Since the turn of the century, more and more manufacturers have explored the SUV and off-road market. And if you have ever tried to take a car with low ground clearance over a bumpy back road on the way to a favourite fishing spot or to the ski field, you will know why. Based on the very popular 3-series, the X3 is BMW’s excursion into the SUV market.
New for 2011, the BMW X3 has the latest in Intelligent Four-Wheel-Drive, so the xDrive in the X3 name is all about traction and ability. Easy to drive, you’ll find the BMW X3 is well capable of taking you most places that you want to go, and is able to provide any driver with a lot of fun and practicality. It isn’t a serious bush-basher, as ground clearance is about 20 cm, which is adequate for driving across paddocks or down rough roads, but it would not really be suitable for, say, river crossings or forestry tracks.
The all-wheel drive, combined with the electronic traction control, gives the BMW X3 excellent grip, both on and off road, while the limited slip differential handles mud and gravel with ease. When reviewed, the dynamic stability control worked brilliantly on the highway and on the back roads, and hill descent control is an added safety bonus – especially for the more nervous driver who dislikes going down steep hills at speed. ABS braking with cornering brake control, brake assist and EBD make the BMW X3 stop smartly and safely. A snappy chassis and superior grip means that the BMW X3 can be driven quickly like a sports car.
Inside the 2011 BMW X3, the cabin is reminiscent of the standard 3-series car. Simple ergonomic excellence, and a more futuristic cabin feel, make the X3 satisfying to pilot. Two 12 volt power outlets, electronically adjustable bucket front seats with driver’s side memory and an MP3-compatible CD player are some of the comfort and convenience features provided inside the BMW X3. Passenger and driver comfort is taken care of with a quiet new ventilation/air-conditioning system. A lengthy options list means that you can kit the X3 out with all the ‘bells and whistles’ you desire. Available on any X3 model, is the M Sport package that’s $4800 on the 20d, $4100 on the 28i and just $3000 on the 30d. The M Sport package boasts things like the sport suspension, sports seats, leather M wheel and M styling enhancements. Other options include dynamic driving control, performance control, metallic paint, head-up display, internet functionality and a rear-view camera with a birds-eye view. This last feature combines wide-angle cameras under the wing mirrors with the vision from the rear camera to paint a panoramic view of what’s behind and beside you in the centre display. Adaptive bi-xenon headlights, plus a panorama roof, alarm and satellite-navigation come as excellent features. There are also a range of top audio options up to and including a 16-speaker, 600W unit.
Safety of all occupants (maximum of five) is provided for with pre-tensioned seat belts front and back, and a full set of airbags. Speaking of top safety features, there are excellent onboard electronics that are spear-headed by the fantastic head-up display. You’ll notice that the latest BMW X3 has plenty of space, and can swallow 1600 litres of luggage with ease. This is at the top of its class. Slightly larger than its outgoing model, the vehicle gains 79 mm in length, 128 mm in width and 12.7 mm in height. Also useful are the 40/20/40 split folding rear seats.
Taking the BMW X3 off the rough back roads and to a place where you can legally test its performance, you will find that this X3 is surprisingly zesty for an SUV. In fact, the 2011 BMW X3 has performance that sits it at the top of the ladder. Let’s take a look:
The BMW 20d is powered by the latest 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel with 135kW and 380Nm. BMW can usually be relied upon for their performance data, and the claimed 0-100 km/h time of 8.5 seconds should become reality for the proud new owner who likes to snake it out their driveway. What is exceptional is the BMW 20d combined-cycle fuel economy figure of 5.6 litres/100 km.
Like more performance? Then the BMW X3 28i should keep your right foot satisfied. The 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine with 190 kW and 310 Nm gives plenty of action at the lights, pulling out to pass and towing the boat. Even Holden’s 3.0 direct-injected SIDI V6 will be left short of breath– the BMW straight six boasts 20 Nm more torque!
The flagship, for now, is the suave BMW X3 30d. Exceptionally flexible and grunty, the 3.0-litre straight-six turbo-diesel boasts 190 kW and a monstrous 560Nm. BMW says that the 0-100 dash can be dispatched in a meagre 6.2 seconds – a mere moment in time. It also offers a combined-cycle fuel economy figure of 6.0 litres/100 km.
All three new BMW X3 models get an eight-speed automatic transmission. And towing capacity, across the entire range is a healthy, and practical, 2 tonnes.
When you review the exterior, the new BMW X3 resembles a 3-series station wagon that has done a body building course. The lines and details are simple and uncluttered, giving it a modest and understated appearance. However you can’t hide the sporty, low-profile lines, chunky side skirts and snazzy alloys. A handy roof rack blends very nicely in with the main body shape, much more harmoniously than after-market roof racks fitted to regular BMW sedans and saloons. Chrome trim makes a nice subtle touch, especially on silver/grey or black models. At the front, the BMW X3 has a more rounded and aerodynamic nose – hence the lower fuel consumption figures.
Top marks to BMW. They’ve really got it right with this one. And all in all, the BMW X3 is a very worthy competitor in the SUV market – offering technical excellence and comfort to all its lucky owners.
The current model series includes the:
For any more information on the BMW X3, or for that matter any other new car, contact one of our friendly consultants on 1300 303 181. If you’d like some fleet discount pricing (yes even for private buyers!), we can submit vehicle quote requests out to our national network of BMW dealers and come back with pricing within 24 hours. Private Fleet – car buying made easy!
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