In 2004 BMW introduced the small, premium Sports Activity Vehicle with all-road capability and driving dynamics. The first generation X3 became a best seller both in the United States and Europe. Through its lifecycle, over 600,000 X3s have been sold worldwide with 150,000 sold in the USA. Subsequently, several competitors have entered the segment.
The 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, SC 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 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 grille, giving the X3 a bold presence.
The twin round headlights combined with the round foglamps 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.
The profile of the new 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 tail lights, 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.
Dimensions, 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).
The horizontal lines of the instrument panel accentuate the width of the interior. The driver-orientated cockpit is emphasized by the asymmetric center console. The Central Display of the optional navigation system with fourth generation BMW iDrive is 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 provides outstanding visibility. The three rear seats offer comfort for long distances and 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 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
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
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.
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.
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, AWD
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.
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.
BMW ConnectedDrive comprises all 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 Spartanburg
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. The all-new X3 is due to arrive in US showrooms by the end of 2010.