BMW reveals updated X3 and X4

Lionel Kong
2021 BMW X3 at sunset

Luxury SUVs get a midlife facelift, along with updated cabin technology. Set for Singapore debut at the end of 2021

Photos: BMW


Sportier, more modern, and more digital. That’s what BMW is promising with the midlife refresh of its X3 SUV and X4 SUV-coupe. The LCI (life cycle impulse, BMW speak for ‘facelift’) was announced at the same time as the new second-generation BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.

2021 BMW X3 driven
The refreshed BMW X3 sports a sleeker front end with slimmer headlight housings

The third-gen X3 SUV and its sibling, the sleeker X4, are set to be officially launched in the metal at this year’s Chengdu Motor Show in China on 27th August, and then make its European premiere at the IAA in Munich, Germany, on 7th September.

2021 BMW X3 driven

There will be three petrol engined versions of both cars, plus an X3 plug-in hybrid. Separately listed are the also-updated X3 M Competition and X4 M Competition (see below)

2021 BMW X3 driven
The BMW X4 shares many front end elements withe new X3 as well

Along with the usual visual tweaks, all the petrol versions of the cars will come equipped with 48-volt mild hybrid systems for better efficiency, and eight-speed automatic transmissions.

2021 BMW X3 driven

Immediately apparent from images is that the front bumper, intake grille, and headlights of both models have been given a new look. The tail lights also feature a new design motif. 

We tested the plug-in hybrid version of the BMW X3 against the regular gasoline model – and the numbers really were quite impressive.

While the X4 does feature the same nose as the X3, it adds an exclusive distinguishing feature in the form of the mesh kidney grille, already familiar from other sporty BMW models. The X4 also has flat full LED rear lights that are designed to emphasise the vehicle width.

2021 BMW X3 driven
The X3 (pictured) and X4 use the dashboard architecture of the current BMW 4 Series

The X3 and X4’s in-car technology has also been given a big update, and they will have BMW’s Driving Assistant Professional, available for the first time as an option. These systems deliver a lot of active safety aids and functions that are useful for urban driving safety, including active cruise control and city brake function. Another new feature is the optional BMW Drive Recorder, which can take videos around the vehicle.

2021 BMW X3 driven
The back seats of the X3

The cars’ dashboard architecture is shared with the current BMW 4 Series. BMW’s Operating System 7 holds court in the cabin, which means that it will have free, downloadable over-the-air updates to keep the system up to date for the foreseeable future.

2021 BMW X4 driven
The X4 cabin layout

The range starts from the X3 and X4 xDrive20i, with a 184 horsepower, 2.0-litre turbo engine. Fuel economy is rated at 8.4l/100km.

2021 BMW X3 driven
The X4’s sloping roofline means headroom for backseat passengers is very slightly reduced

Next up is the X3 and X4 xDrive30i, with the 2.0-litre turbo engine up-rated to 245 horsepower. They are only marginally thirstier, with a fuel economy figure of 8.5l/100km.

Further up the line, sitting just a notch below the massively powerful X3 M Competition and X4 M Competition, are the X3 and X4 M40i. Both are powered by the same inline-six cylinder, 3.0-litre turbo engine with 360 horsepower and claim an official fuel economy of 9.5l/100km. 

The X3 gets an extra variant in the form of the X3 xDrive30e. The new car will be an update of the current-generation plug-in hybrid, which features a full petrol-electric hybrid drive system with a 2.0-litre turbo engine. It can operate as a full electric vehicle for up to 50km, or be driven as a standard hybrid vehicle. 

The X3 and X4 are essentially mechanical twins with different shaped bodies, so much that their performance figures and fuel economy figures are identical. Also of interest is that unlike other more affordable SUVs, the X3 and X4 feature active four-wheel drive across the entire range, which is what the ‘xDrive’ in the model names represent.

BMW X3 M Competition and X4 M Competition get a makeover too

2021 BMW X3 M and X4 M
The updated BMW X3 M Competition (left) and BMW X4 M Competition (right)

The updates carry across the board, which means that the high performance versions of the X3 and X4 get new clothes too. Not just that, the engines have also been fettled to pull even harder. 

Peak power from the 3.0-litre, inline-6 cylinder turbo engine remains unchanged with 510 horsepower, but torque has been increased by 50Nm to 650Nm, partially through the used of a lightweight crankshaft taken from the new BMW M3 and M4. The net effect is that the 0 to 100km/h sprint time of the X3 M and X4 M have been shortened by 0.3 seconds, to a supercar-like time of just 3.8 seconds.

2021 BMW X3 M and X4 M

The new control island from the current BMW M3 and M4 models has also been ported over to the X3 M and X4 M. The centre console now includes two new buttons in addition to the specific M gear selector with Drivelogic rocker switch, the BMW Controller and the red engine start button. Two individually configured variants of the M set-up can be permanently stored and retrieved at any time using the two M buttons on the steering wheel. 

Based on the current range available at Singapore’s BMW dealerships Performance Motors and Performance Munich Auto, we can expect both the xDrive30i and xDrive40i variants, along with the X3 xDrive 30e and M versions to all be available in Singapore once again. Prices are not yet available, but the word is that the new models will arrive in Singapore in the final quarter of 2021. As it is with the vagaries of the local COE system, current X3 and X4 prices can be used as a rough gauge but we will know more in a couple of months. 

How about an affordable, pre-owned BMW X car now?


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About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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