By the end of this month, BMW will unveil the second generation of their mid-compact Sports Activity Vehicle: BMW X3. Not an exciting model when compared to the recently unveiled 5 Series or Gran Coupe Concept, but the X3 continues to play an important role in BMW’s strategy and plans for the premium compact SUV/SAV market.
In 2004, U.S. sales accounted for 34,604 units, but in the following years X3 sales have dropped to a fraction of that. While the recession can easily be blamed for last year’s dismal sales performance (just 6,067 X3s were sold in the U.S. last year), even 2008 proved problematic; as BMW struggled to move just 17,622 of the entry level SUVs into garages across America.
With new competition from Audi Q5 and the latest Mercedes GLK, BMW needs a winner on their hands, especially a strong contender that cannot only retain its current customers, but more important, gain new ones.
The mid Premium SAV has recently entered the final evaluation phase and several prototypes are being tested on U.S. soil. While the first generation X3 was assembled in Austria by Magna Steyr automaker, the new F25 model joins the X-family at their Spartanburg plant in South Carolina where the spy photo above was snapped.
The F25 X3 also previews the next generation 3 Series platform, and in the X3, it measures 15.15 feet in length, two inches longer than the current model.
Design wise, the 2011 BMW X3 was rumored to be moving from the “boxy” shape and sharp corners to more rounded design lines and a sleeker look. Judging by this spy photo, the car still seems to maintain some of these “boxy” lines, but it brings the F25 closer to the first generation X3.
The “kicked-up” window line that first saw the daylight in the X3 will be again evident and it will be seen as an X3 characteristic, a design element that will be associated with the model.
While sitting higher than the X1, the new X3 seems to have inherited some of the features from the new entry-level compact SAV, mostly around the front-fascia.
For the North American market, BMW will bring the xDrive28i and xDrive35i models. A diesel model, xDrive35d, is rumored to appear in the future as well.
European sales begin late this year and the 2011 X3 will make its official debut at the Paris Motor Show in October.
[Photo Source: Palbay for Germancarforum ]