BMW has picked up where it left off with the successful X5 and produced the slightly smaller X3 – an SUV with outstanding ride quality, CAR’s correspondent found at the vehicle’s recent launch.

BMW has picked up where it left off with the successful X5 and produced the slightly smaller X3 – an SUV with outstanding ride quality, CAR’s correspondent found at the vehicle’s recent launch.
CARtoday.com reported on Tuesday that BMW South Africa will initially offer two straight-six petrol-engined derivatives of the X3, with the two-litre diesel engine to be added later. The 2,5-litre engine produces 141 kW at 6 000 r/min, 245 N.m of torque at 3 500 r/min and BMW claims the 2,5i manual will sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 8,9 seconds, accelerate from 80-120km/h in fourth gear in 8,6 seconds and reach a top speed of 208 km/h.
Developing maximum output of 170 kW, the X3 3,0i is said to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 8,1 seconds and from 80 to 120 km/h (in fourth gear) in 7,7 seconds before reaching a top speed in standard trim of 210 km/h. At launch the X3 3,0i comes as standard with a five-speed automatic transmission. The 2,5i variant is kitted with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the five-speed automatic transmission is available as an option.
To increase exposure and attract more customers, perhaps a slightly younger crowd, BMW has followed up the X5 with something very similar, sporting sharper styling, muscular-looking bonnet scallops and a gently sloping roofline.
Prospective purchasers should ideally not only be healthy and fit, but should also have healthy bank balances, as this vehicle is pegged a few rungs above some of the opposition, such as the Land Rover Freelander and the Nissan X-trail.
Four-wheel drive comes from BMW’s X-drive system, which allows infinitely variable split of front and rear traction depending on where the grip is required. The fit and finish is as one would expect from BMW and interior space is especially good with comfortable leather seats and lots of legroom. Luggage space also appears ample, but only a space saver spare wheel is supplied.
The X3 handles like a well-sorted saloon, even with its 201mm ground clearance, and when we turned onto the narrow, twisty and bumpy Swartberg pass, it showed how well designed BMW suspension really is. No rattles, little noise, soaking up the bumps with ease. We were not aware of changes in power distribution from the X-drive and there was no driveline snatch. Steering feel was also spot-on with lots of feedback from the varying road conditions.
From the Swartberg pass we then left the snow-capped mountains and headed down to the Gamkaskloof, “affectionately” known as “die Hel”. “Die Hel” was more like a tranquil paradise, although the road is very narrow with numerous hairpin switchbacks. With the outside temperature dropping as low as 2,5 degrees, overheating was not going to be a problem, and the optional panoramic sunroof, which offers a substantial viewing area, managed to keep the cold air out while letting the sunshine in.
A full road test of the BMW X3 is scheduled to appear in an upcoming edition of CAR magazine. To read more about the X3’s specifications and prices click here.

Original article from Car