Days after leaked images surfaced, the covers have finally been pulled off the G01 BMW X3. Munich’s compact crossover has been given a new lease of life, completely redesigned with new engines and technologies from its larger siblings.

The design takes getting used to, with massive kidney grilles that dominate the front end. The headlights are no longer joined to those grilles, but the optional adaptive LED units feature the same hexagonal corona ring LED daytime running lights that we first saw on the G30 5 Series. The bumper design has been made bolder as well, and the fog lights are now slimline LED units that fit inside the Air Curtain intake enclosures.

Along the sides, the signature Hoffmeister kink is now just a single upwards flick on the window line at the C-pillars. The side surfacing has been simplified as well, and Air Breather vents now appear aft of the front wheel arches. Moving to the rear, there are three-dimensional L-shaped tail lights – similar to the new 6 Series Gran Turismo – along with standard twin tailpipes for the first time.

As usual, the X3 comes in standard xLine and sportier M Sport trims, but there’s now also a Luxury Line with chrome accents and two-tone bumper protection panels. Meanwhile, M Sport models gain a sports braking system with blue callipers and a new Phytonic Blue hue, in addition to the usual bodykit. Available wheel sizes now range from 18 inches up to a massive 21 inches.

Inside, the X3 carries many cues from the 5 Series, including a lower-profile dashboard, a floating centre display, a new multifunction steering wheel and an optional 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster. Buyers can also specify electroplated controls such as the window, engine start/stop and centre console buttons – much like what you see on the 5 and 7 Series.

A 5 cm longer wheelbase should ensure that there is more space, particularly for rear passengers, and the boot now measures 550 litres, expandable to 1,600 litres with the 40:20:40-split rear seats folded. An optional cargo package allows those seats to be individually adjusted, and adds buttons on the side of the load bay to fold them; there’s also storage space under the boot floor, including a compartment for the tonneau cover.

The new iDrive system with its tiled interface is taken from the 5 Series, and specifying the Professional navigation system adds a 10.2-inch touchscreen and gesture control. Other new options include three-zone climate control, ventilated seats, the now familiar BMW Display Key, ambient lighting, Ambient Air fragrance, a large panoramic sunroof and side acoustic windows to go with the standard acoustic windscreen.

Available safety kit has also been increased, with the inclusion of semi-autonomous driving features now grouped under the BMW Personal Co-Pilot banner. These include the Active Cruise Control (ACC) with stop and go functionality, as well as steering and lane control assistant, Lane Change Assist and Lane Keeping Assist with side collision prevention that come as part of the Driving Assistant Plus package.

There are other driver assists, too, such as priority warning, wrong-way warning and crossroad traffic warning systems. A larger full-colour head-up display is available as an option, as is a Remote 3D View system that allows you to view the car’s surroundings through your smartphone.

Engines available at launch run the gamut of three petrol and three diesel mills, all matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The range starts with the xDrive20i (there’s also a rear-wheel drive sDrive20i variant in markets outside Europe), powered by a 184 hp/290 Nm 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine.

That same four-pot is fitted on the xDrive30i, but boosted to 252 hp and 350 Nm of torque. On the oil-burning side, there’s the xDrive20d, also powered by a 2.0 litre turbo mill – this time producing 190 hp and 400 Nm. A 3.0 litre straight-six can be found in the xDrive30d, pushing out 265 hp and a whopping 620 Nm.

For the first time, the X3 gets an M Performance variant as seen on the current X4. The M40i, as it is called, makes use of a 3.0 litre turbo petrol straight-six that punches out 360 hp and 500 Nm, enabling it to go from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds. A sport auto gearbox with launch control, a rear-biased all-wheel drive system, specially tuned M Sport suspension and variable sport steering are thrown in.

All models get double-jointed MacPherson strut front and five-link rear suspension, with uprated axle kinematics and electric power steering for better handling, stability and steering feel. Aluminium swivel bearings and lighter tubular anti-roll bars reduce unsprung weight. With the use of plastics and composites, along with an increase use of aluminium, the X3 is now up to 55 kg lighter than before.

The Driving Experience Control switch makes a return and provides drivers with Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport driving modes; 30i, 30d and M40i variants get an extra Sport+ setting. The system also controls the optional Dynamic Damper Control, providing either a sportier or a more comfort-oriented ride.

Lastly, the new X3 comes with a wealth of connectivity options, including Intelligent Emergency Call with Teleservice Accident Assistance that now detects low-speed accidents without the airbags deploying. The BMW Connected service, which works with smartphones and smartwatches, can now also interact with the Amazon Echo home speaker, and there’s also a WiFi hotspot and Apple CarPlay available as options.

There are other features too, including a built-in Microsoft Exchange function that provides Office 365 customers with a secure server for editing emails, calendar entries and contact details, as well as ParkNow parking space booking and On-Street Parking Information (OSPI).




GALLERY: BMW X3 M40i
GALLERY: BMW X3 xDrive30d xLine