Next in line to text the new 2011 BMW X3 are our friends over at Kilometer Magazine and their first impressions align with the other publications: “First impressions are important, and even though we drove pre-production mules —complete with black-and-white paisley camo — it’s very clear the next X3 is set to take on a full crop of worthy competitors when it starts rolling out of the Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant after the turn of the year. ”
Let’s jump into their review.
For 2011, the X3 grows up a bit, finally coming into its own as a true compact SUV instead of a jacked-up station wagon. Outright agility — while still very much important to the essence of any BMW — takes a back seat to, well, back seat comfort, cargo space, ride quality and general sophistication. Think of the next X3 as a leaner, lighter, less expensive X5 and you’ll get idea.
An increase in virtually every critical dimension is also partly to credit for taking the new model a couple rungs up on the compact SUV ladder, especially the additional 86 mm of track width that push the wheels further apart for a more planted feel. The greenhouse has been widened as well, adding 40 mm of front shoulder room and 20 mm to the rear, eliminating the tall and narrow feel of the original X3 cockpit. Overall length has grown by 80 mm — to a total of 2810 mm — on a 15 mm longer wheelbase. The growth is modest, but it’s in all the right places. Seeing the old model alongside the new, it’s hard to spot the dimensional changes; and yet somehow the awkward, Converse-hightop-like proportions seem to be gone.
Despite going on a diet, the new X3 is considerably stiffer than the outgoing model. This additional structural rigidity, which was immediately noticeable on our rural backroads drive, gave the chassis engineers greater latitude in tuning the suspension for improved passenger comfort. The setup is essentially the same as the current 3-series wagon with xDrive — MacPherson struts up front, multi-link in the rear — but geometrically optimized and tuned specifically for Sport Activity duty.