Ever since the Münchners discovered the letter X in 1999 things have been all rainbows and sunshine over at BMW.
It’s hard to believe the original X5 five-seater SUV is already 18 years old, no doubt planning a major 20th anniversary birthday bash for 2019 in the shape of some small metal plaques stuck on the dash reading ‘Limited Edition’. BMW’s SUV range has since grown to number five models, with a sixth (the X7) due to arrive next year, followed by a seventh (the little X2). Currently sitting right in the middle of the line-up, the X3 nameplate joined the SUV range in 2003 and over two generations of the vehicle BMW’s sold 1.3 million of the things.
Now the new third-generation X3 has been revealed, growing in size, performance, and price, although you now get way more kit for your money.
Although the exterior dimensions haven’t changed much, the new X3 features a 50mm longer wheelbase for more interior room, and a longer bonnet for better proportions which ensures a short front overhang. BMW will offer the model in three trim variants including an M Sport model with 19in wheels, optimally blue-painted brake calipers, and unique styling additions like contrasting bumper insets, and black exhaust tail pipes, as well as optional 21in wheels exclusively available on the X3 M40i which tops the line-up.
Like that hexagonal kidney grille up front, the hexagonal theme continues inside with details like BMW’s X logo embossed in the doors and on the B-pillars. Only the X3 M Sport gets a bespoke leather steering wheel, unique sports seats, BMW Individual headlining and standard equipment including a new 10.3in screen.
You’ll be pleased to note that also standard is three-zone automatic air conditioning, but of course you’ll have to pay extra for a panoramic glass roof, and special windows with acoustic glazing to lower wind noise intruding into the cabin.
Since it sits on a new modular platform (shared with the 5 Series) the X3 is lighter than its predecessor, and boasts a 50:50 weight distribution, with all-wheel drive on board and five different driving modes including Sport+. BMW even claims the third-generation X3 will be capable off-road, though its approach (25.7 degrees) and departure angle (22.6 degrees) only seem good enough for a tall parking garage kerb, although the quoted 500mm wading depth capability is impressive.
A comprehensive list of driver assistance systems was high up BMW’s priority list here, so the X3 gets active cruise control and emergency braking and steering, plus an optional head-up display that’s now 70 per cent larger than before.
If you go for the M40i, and you probably will, you also get an updated eight-speed automatic transmission mated to a 3.0-litre straight-six turbo generating 360bhp (54bhp more than before) and 500Nm of torque (a 25 per cent improvement). This is good enough to get you a time of 4.8 seconds from zero to 100kph, and a top speed electronically limited to 250kph.
Prices are expected to start from about Dh220,000 when the third-generation X3 arrives in our region and that will be next year.