BMW has revealed the first official details to its second-generation X3 prior to its world debut at the upcoming Paris motor show.
Set to go on sale in the UK in November at prices Munich officials say will be close to those of the outgoing model, the up-market off-roader has been completely redesigned re-engineered. BMW hopes the revisions will help the car emulate the success of the first-generation model, sales of which have now topped the 600,000 mark worldwide since its introduction back in 2003.
These pictures of a pre-production prototype issued by BMW reveal better than ever before the appearance of the new X3, which retains the two box silhouette and hard edged styling theme established by its predecessor. However, a taped disguise continues to hide its more subtle design features and detailing.
“We wanted to ensure there was a clear visual link with the first-generation model. When you see it in the metal without disguise for the first time there’s no doubting it is an X3,” an insider told Autocar.
Riding on adapted four-wheel drive underpinnings from the all-new 3-series, the X3 has grown in every dimension. It it is 83mm longer, 29mm wider and 40mm higher than before. The wheelbase has been stretched by 15mm.
The increase in size better positions the X3, slotting it neatly between the recent introduced X1 and X5. Despite the increase in size, engineers reveal kerb weight has been reduced by 25kg in the entry level X3xDrive20d model.
Inside, the new X3 sports noticeably higher quality dashboard and trim materials than its rather low rent predecessor – something BMW admits was necessary given the increased competition the new four-wheel drive faces. The instruments and switchgear are of a level comparable to those found in the new 5-series – and like that car, it also receives a new electronic handbrake mechanism.
The increased external dimensions helps improve interior accommodation; rear seat legroom has increased by 20mm and boot capacity extends by 80-litres to what BMW describes as a class leading 550-litres.
BMW has confirmed to Autocar the X3 will be offered with the choice of four engines from the outset of sales. Petrol units include a 268bhp naturally aspirated 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder in the X3xDrive28i and 302bhp twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder in the X3 xDrive35i.
The majority of UK sales, however, are expected to come from a pair of turbocharged common rail diesels; a 181bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder in the X3xDrive20d and a 241bhp 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder in the X3xDrive30d.
Other engines are planned to be added to the new line-up, including a 201bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel in a X3xDrive23d. An ActiveHybrid version is also in the works, according to highly placed BMW sources, although it isn’t likely to go on sale until 2012 at the earliest.
While the entry-level X3xDrive20d comes as standard with a Getrag engineered six-speed manual gearbox, the remainder get ZF’s latest eight-speed automatic with automatic stop/start – the first time such a combination has been applied to a BMW model.
In a move that provides solid hints to the mechanical make-up of the upcoming 3-series, BMW confirms the X3 adopts a newly developed mechanical-electric steering system from Thyssen Krup in place of the ZF engineered hydraulic system found on the outgoing model.
In a move aimed at answering long standing criticism of the X3’s ride, BMW has also provided the second-generation model with VDC – variable damping control.