The car that launched the mid-size SAV – Introducing the All-New BMW X3

The BMW X3 was the car that launched the mid-size SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) segment in 2003. Since then, BMW has recorded more than 1.5 million new registrations of the X3 across the two model generations so far. And now the new BMW X3 is set to write the next chapter in this success story with an even more striking, dynamic design language, powerful yet also efficient drive systems and luxurious appointments.

Available in South Africa from November 2017 and to be built at BMW Plant Rosslyn in the first half of 2018, the third generation of the BMW X3 follows in its predecessors’ tyre tracks by combining rugged off-road looks with a sporting presence.

BMW at the 15th Auto China Beijing 2018

The Exterior

The new BMW X3 elevates the already boldly dynamic design language of its predecessor to new, even more eye-catching territory. The third generation of the pioneering premium mid-size Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) treads a familiar BMW X family path in combining rugged off-road looks with sporting presence. The exterior dimensions of the new X3 may be largely unchanged, but its five-centimetre-longer wheelbase, long bonnet and extremely short front overhang with even more finely balanced proportions – which emphasise the perfect 50:50 distribution of weight between the front and rear axle – give it the edge over its predecessor.

At the front end, the chunky “three-dimensional” kidney grille treatment and foglamps featuring a hexagonal design for the first time on a BMW X model underline the confident character of the new BMW X3. Moving to the rear, the light clusters (whose three-dimensional look in optional full-LED guise give them considerable visual impact), markedly downward-sloping roof spoiler and twin exhaust tailpipes bring matters to a suitably muscular conclusion.

Three trim variants adapt the visual character of the new BMW X3 to tie in even more closely with the customer’s personal tastes. For example, the xLine model – with radiator grille and other exterior details in Aluminium satinated and specifically designed light-alloy wheels – emphasises the robustness of the Sports Activity Vehicle. The BMW X3 is now also available in Luxury Line trim, whose chrome radiator grille bars, two-tone underbody protection and classically designed light-alloy wheels shine an even brighter spotlight on the elegance of the exterior design.

The M Sport model focuses its attention on the dynamic gifts of the new BMW X3 with M aerodynamic features, a sports braking system highlighted by blue-painted callipers, a particularly dramatic wheel design and the optional exterior paint shade Phytonic Blue. And the new BMW X3 can now also be specified with BMW Individual features such as the exclusive Sunstone metallic exterior paint finish.

The all-new BMW X3

The Interior

The interior of the new BMW X3 follows BMW tradition with its driver-focused and ergonomically optimised cockpit layout and carries over many aspects of the car’s exterior design. For instance, hexagonal forms and precise, bevelled edges also play a central role in the interior. The interior as a whole displays exceptional material quality and fit and finish, and impresses functionality-wise. One example here is the well thought-out storage concept, which offers more stowage space than ever before and ensures it is easier to access.

Evidence of the attention to detail lavished by the designers on the interior of the new BMW X3 includes 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. The optional electroplated accents package adds extra class to the interior in the form of electroplated elements for the window buttons, start/stop button and controls in the centre console.

Model lines create a character-specific ambience.

As well as taking the exterior appearance of the new BMW X3 in their own particular directions, the three model lines also take specific approaches to the look and specification of the interior. The xLine model majors on pureness and elegance, and allows the standard-fitted sports seats with cloth/leather upholstery to be swapped for full leather items with contrast stitching and interior trim strips in Fineline Cove matt as an option. For customers looking to add extra richness to the inherent elegance of their car, the Luxury Line model offers leather upholstery, a Sensatec-covered instrument panel with contrast stitching and Dark Oak fine wood interior trim strips with accent strip in Pearl Chrome. The M Sport model provides a visual showcase of the new BMW X3’s dynamic talents with an M Sport leather steering wheel, sports seats in M-specific look, anthracite-coloured BMW Individual headliner and new interior trim strips in Aluminium Rhombicle inside the car and the M Aerodynamics package for the exterior. And then there are the optional BMW Individual features for the interior, centred around three exquisite variants of Merino leather.

The new BMW X3 can be ordered with a number of new, chiefly comfort-enhancing equipment options not offered for its predecessor. These include three-zone automatic climate control, which adds separate temperature controls for the rear compartment to those for the driver and front passenger. And the driver and front passenger can now also settle into perforated leather climate seats which, as well as seat heating for cold days, also offer active seat ventilation to maximise comfort when the going gets hotter. 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 cargo function. 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. Customers can also give the interior a particularly airy and even classier feel with the generously sized panoramic glass roof. Elsewhere, the standard-fitted acoustic glazing of the windscreen contributes to the extremely low noise levels in the interior. The two front side windows are also available with acoustic glazing as an option, ensuring that even less of the wind noise generated around the exterior mirror caps makes it into the interior and further reducing noise levels at high speeds, in particular.

The new BMW X3 can be locked and unlocked using the optional BMW Display Key familiar from the BMW 7 Series and BMW 5 Series. The BMW Display Key offers a whole series of additional features, such as keeping the driver informed of fuel levels and any service or maintenance work due, and letting them know if the windows and sunroof are closed. Plus, it can also be used to operate the optional auxiliary heating.

The optional combination of contour lighting above the trim strip in the instrument panel and ambient lighting, which directs a soft stream of light downwards from below the accent strip, bathes the interior in an extremely classy and relaxing ambience. In darkness, the central monitor appears to be literally floating above the instrument panel. Customers can choose from six colour tones (Orange, Lilac, Mint, Bronze, Blue and White).

The all-new BMW X3

Driving Dynamic and Chassis

The dynamic handling qualities of the new BMW X3 are rooted in its ideal 50:50 weight distribution, its meticulously honed chassis and the xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system, which made its debut in 2003 when the first generation of the BMW X3 was launched. Not only has the system been offering superior grip on slippery surfaces ever since, it has had a beneficial effect on driving dynamics, too. It is interlinked with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) meaning that the power split between all four wheels can be constantly varied to always produce the handling characteristics for which BMW is renowned, even when the driver is pressing on. The latest set-up has further enhanced the dynamic prowess of the new BMW X3.

Furthermore, the standard Driving Experience Control switch lets the driver choose between various configurations – i.e. 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.

The all-new BMW X3

Chassis: reduced mass and extra dynamism and comfort.

As far as the chassis technology is concerned, the third generation of the BMW X3 continues to rely on its winning formula of a double-joint spring strut axle at the front and a five-link rear axle. At the same time, this refreshingly engaging Sports Activity Vehicle delivers an even sportier driving experience than its predecessor without compromising on ride comfort. The engineers have succeeded in bringing about a considerable reduction in unsprung mass by fitting aluminium swivel bearings and lighter tubular anti-roll bars as well as optimising wheel location at the front. Plus, handling dynamics, straight-line stability and steering feel have all benefited from the uprated axle kinematics and the Electric Power Steering system with Servotronic function.

In an effort to improve handling dynamics, roll moment has been redistributed a long way to the rear and the rear bias of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system further increased. Intelligent AWD management allows adjustments to be made as the driving situation demands while still maintaining maximum traction.

In its basic specification, the new BMW X3 now rides on 18-inch light-alloy wheels (previously 17-inch), while wheels up to 21 inches in diameter are available ex factory depending on the specification and engine variant. The powerful braking system features lightweight brakes offering optimised performance as well as an Electric Parking Brake. To maximise safety, meanwhile, Driving Stability Control (DSC) including ABS, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Automatic Differential Brake (ADB-X), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and Hill Descent Control (HDC) are all present.

The All New BMW X3

Dynamic options: M Sport suspension, Dynamic Damper Control, M Sport brakes and variable sport steering.

The sports suspension that forms part of the M Sport package can also be ordered as a separate option. It offers the keen driver 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 situation. At the same time, the driver can use the Driving Experience Control switch to vary the basic 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 likewise available as an individual option (only with xDrive20d – standard on xDrive30i, 30d and M40i). The blue-painted aluminium four-piston fixed callipers at the front and amply proportioned brake discs have high levels of thermal resistance and deliver phenomenal stopping power despite their extremely low weight. Last but not least, the variable sport steering from the BMW X3 M40i is optionally available for the remaining models in the range.

Perfectly at home on rough terrain, too.

The new BMW X3 boasts the same off-road skills as its predecessor. The high ground clearance of 204 millimetres helps to ensure unhindered progress, not only when travelling along rutted gravel or sand tracks, over churned-up ground or in deep snow, but also on city centre roads with high speed bumps. The approach angle (25.7°) and departure angle (22.6°) of the new BMW X3 together with its breakover angle of 19.4° create plenty of margin for negotiating steep sections or crests. And with a fording depth of 500 millimetres, the BMW X3 can tackle water crossings with ease as well.


The Powertrain

The new BMW X3 line-up from launch consists of the xDrive20d with four-cylinder diesel engine, the xDrive30d with a straight-six diesel unit, the xDrive30i with four-cylinder petrol engine and the range-topping petrol model, the BMW X3 M40i. These will soon be followed by the BMW X3 xDrive 20i engine variant, which will be available in both rear-wheel-drive (sDrive) and all-wheel-drive (xDrive) versions. All the power units 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 efficiency of both the eight-speed Steptronic transmission and the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system.

The cutting-edge BMW TwinPower Turbo technology at the heart of the petrol engines comprises TwinScroll turbocharging, High Precision Injection, Double-VANOS variable camshaft control and Valvetronic fully variable valve timing. The diesel units, meanwhile, employ a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry as well as a common-rail direct injection system generating injection pressures of up to 2,500 bar.

New flagship model combines muscle with manners.

The BMW X3 M40i heralds the arrival of the first ever M Performance Automobile in this model series. The new range-topper is powered by a new M Performance six-cylinder in-line engine, which succeeds in blending its insatiable appetite for revs and sublime pulling power with exemplary smoothness and efficiency. The 3.0-litre unit generates output of 265 kW (fuel consumption combined: 8.4 – 8.2 l/100 km]; CO2 emissions combined: 193 – 188 g/km)*, an increase of 40 kW (+18 %) on the most powerful petrol variant in the outgoing range (the BMW X3 xDrive35i). Peak torque of 500 Nm represents a full 100 Nm – or 25 per cent – hike. This performance armoury equips the new BMW X3 M40i to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and hit a top speed of 250 km/h. Yet despite the substantial power boost, the compact SAV burns just 8.2 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on average

More power, lower fuel consumption.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in the new BMW X3 xDrive30i has an output of 185 kW (fuel consumption combined: 7.4 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 168 g/km)**, 5 kW more than the outgoing BMW X3 xDrive28i. Maximum torque of 350 Nm is on tap between just 1,450 and 4,800 rpm. The new BMW X3 xDrive30i reaches 100 km/h from rest in 6.3 seconds and has a top speed of 240 km/h.

Best in class.

The BMW X3 20i, which will join the fray shortly after the new model generation’s market launch, is as dynamic as ever to drive and yet more efficient than comparable rivals. In this power variant, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine musters 135 kW (fuel consumption combined: 7.4 – 7.2 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 169 – 165 g/km)** and transmits its peak torque of 290 Nm (predecessor: 270 Nm) to the crankshaft between 1,350 and 4,600 rpm. The dash from 0 to 100 km/h takes just 8.3 seconds in the new BMW X3 xDrive20i (sDrive: 8.3 s), while top speed is 215 km/h (sDrive: 215 km/h). Average fuel consumption is now 7.2 litres (sDrive: 7.4 l)** per 100 kilometres equating to CO2 emissions of 165 grams per kilometre (sDrive: 169 g/km)**.

Mightier and cleaner than ever before.

The 3.0-litre straight-six diesel under the bonnet of the new BMW X3 xDrive30d delivers maximum output of 195 kW (fuel consumption combined: 6.0 – 5.7 l/100 km]; CO2 emissions combined: 158 – 149 g/km*; predecessor: 190 kW. And peak torque has been increased by an impressive 80 Nm to 620 Nm between 2,000 and 2,500 rpm. As a result, the new BMW X3 xDrive30d storms from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.8 seconds and goes on to reach a top speed of 240 km/h. It returns average fuel consumption of 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres, while emissions have also been cut once again: the average CO2 figure works out at 149 grams per kilometre (a reduction of 7 g/km).

Reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

With an output of 140 kW (fuel consumption combined: 5.4 – 5.0 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 142 – 132 g/km)* and torque peaking at 400 Nm between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm, the vital statistics of the diesel engine in the new BMW X3 xDrive20d are unchanged from the predecessor model. The BMW X3 xDrive20d completes the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in 8.0 seconds and posts a top speed of 213 km/h.

The All New BMW X3

Eight-speed Steptronic transmission for all engine variants.

All the engines are mated to an eight-speed Steptronic transmission matched to the respective power unit’s specific performance characteristics. The transmission is likewise designed to be even more efficient, helping to lower fuel consumption and emissions.

BMW xDrive: further improvements in terms of efficiency and weight.

All of the models available at the introduction of the new BMW X3 are equipped with xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive as standard. The BMW X3 sDrive20i with dynamic rear-wheel drive will follow in 2018. The new model generation enjoys the benefits of both a more efficient and lighter rear differential and a modified transfer case, which made its debut in the current BMW 7 Series, operates far more efficiently and therefore represents yet another fuel-saving measure.

Intelligent lightweight design enhances both agility and efficiency.

Lowering the vehicle weight is a key factor in the efficiency and agility of the BMW X3. For this reason, intelligent lightweight design is integrated into all areas of development and encompasses every component. As well as the inclusion of plastics and state-of the-art composites, the increased use of aluminium components in the engine and suspension systems has also further reduced the weight of the relevant assemblies. As a result, the new BMW X3 is up to 55 kilograms lighter than the respective predecessor models in similar specification.

Aerodynamic honing has exceptional results: Cd = 0.29.

The new BMW X3 boasts a class-leading drag coefficient of Cd = 0.29. Reducing aerodynamic drag not only helps to lower fuel consumption, it also has a beneficial effect on noise levels. Besides its aerodynamically optimised proportions, the new BMW X3 also features additional underbody cladding, for example, that provides unprecedented underbody sealing. Further refinements, such as the restyled roof spoiler with aero edges at the sides and active air flap control, round off the aerodynamic measures. The latter regulates the flow of cooling air for the engine, brakes and air conditioning with even greater flexibility, and offers both aerodynamic benefits and further potential for savings in terms of energy and heat management.

First M Performance model in the X3 Range

The new BMW X3 M40i is the first ever M Performance model in the X3 line-up and sets new standards with its sharper dynamics, high level of exclusivity and standout emotional appeal. Developed with an insatiable appetite for revs and superb pulling power, the 3.0-litre M Performance six-cylinder in-line engine ensures the X3 M40i sits at the top end of the model range. Output of 265 kW (fuel consumption combined: 8.4 – 8.2 l/100 km]; CO2 emissions combined: 193 – 188 g/km)* propels the flagship X3 from 0 to 100 km/h in an impressive 4.8 seconds. The X3 M40i also includes a wealth of model-specific set-up and equipment features, which both underpin and lend added impact to the exceptional performance credentials of this SAV.

Among these features are the standard – and strikingly dynamic – M Performance-specific exterior design cues, which include the M Aerodynamics package with design elements finished in Cerium Grey. The flap-controlled M Sport exhaust system with Black Chrome tailpipe embellishers, M Sport brakes, M Sport suspension with M Performance-specific tuning, variable sport steering and 20-inch cast light-alloy wheels also come as standard. The X3 M40i can be specified as an option with adaptive M Sport suspension, which covers an even wider spread of ride comfort and sportiness set-up options.

The BMW X3 M40i leaves the factory equipped with an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission complete with Launch Control. This transmission is a perfect match for the engine’s dynamic characteristics and can be operated using shift paddles on the steering wheel. In addition, its xDrive all-wheel-drive system has a far more pronounced rear bias than on the other model versions. The Performance Control feature integrated into the DSC system and acting on the rear wheels has been reconfigured to produce the dynamism, agility and traction for which M models have made their name. Moving into the cabin, sports seats and the sprinkling of “M40i” logos adorning, for instance, the front door sill strips and instrument panel provide further visual emphasis of the car’s performance capabilities.

The new BMW X3 also excels when it comes to controllability and driver assistance systems. In addition to the iDrive Controller fitted as standard, specifying the Navigation system Professional opens up the possibility of touchscreen and gesture control – functions which have so far been exclusive to the current BMW 7 Series and new BMW 5 Series. The optional touch-sensitive central display provides a quick summary of the most pertinent information and offers users intuitive access to whatever they are looking for. Gesture control allows numerous infotainment system and telephone functions to be operated intuitively using finger and hand gestures. The vehicle can also be controlled using the Voice Control System, which offers the most advanced level of natural voice control currently available. This enables drivers to formulate their request in natural, everyday language instead of having to use set spoken commands.

The All New BMW X3

BMW Personal CoPilot: a comprehensive line-up of driver assistance systems.

When it comes to driver assistance and (semi-)automated driving, all the systems currently offered by BMW are available, such as the latest generation of Active Cruise Control (ACC), whose capabilities include braking the car to a halt in stop-and-go traffic and automatically pulling away again. The Steering and lane control assistant, and Lane Keep Assist with side collision protection, all form part of the optional Driving Assistant Plus safety package and work via active steering inputs. These functions enhance both comfort and safety, while also setting standards in the class.

The optional Head-Up Display allows the most important driving-related information to be projected directly into the driver’s field of vision. The Head-Up Display in the new BMW X3 is unrivalled in its segment for graphics, resolution and display options. Another unique feature that the new BMW X3 boasts over its competitors is the Remote 3D View function, which can be used to beam a three-dimensional view of the car’s immediate vicinity directly to a smartphone.

Intelligent Emergency Call with extended functionality.

The standard built-in SIM card also allows drivers of the new BMW X3 to use Intelligent Emergency Call with automatic locating and accident severity detection. With the new BMW Teleservice Accident Assistance, the vehicle now also detects low-speed collisions below the threshold for airbag deployment. The driver receives a message in the iDrive display offering to contact the BMW Accident Assistance service directly. A push of a button is all it takes to obtain professional support from the BMW Accident Assistance team, who can also put the customer in touch with a BMW Service Partner if necessary.

Linked up to the user’s digital world thanks to BMW Connected.

The digital services from BMW Connected bring intelligent connectivity to the new BMW X3 and interface the car with the user’s digital world. With the help of the Open Mobility Cloud platform, the digital services connect to the BMW X3 via devices such as smartphones or smartwatches, resulting in seamless connectivity. All services revolve around the driver and are presented in an intelligent, personalised form that suits the specific context.

The selection of devices that can connect to the new X3 by means of BMW Connected now ranges from smartphones running the iOS and Android operating systems via smart wearables like the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear (S2 and S3). Apple CarPlay is also available.


Production and Sustainability

Like its two predecessor generations, the new BMW X3 will also be produced at BMW Group Plant Spartanburg in the US state of South Carolina. But in order to meet the high global demand for the X3 even more effectively, another two production facilities will begin production of the car in 2018. From the start of the year, the BMW X3 will also roll off the assembly line in Rosslyn (South Africa) and in summer 2018 production of the X3 will begin at Shenyang in China.

BMW Group Plant Spartanburg began operations on 8 September 1994 and has since developed into the largest production facility in the BMW Group network. More than 9,000 employees currently work at the plant, and there are plans for another approximately 1,000 jobs to be created there up to 2021. Some 1,400 BMW X3, X4, X5 and X6 vehicles leave the assembly in Spartanburg every working day. Maximum production capacity stands at 450,000 vehicles per year.

The BMW Group has invested eight billion US dollars in the facility since announcing the construction of the plant in summer 1992. And from 2018 to 2021 another 600 million US dollars will be channelled into its manufacturing structures. Plus, the BMW Group has invested more than 220 million US dollars in training at Spartanburg over the past ten years. This will be supplemented by another 200 million US dollars over the next five years. The training programmes will be carried out in cooperation with local colleges.

BMW Group Plant Spartanburg also leads the way in terms of environmental responsibility. Up to 50 per cent of the plant’s total energy demands are covered by mined gas from a nearby landfill. Added to which, the amount of energy used per vehicle produced was cut significantly between 2006 and 2016. For example, water consumption during this period fell by 55 per cent and energy consumption by 66 per cent. Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) were reduced by 47 per cent, waste requiring removal was down by 82 per cent, and levels of process wastewater dropped by 61 per cent. A high-pressure reverse osmosis system enables reprocessing of 113,000 cubic metres of water per year. BMW Group Plant Spartanburg is also home to the world’s largest fleet of forklift trucks powered by environment-friendly fuel cell drive systems.

Recently, BMW Group South Africa announced that an additional R160 million will be pumped into the Rosslyn manufacturing facility to enhance production linespeed. The enhancement raises the maximum production capacity by almost 10%, from 71 000 units to 76 000 units, leaving the plant with excellent potential in the future to produce the highest volume ever in its 44 year history. The additional investment comes on the back of R6bn announced in November 2015 for the preparation of BMW Plant Rosslyn to produce the new BMW X3. Production will start in the first half of 2018 and see the proudly South African BMW X3 exported to Europe and produced for the local market.

Product attributes of the new BMW X3 are among the other factors in its excellent environmental rating. For example, 50 per cent or more of the aluminium engine and chassis components are made from recycled material. And at least ten per cent of the thermoplastics used are produced from recycled material.

In combination with the production structures at the plant, these measures result in a sustained reduction of CO2 emissions throughout the product lifecycle. Compared with the previous-generation BMW X3, the new car has a 13 per cent smaller CO2 footprint. This positive environmental performance is currently being verified by the TÜV Rheinland inspection authorities and certified according to the ISO 14040/44 standard.

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Author: TrackRecon℠

TrackRecon Motorsport group specialises in BMW / Motorsport Multimedia, Resources and Sales.

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