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New BMW X3 officially unveiled


Leaked hours before its official unveiling on Monday, BMW pulled the wraps off the third generation X3 at its Spartanburg, South Carolina plant late yesterday afternoon, confirming sales in the US to commence around November.

As per previous reports, the G01 generation X3 makes use of the same CLAR platform as the 5 and 7-series, with extensive use of aluminium in the engine and suspension resulting in a 55 kg weight reduction compared to the outgoing F25. Ground clearance once again stands at 204 mm.

Measuring 4 708 mm in overall length with a height of 1 676 mm, wheelbase of 2 864 mm and width of 1 891 mm, the G01 is also 54 mm longer overall, 60 mm longer in length, 10 mm wider and one millimetre taller than its predecessor, which BMW claims translates to a total cargo capacity of 500-litres, or 1 600-litres with the rear seats folded down.

To be offered in three trim levels; xLine, M Sport and Luxury Line, the X3 takes after the X1 and current X5 stylistically with a reshaped kidney grille, hexagonal-like headlights, new LED daytime running lights and at the rear, new light clusters with optional full-LEDs. Depending on the spec level, buyers also have choice of alloy wheel sizes ranging from 18 to 21 inches.

The biggest change however comes inside with the same layout as the 5 and 7-series, as well as the new 10.25-inch iDrive infotainment display incorporating Gesture Control, optional 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, new multi-function steering wheel, optional full-colour Heads-Up Display and a selection of new trim pieces and materials.

As indicated, active safety systems have been sharpened up compared with new items consisting of Personal Co-Pilot semi-autonomous driving including Active Cruise Control, Steering and Lane Control Assist as well as Lane Change Assist, Active Blind Spot Protection, Frontal Collision Warning with City Collision Mitigation, Daytime Pedestrian Protection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

In addition, a new Remote 3D View function allows the exact location of the X3 to be screened to the user's smartphone in a full 360 degree 3D format, while the contour lighting above the infotainment system is said to create a floating impression at night thanks a series of six colour light options as part of the optional Extended Ambient Lighting package.

Up front, and again depending on the market, the X3 will be offered with a choice of three petrol engines and two turbodiesels, all linked to a eight-speed Steptronic gearbox with drive either going to the rear wheels (sDrive) or all four (xDrive).

In terms petrol power, the base sDrive / xDrive 20i will utilise a 2.0-litre turbocharged mill producing 135 kW and 290 Nm of torque, while the xDrive 30i retains the same engine but with figures of 185 kW and 350 Nm. Top speed is a claimed 215 km/h for the former with 0-100 km/h taking 8.3 seconds, while the latter takes 6.3 seconds before topping out at 240 km/h. Combined fuel consumption is rated at 7.2 L/100 km and 7.4 L/100 km respectively.

Heading up the petrol range until the rumoured arrival of the X3 M, the new M40i packs a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six developing 265 kW and 500 Nm, enough to blast it from 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds, and on to a limited top speed of 250 km/h.

Fitted as standard with the M Sport styling pack, four mode (ECO PRO, COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+) Dynamic Damper Control system, variable sport steering, M Sport exhaust and a sports-optimised version of the eight-speed 'box, the M40i can optionally be specified with BMW's Adaptive M Sport suspension and M double-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels.

Diesel power will meanwhile come from a 2.0-litre mill in the xDrive20d making 140 kW and 300 Nm, and 195 kW and 620 Nm in the 3.0-litre xDrive30d. Top speed is a claimed 213 km/h for the former and 240 km/h for the latter, with respective 0-100 km/h times of eight and 5.8 seconds. Fuel consumption is rated at 5.0-5.4 L/100 km and 5.7-6.0 L/100 km.

The X3 is expected to make its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, with local production at BMW's Rosslyn plant outside Pretoria expected to commence at the same time as the US plant.

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