The release of the new third-generation X3 could turn out to be a milestone for BMW. Though a company once associated pretty strongly with its sporty sedans, the X line of compact crossover SUVs (or SAVs in BMW-speak) now makes up around a third of all vehicle sales. And the growth of the X line doesn’t look like slowing down just yet.
It’s important, then, that BMW get the X3 right. It’s not trying to get a foothold in a niche market (like with those *ahem* unusual minivans over in Europe). It has every chance of becoming BMW’s poster boy for the next few years, as sales of the 3 Series sedan continue to slide.
At first glance, the new X3 definitely seems to have got off to a good start. The second-generation X3 (pre-facelift, certainly, and arguably post-facelift, too) looked a little too chunky for some. A bit Jeep-y, almost like a real offroad car. For a company that prides itself on creating the Ultimate Driving Machine, it didn’t quite work.
The new X3, though, designed by Australian Calvin Luk, just feels like it’s taken the challenge of creating an SUV that is also a BMW more seriously. It’s a more aggressive-looking vehicle, with a lot of elements that wouldn’t look out of place on a sporty 2 Series. The blocky headlights and slightly industrial bumper have been replaced by a far more dynamic front end, dominated by a pair of imposing kidney grills.
It’s a vehicle that says you can have the comfort of an SUV, if that’s what you want, without losing the driving experience you’d expect from a BMW.
You can’t accuse appearances of being deceiving, with the M40i (yes, that really is an M Performance version of the X3) boasting 355 hp and hitting 60 mph in well under five seconds. I’ll just remind you again that we’re talking about a roomy, five-seat, family-hauling SUV here.
BMW haven’t skimped on the creature comforts, though. If you don’t feel like hitting the track to push the 155 mph top speed, you can flip it into Comfort mode and relax. Featuring the latest iDrive 6 system with a 10.2″ dashboard display as standard, and offering optional CarPlay integration, it’s well prepared for everyday driving.
And if you really want to make the most of the fact that it’s an SUV, the X3 comes with a whopping 63.3 cubic feet of trunk space. The internet tells me that’s enough space for 15,000 hockey pucks.
BMW’s X line is often touted by its fans as ticking all the boxes. The comfort and convenience of an SUV, with the performance of a sports car. Could the X3 be about to prove that assessment right?