Singapore Motorshow in January.
The car is being launched without the sDrive20i version that is currently the only X3 available here, but should enter production eventually and is unlikely to be much changed in terms of price. That means a list price of under $220,000 at today's COE prices, by our reckoning.
As for the hot new X3 M40i, overseas pricing puts that at similar pricing to the 340i M Sport, which lists for $283,800 with COE. That might seem a lot to pay for a mid-size SUV, but it's a car that can hit 100km/h in 4.8 seconds. That's the sort of performance to leave many other cars in the dust.