Behold the 2011 BMW X3. It's longer, wider and taller than its predecessors, but you'd be forgiven for thinking it looks remarkably similar to the last X3.
Naturally, BMW's twin-kidney grille is affixed up front, but like the new 5 and 7 Series, it's more upright and slightly larger than before. The lower air dam is slightly chiseled while staying true to BMW's recent organic shapes, and the wider headlamps come equipped with "Corona Rings" and optional Xenon bulbs.
Viewed in profile, the outgoing X3's slab sides have been augmented with a character line running aft of the front wheels and kicking up over the rear fenders, while an upswept D-pillar compliments the redesigned LED taillamps and subtle crease over the rear-mounted Roundel. All in, the new X3 (F25) is half an inch taller, 3.36 inches longer and 1.1 inches wider with a half-inch increase in ground clearance. In keeping with tradition, it's a "lifestyle" vehicle first with no pretenses of hardcore off-roading.
Like the outside, the interior is a subtle evolution of its forebear, with a staid German style balancing functionality and form. The joystick-style transmission lever carries over from BMW's most recent models, along with an 8.8-inch iDrive-controlled screen and a redesigned steering wheel with aluminum accents on the paddle shifters and lower spoke. With the rear seats set in place, rear cargo volume comes in at 19 cubic feet, growing to 56.6 cubes with the 60:40 rear seats folded flat.
The entry-level X3 xDrive28i comes equipped with BMW's naturally aspirated 3.0-liter inline six rated at 240 horsepower and 230 pound-feet of torque, allowing BMW's best-selling 'ute to sprint to 60 in 6.7 seconds – about a half second quicker than the outgoing model. Step up for the X3 xDrive35i and you're basking in 300 hp and 300 lb-ft provided by BMW's new single-turbo N55 inline-six. The 0-60 run clocks in at a claimed 5.5 seconds, with a top speed of 150 mph when kitted out with the optional Sport package.
Channeling that power to the ground is a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox with wider spreads and taller cruising gears to keep fuel economy in check, while standard all-wheel drive splits torque 40:60 front-to-rear thanks to an electronically controlled multi-disc diff and a host of other gizmos.
The MacPherson front struts have been redeveloped along with the multi-link rear suspension, while an optional electronic damping control adapts to the road and driver inputs. Normal, Sport and Sport Plus modes are mounted next to the gear selector, tweaking throttle response, transmission shifts, steering assist, DSC settings and suspension firmness.
The newest electronic system for the X3 is the Performance Control feature, which shuffles 80 percent of the torque to the rear under steady-state throttle. Like Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, the BMW's system brakes the inside rear wheel and powers the outside roller to curb understeer and provide a more neutral driving feeling.
Production of the X3 will remain at BMW's Spartanburg, SC plant and sales are set to begin towards the end of the year. Hit the jump for the full details and check out the positively massive gallery of images below.
Woodcliff Lake, NJ – July 14, 2010 ... In 2004 BMW introduced a new concept to the market: the small, premium Sports Activity Vehicle with all-road capability and unparalleled driving dynamics. This first generation BMW X3 became a best seller in the BMW line...both in the United States and in Europe. Through its lifecycle, over 600,000 original X3s have been sold worldwide with 150,000 sold in the USA. Subsequently, several competitors have entered the now hotly-contested segment.
The new second generation BMW X3 builds on the success of the original by developing its core competencies while adding new technology to establish new benchmarks for agility, efficiency and comfort. The new BMW X3 will be produced in an expansion of the BMW Spartanburg, South Carolina plant and is expected to arrive in US BMW Centers by the end of 2010.
The design of the new BMW X3 conveys elegance, agility and ruggedness. Up front, the forward-slanting BMW kidney grille and large headlight assembly combine with a powerful-looking front apron and hood boasting six contour lines sweeping down to meet at the kidney grill, giving the X3 a bold presence. The twin round headlights combined with the round fog lamps form the triangular light pattern that is characteristic of BMW SAV design. The upper edge of the headlight assembly sports an accentuating chrome trim, creating the focused design typical of BMW vehicles. BMW's signature "Corona Rings" are again illuminated to function as the daytime running lights. When equipped with the optional Xenon headlights, the Corona Rings and daytime running lights are illuminated by bright white LEDs.
The profile of the new BMW X3 is also characterized by a unique interpretation of typical BMW X design features. Powerfully flared wheel arches and the short front and rear overhangs emphasize the robust character of a BMW Sports Activity Vehicle. The dynamic appearance of the silhouette is accentuated by three characteristic lines. The new BMW X3's brand-typical upper contour line at door handle level rises steeply at first within the front wheel arch area, then flows gently to the rear. Two additional subtle lines follow this contour line above the wheel arches.
The rear is characterized by horizontal lines, underlining the new BMW X3's robust character. Precise lines and expressively modeled surfaces create attractive light and shadow effects. The taillights, which are located far to the outside, have a distinctive T-shape that is characteristic of the BMW X3. LED light bars create a distinctive BMW night-time design signature.
Dimensionally, compared to its predecessor the new X3 is a half-inch (12mm) taller, 3.36-inches (83mm) longer, 1.1-inches (28mm) wider, and features a half-inch (12mm) more ground clearance. It rides on a wheelbase which is 0.6-inches (15mm) longer, at 110.6 inches (2810mm).
Interior: First-class ambience, intelligent functionality.
A generous and versatile spatial concept, high-grade materials and a characteristic three-dimensional surface design provide the interior of the new BMW X3 with a modern, premium ambience and intelligent functionality. The horizontal lines of the instrument panel accentuate the width of the interior. The driver orientated cockpit, a hallmark of BMW design, is emphasized by the asymmetrically designed center console. The Central Display of the optional navigation system with fourth generation BMW iDrive is harmoniously integrated into the instrument panel. The system features in 8.8-inch high-resolution trans-reflective screen that is the largest on-board monitor in its vehicle segment. Throughout the vehicle, new BMW X3 has a large number of storage compartments, trays and cup holders.
The raised seating position facilitates egress and ingress, while providing outstanding outward visibility. The three rear seats offer outstanding comfort for travelling long distances and significantly more leg and elbow room than its predecessor. With EU-measured cargo volume between 19 and 56.6 cu.ft. (550 and 1,600 liters), the luggage compartment of the new BMW X3 is the largest in its segment. At the same time, the versatility with which available space can be adapted to suit each personal requirement is also unrivalled. The rear seat backrests can be split at a ratio 60 : 40 and can be folded down either individually or together. The optional rear seats with ski pass-through has three segments of 40 : 20 : 40 can be folded down individually or in combination making it possible to adapt the luggage compartment in varying degrees according to need.
The X3 xDrive28i: 6-cylinder power for the entry model.
For the US, the entry-level X3 xDrive28i will feature BMW's award-winning magnesium/aluminum 3.0-liter inline-6. In 2006 and 2007, the "N52" was awarded the distinction of being one of Wards 10 Best Engines of the Year. Its magnesium/aluminum construction, Valvetronic variable valve lift and Double-VANOS are features found only on BMW engines, and it is currently the lightest six cylinder engine for its size class in the world. The N52 in the X3 is rated at 240 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 230 lb-ft of torque between 2,600 and 3,000 rpm.
That's good enough to accelerate from 0 -60 mph in 6.7 seconds (preliminary). That's nearly a half-second quicker than the previous X3 xDrive30i equipped with an automatic transmission.
The X3 xDrive35i: Class leading performance and efficiency.
The new top model BMW X3 xDrive35i features BMW's newest turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 "N55" engine combining direct fuel injection, twin-scroll turbo technology and Valvetronic. The N55 engine develops a maximum output of 300 hp at 5,800 rpm, with peak torque of 300 lb-ft available all the way from 1,200–5,000 rpm. Redline is 7,000 rpm.
This engine enables the X3 xDrive35i to sprint from 0 to 60mph in just 5.5 seconds (preliminary). Top speed is electronically limited to 150mph when fitted with the optional Sport Package.
Both the BMW X3 xDrive28i and the X3 xDrive35i will offer not only the most dynamic driving characteristics in their categories, but also by far the most favorable fuel consumption and emission levels within their class. EPA fuel efficiency estimates will be provided closer to the on-sale date in the United States.
Playing a supporting role: The innovative new 8-speed automatic transmission.
Like many new BMW models, the new X3 features an 8-speed automatic transmission which brings smooth shifting, sportiness and efficiency to new levels of perfection. Compared to the exemplary 6-speed automatic offered previously, the 8-speed has "taller" cruising gears that make a significant contribution to reduced fuel consumption and emissions, as well as quietness. Its wider spread of ratios from lowest to highest gear enhances acceleration and response across the range of driving speeds. The revolutionary design even allows for direct shifts from 8th gear to 2nd gear for maximum acceleration.
This new automatic's attributes have been achieved via an innovative concept that provides the two additional ratios (7 and 8) with no increase in bulk or weight. In a ground-breaking arrangement, four planetary gearsets and five clutch packs are controlled in a way that no more than two of the five clutch packs are freewheeling at any given time. The modest increase in the number of mechanical elements allows the new transmission to achieve unusually high efficiency. The so-called "gearing efficiency" is higher than 98% in all eight gears. In 6th, gearing efficiency is at its optimum because that is a direct drive. Combine this with reduced friction and the ability to keep the torque converter "locked up" more of the total driving time, and the transmission becomes very much a part of the overall BMW EfficientDynamics concept.
Two additional gears mean threefold progress: quicker shifts, greater smoothness, enhanced efficiency.
The wider spread of ratios allows the engine to run at lower speeds, often in the "tallest" gear, 8th. Yet even with this wider spread, the steps between adjacent gears are reduced; in turn this means a stronger, smoother flow of power during acceleration.
Faster shifts are a further benefit because only one clutch pack is disengaged to shift up or down by one or two gears. On the other hand, downshifting more than two gears is accomplished as a direct shift. For example, a downshift from 8th to 2nd gear is made with only one clutch pack disengagement, and thus occurs without stepping down through the intermediate gears. So, at one instant the driver can be enjoying the quiet, fuel-efficient low rpm of 8th gear, and in the next instant getting maximum acceleration.
New suspension, xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive, and made-to-measure dynamics.
The new BMW X3 features standard xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive. Now in its third generation, BMW xDrive has been revised to incorporate even more flexibility, quicker response and improved handling characteristics. The new system marks a significant evolution in xDrive capabilities, which has always depended upon a networking of Dynamic Stability Control and the xDrive system. With the overall Integrated Chassis Management system, all three control circuits work in parallel. This refined interaction achieves even quicker reactions to changing driving conditions and enhances xDrive's already outstanding handling dynamics.
BMW xDrive is unique in design and construction. In normal conditions, driving torque is always transmitted to the rear wheels, and most of the time to all four wheels. Normal torque split is 40% front/60% rear. The portion of torque transmitted to the front wheels is controlled by a multi-disc clutch that can be fully open (100% to the rear), fully engaged or at any level of partial engagement in between. The torque split between rear and front wheels is thus steplessly variable. Engagement pressure on the multi-disc clutch is directed by an electronic control system in response to actual road and driving conditions. This gives xDrive a dynamic ability that is unparalleled by other all-wheel drive systems.
The new BMW X3 also features completely redeveloped suspension technology. The combination of a double-joint spring-strut suspension at the front and a multi-link rear suspension provides the foundation for agility and driving comfort. The standard Servotronic speed-sensitive power steering contributes to the X3's precise handling.
The X3's optional Electronic Damping Control adjusts the shock absorbers to any level of firmness, quickly adapting to road conditions and the driver's demands.. Suspension control is always optimum for current road conditions, vehicle speed, and load. The shocks default to the softest appropriate setting for the vehicle's speed, and when the vehicle encounters an irregular road surface, they adjust instantaneously to control ride motions, preserve ride comfort, and maintain adhesion to the road. The system is so fast that even at highway speeds the system can sense a pothole at a front wheel and adjust rear-wheel damping before it reaches the same pothole. The Electronic Damping Control option includes a new Performance Control feature on the X3. Performance Control helps the X3 maintain a neutral handling character by adjusting the xDrive torque split to 20% front/80% rear in steady state cornering. Performance Control can also apply the inside rear brake while also applying a little more power to the outside wheel (to compensate for the additional drag of the brake) in order to help rotate the vehicle.
Adjacent to the E-Shift lever on the X3's center console is the optional Driving Dynamics Control selector (included with EDC). DDC provides three settings that tailor vehicle characteristics to different drivers, one driver's different moods, driving conditions – or all of the above. The settings are Normal, Sport and Sport Plus; the following vehicle-dynamics parameters are affected:
Shock-absorber firmness (within the Electronic Damping Control system)
Engine throttle response
Transmission shift characteristics
Power-steering assist level
Dynamic Stability Control mode
The X3's driving dynamics can be widely controlled by these different calibrations of so many elements. In addition, when equipped with the Navigation system, the driver may use iDrive to custom-tailor the Sport setting.
Just ahead of the Driving Dynamics Control switch is the Dynamic Stability Control switch for BMW's all-encompassing stability- and traction-control system. A brief push on this button switches the system to Dynamic Traction Control, in which DSC's intervention threshold is raised; one effect of this setting is improved traction in deep snow. A long push on the same button de-activates DSC altogether, though the anti-lock braking and anti-rollover functions always remain active.
An extensive range of standard and optional BMW ConnectedDrive functions.
BMW ConnectedDrive comprises all offers and technologies which connect our vehicles, drivers and passengers, and the outside world. ConnectedDrive is comprised of three main pillars: Convenience, Infotainment, and Safety. Each of these three pillars operates and interacts seamlessly with iDrive and other onboard controls to create a unique and unmatched experience for both the driver and passengers. These features will be outlined in detail at a later date.
Production at the BMW Spartanburg plant.
The new BMW X3 is produced at the BMW Spartanburg, South Carolina plant.. With the production of the BMW X5 and BMW X6 models, the location, has become the competence center for BMW X models within the BMW Group's worldwide production network. Thanks to a comprehensive $750 million expansion, BMW Plant Spartanburg is ready to produce the new X3 for distribution around the world.
Agility and comfort, sportiness and efficiency, ruggedness and elegance, flexibility and premium ambience – the new BMW X3 fulfils the varying demands made on a modern Sports Activity Vehicle. With its multifaceted qualities it sets new standards in the segment established by its predecessor. The all-new X3 is due to arrive in US showrooms by the end of 2010