Despite being revealed a little earlier than scheduled thanks to a slip by someone with BMW’s Hong Kong office (cheers!), BMW has now fully unveiled their all-new third-generation X3, succeeding the previous version (F25) that’s lasted us since 2010.
The wraps got pulled off the 2018 BMW X3 at the automaker’s North American factory in Spartanburg, North Carolina - probably chosen as being the most German-sounding location in the USA - which should be undergoing a sizeable expansion to accommodate the shuffling production needs.
Given the timing, BMW’s has pounced upon the newly launched Audi Q5 and will go up against the still quite new Mercedes-Benz GLC and still fairly new Lexus NX. Visually, there’s not much to really give away the fact that there’s quite a bit changed under the skin over the outgoing car, but it nonetheless adopts the most recent aesthetic flourishes to come out of the Munich outfit. It was designed by Calvin Luk, the same Aussie responsible for the second-generation X1, hence the strong resemblance.
But perhaps BMW is allowed to be a little less daring in the face of a familiar looking (but all-new) Q5 and the claim that they started the whole midsize premium SUV craze with the original X3 way back in 2003, when they still called it a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV). While it wasn’t the most critically praised, that first- and second-generation sold a combined 1.5 million units, which is a big deal.
It is a larger vehicle than the older model, though, with a longer wheelbase and is a hair longer overall, resulting in shorter overhangs and generally larger cabin. While the architecture itself is suspected to have stayed fixed, BMW says they have optimised weight and managed to maintain the 50/50 weight distribution while also claiming to offer a sharper chassis that should help keep the Jaguar F-Pace at bay, arguably its most potent rival for folks in the market for a sporty midsize SUV, and a body that slips through the air with a little less resistance, boasting a 0.29 drag coefficient.
Stepping inside, there should be a degree of deja vu here too as the layout is kept very uniform with that established by new 5 Series and 7 Series, which itself is an evolution of the previous interior M.O in which the dashboard design uses a function-first approach. The large iDrive screen sits atop centre air vents and the rest of the HVAC array with key control points angled toward the driver. It’s incremental, but there wasn’t much to complain about with the previous interior, especially from an ergonomic or quality perspective and presumably the new X3’s cabin only builds on that foundation.
The 2018 X3 will come in three main varieties: xLine, M Sport, and the new Luxury Line. That last is both self-explanatory and a new trim level for the X3 while the M Sport (seen here) is clearly meant to appeal to the usual fans of aggressive-looking BMWs. All will come standard with 18-inch wheels but can be optioned to be as large as 21-inches.
Headlining the variants is the M40i that uses a turbocharged straight-six petrol engine with 265kW, giving the range it’s first sub-M performance version. In addition to this, there’s the usual range of turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and diesel motors, with the acclaimed ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission being the only transmission choice on offer.
Finally, the 2018 X3 brings BMW’s nascent Personal CoPilot semi-autonomous driving and safety suite to the range, including Adaptive Cruise Control, and Steering and Lane Control Assistant. Its availability across price point and variants will depend on the individual markets, though.