BMW's all-new X3 SUV is ready to battle Audi and Mercedes

BMW X3 2018BMWThe 2018 BMW X3.

On Monday, BMW unveiled the all-new 2018 X3 SUV at its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Since its introduction in 2003, the X3 has developed into one of BMW’s most important models.

Now, BMW has rearmed with an all-new third generation X3.

Once upon a time, success for a German luxury brand required a world-class compact sedan. Fortunately for BMW, the 3-Series has been the gold standard in a category for the better part of four decades.

These days, things have changed. The entry point into German luxury for most buyers is no longer through sedans, but rather through compact SUVs. This is reflected in the fact sales of the 3 Series has been in persistent decline for years while the X3 has experienced double-digit growth even though the second-generation model has been around for the better part of a decade.

Hence the importance of having an adequate rival to Audi’s new Q5, Mercedes’ GLC, and Porsche’s Macan.

So what’s new with the X3?

First, the third generation model gets all new sheet metal with same design language as the smaller X1 and larger X5. At the same time, BMW has improved the X3’s aerodynamic properties with better-regulated air flow around the car using active grille shudders, underbody cladding, and a rear spoiler. Underneath its skin, the X3’s chassis has been re-engineered to reduce unsprung mass and its wheelbase extended to reach perfect 50-50 weight distribution.

Power for the base X3 will come from a 248 horsepower, 2.0 litre TwinPower turbocharged inline-four-cylinder engine. Mated to an eight-speed automatic, BMW claims the X3 can make the sprint to 60mph from a standstill in 6.0 seconds and reach a top speed of 130.

Higher grade X3s can opt for a 3.0 litre, 335 horsepower turbocharged inline-six-cylinder unit. In performance “M” spec, BMW says the new X3 can the 0-60 mph run in just 4.6 seconds and hit a top speed of 155 mph.

Inside, the cabin, the X3 gets the latest goodies from BMW’s high-tech bag of tricks. This includes a larger, full-colour heads-up display as well as a 10.25-inch touchscreen running the latest version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. In addition, the X3 gets BMW’s gesture control technology that will allow passengers to answer phone calls and adjust the volume of the radio with a wave of the hand or twirl of the finger.

The new X3 also get BMW’s latest driver’s assistance and crash prevention technology. This includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, cross traffic alert, and frontal collision mitigation.

Official pricing for the 2018 BMW X3 will be announced at a later date. The third generation is expected to hit US showrooms in November.

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