Very unexpected and unusual of BMW to allow automotive journalists to test drive a car prior to its unveiling, but selected journalists in Europe had the opportunity to spend some time behind the wheel of a camouflaged 2011 BMW X3.
And here are some new things that we have learned. The new F25 BMW X3 will come only in an all-wheel-drive flavor. Initially, the 2011 X3 will be offered with an 184 horsepower diesel engine and the 3.0 liter turbocharged petrol engine with 306 horsepower.
The new X3 has a striking resemblance to its big brother, the X5 SAV, and the similarities are even more noticeable inside the cabin. Unfortunately, the interior design was covered with the usual camouflage, and no dashboard photos were allowed.
With the new F25 platform, the 2011 BMW X3 uses many components from both the 3 Series and 5 Series. The compact SAV grew in size 8 centimeters long, 3 cm wide and 1.2 cm in height. The wheelbase was also extended by 9 cm.
In addition, the trunk volume has been increased by 70 liters up to 550, and the rear seats also benefit from a larger space, including more legroom. A less bulky transmission tunnel and lower ground facilitate better accessibility for rear passengers.
Despite the dimensions increase, the new BMW X3 offers safety improvements and increased protection of pedestrians, since there is now a greater distance between the hood and engine, and the other mechanical elements that surround.
At the initial launch, there are only two engines available, the 2.0 diesel 184 horsepower (xDrive20d), which lowers consumption by 15%, and the 3.0 six-cylinder petrol (xDrive35i), with 306 hp and 400 Nm peak torque. The latter has gone from using a twin-turbocharged to one turbo(N55 engine), with clear advantages in performance: it gives the same power and it uses 9% less fuel.
Gradually, the range will be expanded with new engines. First, a six-cylinder petrol engine with 256 hp (xDrive28i) launching in January next year. Later in Spring, another six-cylinder diesel with around 260 hp (xDrive30d) will appear. By the fall, the xDrive35d with 306 horsepower will be launched as well.
The entry level models will use a new 4-cylinder petrol powerplant which is not available until late 2011 or early 2012.
All engines will be coupled with the excellent ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox. Only the four cylinders will have the option of being matted to manual six-speed transmissions.
EfficientDynamics is featured in all these models, incorporating Start-Stop system as standard.
The test drive conducted by Elmundo.es took place aboard the 2011 BMW X3 35i equipped with two interesting options: one, the adaptive chassis, which is offered for the first time in this model, and other, a sports gearbox, a variant of the eight-speed automatic transmission, which is faster in performance and features steering wheel paddles for manual sequential use.
For its part, the chassis has three levels of adaptive functions (Normal, Sport and Sport +); that selection acts on the damping firmness, hardness and the immediacy of throttle response.
The new X3 driving behavior gains in comfort and precision. Now, the rear suspension consists of five arms and. According to the same folks, the driving feel is very nice, with a variable electromechanical steering gear ratios that filter out irregularities.
Despite the increased size and greater demands on safety, the new X3 is also between 20 and 25 kilograms lighter, and the torsional rigidity of the body is higher.
Ultimately, all these aspects make for a car that illustrates the best compromise between stability and comfort for the occupants.
The current X3 will cease production at the Austrian Graz plant in late July, and the new model will be built exclusively at the Spartanburg, SC plant, with an initial capacity of 160,000 units per year that can reach 250,000.[Source: Elmundo ]