Photo Comparison: Old vs. New BMW X3

BMW X3, Featured Posts | July 18th, 2010 by 72
BMW X3 F25 vs X3 E83 Front2 750x500

The second generation BMW X3 was unveiled earlier this week and as expected, BMW opted for an evolutionary design of the midsize premium Sports Activity …

The second generation BMW X3 was unveiled earlier this week and as expected, BMW opted for an evolutionary design of the midsize premium Sports Activity Vehicle. As with any new model, opinions are split, while some of the BMW consumers embraced the visual changes, and especially the technology features, there are others that voiced their opinion in a less positive way.

Our first comparison involved the top three most popular vehicles within the previously mentioned segment, the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and of course, the X3. Again, somewhat expected on a BMW related website, the poll shows the new X3 as the winner, but the overall comments revealed a very close race with the Q5.

Moving away from the normal comparison among usual competitors, we decided to place the two X3 generations side-by-side, in an attempt to better see the visual changes and enhancements.

BMW X3 F25 vs X3 E83 Front 655x247

And the first thing that stands out is the increased dimensions of the F25 model. 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).

This brings the 2011 BMW X3 close to the size of the first generation BMW X5, and automatically moves up a class, leaving the entry level segment to the BMW X1.

The front-end design is far more aggressive on the new X3, with larger air intakes and dominating front-bumper. The front-fascia is more sculpted, with more creases running through and plenty of concave and convex shapes. The “kidneys” are also wider and taller than in the previous design, and this approach aligns the new X3 with the rest of recently unveiled BMW models.

BMW X3 F25 vs X3 E83 Front2 655x178

Most likely due to the increased safety regulations and size of the car, the 2011 X3 sports larger mirrors.

The hood design is a derivative from the X1 and even the 5 Series models, with a very aggressive V-shape design, far more sculpted into the metal, giving the car that “mean” look some were craving for.

While the front-end changes are not easily noticeable from distance, the rear-end design cues make the F25 X3 far more distinctive. From the redesigned LED taillights, and the “sloping” roof, to the rear-bumper and tailgate, the 2011 BMW X3 becomes more visually appealing than its predecessor.


Inside, in our opinion, the interior design has been taken a few notches up the quality and aesthetics ladder. BMW’s latest interior designs sent some of their cues to the new X3 as well, including among others a driver-oriented dashboard, higher-quality materials and trim, built-in 8.8 inc LCD screen and new instrument clusters.


A voting contest between the two will certainly give the new X3 a comfortable win, so we are taking a different approach by posing the following question: has BMW given their best with this new model or were the expectations higher than the offering? In other words, could BMW have done better?

[poll id=”58″] [Photo editing: BimmerToday ]

72 responses to “Photo Comparison: Old vs. New BMW X3”

  1. M5POWER says:

    I’d say the new one looks miles better… But still not nailing it right. The old one looks soo ugly but since it’s a BMW, the engineering etc is just premium. Credits to them for trying but I have a sense of feeling that BMW is doing something else now. Wonder the X4??

    • FreudeKing says:

      Yes, no doubt that the new one is better than the old, but still far from being perfect. The fact that they may be working on an X4 is no excuse to mess another one of their products up/ pay less attention to or effort on.

      • M5POWER says:

        There’s nothing in this world that is perfect. I think among the GL and the Q5, I will still pick the X3… Indeed they may be working on an X4 but I doubt it will be. To be honest when it all comes to BMW Design language then it will become something like this. There may be a reason behind why they design the X3 like this and after 2 nights of sleep, X4 never is the reason. We just have to find out.

        • FreudeKing says:

          Me, too. Although the exterior desgin is far from perfect, I know the X3 will be the best in class when considering other factors like handling(or will it with electric steering? kind of giving BMW a bad reputation!).

  2. Paul says:

    I could be wrong but the F25 headlight cluster looks a wee bit similar to the previous generation Sonata headlights (pre-2011)

  3. s@sh says:

    Yes, this similarity frustrates me. And also they resemble ones from Mercedes GL which is ugly. Square headlight are not traditional to BMW and they doesn’t fit to rounded kidney grille

    • FreudeKing says:

      What do you mean square headlight? Do you mean the rectangular light cover? BMW used to have it on the E36 in the 90’s.

      • FreudeKing says:

        Oh, I just remembered one thing: Isn’t this car designed by the same person who designed the E36 back in the early 90’s???

  4. badger says:

    The new X3 looks so much better compared to the old X3. The new grills are a bit big. But its a huge change and the public will love it.

    • FreudeKing says:

      I think the big grilles are here to stay and it is easy for us to get used to – look at the new 7 Series.

      I just noticed one thing when looking at the front view picture: This car does not have the swollen nose with the plastic bumper extending to the bonnet area unlike the new 5 Series, 7 Series, 5GT and the ugly X1. I think the car would look so much smoother if the bonnet incorporates the grilles like we have on the X5 and X6.

  5. bob says:

    As with every Bangle BMW, it’s best to reserve final judgement until seen in 3D. I imagine that its overall design will look more ‘refined’ if you will, in much the same way that the E70 does vis-a-vis E53.

    • FreudeKing says:

      A good design does not need to be viewed in 3D for people to realise one. We didn’t need to view the Visions Efficient Dynamics Concept and the Coupe Concept in flesh to see that it is a good design.

      Those designs that need to be viewed in flesh to be admired are actually weak design as what you actually do when you are seeing it in flesh is to get a close up view on some parts of the design elements, but when you stand back or look at the car away from spotlights, it will still look weak, just like on a 2D photo.

  6. efoza says:

    A very good design follow from the 5 GT. The GT design being used to create another GT influenced BMW. Good stuff.

    • FreudeKing says:

      I don’t see the similarities. Which part of this thing is from the 5GT?

      5GT is just in a different class from this X3, 5GT is top quality whereas the X3?? I’m not so sure.

    • Doug says:

      Ugh… another one. What the heck does this have to do with the GT? Please, Efozza, explain to me why every single post is abuot the GT. I’m seriously wondering if you were hired as a blog and twitter troll to hype up the GT. Is it seeding GT+BMW for web rankings?

  7. Bryce says:

    I like this photo comparison because it allows us to review different aspects of the vehicle. I really do like the size and rear, but those headlights do not look BMW at all!

  8. viper says:

    better car overall boring

  9. paul says:

    it does look better despite the fact that the interior could have been a little better but the main issue for me is the driving dynamics and no one seems to focus on that…that electric steering is going to wreck the only good thing about the current X3 (i should know i own one)…any uk members check this weeks autocar editors intro…he is spot on

  10. paul says:

    i wil quote “not all bmws have lit our fire lately. (…) the companys priority of making hugely rewarding and great handling cars seems to have shifted a little”

    enough said…bmws lost its mojo….gone soft.

    • FreudeKing says:

      I know, it’s like ” if you want a BMW that handles like a BMW, you need to pay more for packages tha make it handle like what a BMW should!” How ridiculous!

      This stupid electric steering is messing up the brand and product image. No one is going to think that you are more innovative just because you have electric steering that makes your car steer like mini-truck while you a tiny bit of fuel/CO2.

      It’s like Ferrari with the most powerful engine limiting the acceleration of their cars to 10seconds from 0~100km/h because they want to improve their general fuel consumption and CO2. No one is going to buy a Ferrari then!

      • wazon8 says:

        What about huge popularity of 320d and 320i in Europe? This cars are not masters of performance. They handle better than other cars in their classes, but they are still bit boring (due to slowness) to drive. For people buying these BMWs efficiency is important whether you like it or not and paying no attention to these customers would simply be silly. What’s important for me is that still each model has well-balanced chassis and driving it gives more fun than driving any other car in their class. It’s obvious that you have to go to 330i or 335i ‘(for example) to have real pleasure of driving. /btw, have you ever driven 316i e46? Existence of this car is a prove that not for everyone BMWs are all about performance. Taking it and he lowest e90, one can surely say that e90 is huge step forward in terms of performance. The same story goes for each series in their offer. There are reasons for producing 730d, 118d, X1 18d, 520d and so on and only insane car-maker would ignore them. I guess you’re not from Europe, but if will be there, try to assess how many 330i, 550i drive around and then ask yourself whether improving efficiency is wrong path. But still, what BMW offer for this kind of customers is not like buy few packages to have a little fun to drive. You just take car with small engine, so don’t expect from it to close to M.

        • FreudeKing says:

          I drive a diesel BMW myself and I don’t think it is boring to drive at all and I certainly do not regard it as being a slow car. Obviously these cars are not to compete against the 550i’s but they are not slow either.

          My point is not about the speed of the car, it is the handling of the car. I don’t want BMW to ruin its reputation of producing incredibly dynamic and fun to drive cars by putting in technologies that will make BMW drive like VW’s Audi’s. It will be a huge pity. This has nothing to do with engine size.

          • wazon8 says:

            Which BMW does drive like VW or Audi? My point is that there is a lot of exeggeration in opinions spreaded on this forum. No single car up to now disappointed by its driving quality. I’ve got an opportunity to push both 535i and 550i and if one doesn’t find electic powered steering intuitive after some time, I can only feel sorry for him. Moreover, most of reviews (except those written by UK journalists who put Jag XF over any other car) state that new 5-er indeed drives better than any other car in its class and is better than e60, no matter on which aspect you focus. One point of consideration for you is this, how can 5-er lose on its handling when 550i GT with the same chassis and higher centre of gravity achieved higher slalom speed than 550i e60? And the last one is known as great handling car. Anyway, I don’t find evidence for your complaints about losing typical for BMW driving characteristics.

            Agree, even low level models handles great, but they are – at least to me – simply slow. As for diesels, there are numbers of BMWs diesels about which one can get excited. I’ve got 335d and that was great car, same goes for 330d e46 and 530d e39. Nevertheless, such cars as 318d e46, 320d e90 are slow and it’s hard to find a lot of plasure of driving them since you find not much power when exiting corner.

  11. X3 says:

    I wish they were more ambitious and expressive from designing the new X3.

  12. Zeitgeist_md says:

    It looks more like a mid-term modification.

  13. oTTo says:

    I didn’t think it was practically possible, but they did it! The boys at BMW outdid themselves by creating an even uglier X3. The front and the interior look like something Chevrolet would produce back in the eighties (Gizmos unconsidered.) The tail lights look horrible and overdone. The attempted smooth yet aggressive styling is ruined by too much details and lack of imagination. It looks like a love child of Sophia Lauren and Jack Black conceived on a rainy night with lots of booze. The X1; the younger sibling, looks a lot better and more modern inside out, expectations were going more in line with that. A GLK or a Q5 exhibits more refinement in terms of design. I feel sorry for the wasted camouflage tape and Beamer fans’ anticipation!

  14. Overall it lacks the edge of the old one. The headlights and especially the taillights are too big. The grill is also too big and high – probably because of pedestrian collision rules. The side’s flame surfacing on the other hand is great, much better than the old one here.

    • FreudeKing says:

      This pedestrian collision rules excuse for BMW’s poor designs is really unacceptable. Every single BMW’s ugly front end is blamed on collision rules. Please, why then is Audi and Merc able to continue with designing normal looking front ends without swollen noses?

      It is just poor design for BMW. They don’t know what sleek, modern and sharp design means. All they keep in mind is bubbles of fat and being sleepy when designing front ends – look at the 5 Series, X1, …

  15. BA says:

    the overall ext/interior design is OK..i think we were all anticipating something great…
    highly disappointed in the headlights…and can someone please explain to me the splash of wood trim in the passenger’s dash…it’s hideous…it’s has no continuity w/the rest of the wood trim

    • FreudeKing says:

      Absolutely, the interior deigner should eb ashamed of this dash when he looks at the works of the 5 Series and 7 Series. Here’s what I said a few days ago:

      “Another disappointment is the interior. What’s with all these cheap black plastics? That splash of wood in the middle of the dash on the passenger side is TASTELESS! How long will they take to realise that wood brown and black do not go together? This is one huge disappointment considering the amazing jobs that they have done with the 5, 5GT, 7, Z4 interiors. If you are going to insert wood there, at least put a line of alluminium insert in between to lighten things up.
      The centre dash also seems to be using old technology. One full panel of instruments right down and all in black. This is really poor effort.
      This interior dash design is a step in the wrong direction. Have they not received enough complains about the poor interior quality and feel from their current X3?”

  16. paul says:

    and lets not forget bmws obsession with run flats tires! I test drove the new 320d coup and the ride was completly ruined because of the tires. Noisy as hell and hard as rock…but at least the steering still had good balance and feel. nice weight. the car was only let down by poor quality interior (it was pretty basic spec) and the tires. My point is bmw just doesnt seem to listen to its customers. How many people have complained about runflats and electric steer?? and they just keep pushing it. what happened to the “customer is always right”?

  17. FreudeKing says:

    I think the interior of the 3 is pretty nice provided you do not order yours black with a silver/aluminium trim. The run flats are terrible and they just won’t listen, electric steering is starting to be an irritation I see.

    BMW thinks they are so mighty that their customers will eat what they dish. So let’s see. They should actually do a survey on how many customers left to Audi and Merc and Lexus due to RFT, ES, Ugly, hideous designs, poor ride quality etc. They would be surprised how many sales they are pushing away with their stupid lack of options and ears.

    • kcsnyud says:

      A. that’s not true, that’s just ur rant on this.
      B. I’m starting to get tired of ur constant bmw bashing
      C. Why dont we getv 2 the topic of the deisgns, it seems like 4 u that all of its deisgns are terrible
      D. I’m not a fanboy
      E. Buy a merc or audi. That simple

      • FreudeKing says:

        A. I know many customers that have turned away from owning a BMW due to considerably high ownership costs of runflat tyres when compared to Audi and Merc equivalents. The worst one was having to change his BMW 3 Series tyres after just 29000km, which costed her an extra 5% of the car’s cost in just three years. She also used to own BMWs in the past and the average life that a conventional tyre has is about 80000km. As many people own these cars as company cars/cars bought from their allowances, which they change every 3-5 years, having to change tyres is a pretty negative factor as it slaps on a further 5 ~ 10% on owndership costs within this period, whereas in the past, this problem would have been passed onto the second owner.

        B. This is not bashing BMW, it is just talking sense and suggesting ways to improve. It is not bashing because my comments are justified.

        C. I have mentioned before that I love the BMW VED, BMW 1 Series Coupe, 3 Convertible and Coupe, X5, X6, 5GT. I give credit where it is due.

        D. I am a fan boy, but one that is objective!

        E. Why would I buy Merc or Audi when BMW is the best. But the best is still far from being perfect. Only if BMW constantly strive for perfection, will it remain the best.

        Get it? Simple this side, too!

        • kcsnyud says:

          Well according 2 u this is how they should improve:

          1. Get rid of everything u dont like (x3, x1, 5er, 6er, 7er)
          2. Do everything audi does (platform sharing with audi)
          3. Why bother, bmw is crap.
          4. Forget this, audi and merc should just buy them.

          • FreudeKing says:

            1. not get rid of, imporve the exterior design and quality – they have correctly identified markets that have high demand from consumers, but they missed out on the opportunity by making something less than remarkable. Audi and Merc will always come and fill in.

            2. If you read my precious comments, you would know that I am completely against platform sharing with VW, which is sub-premium. I believe in cars that have individual character.

            3. BMW is not crap, some of their new designs are crap.

            4. I admire BMW’s independence. This is what makes the BMW Group so great.

            As I said before, I don’t bash, I make objective comments as a fan. You on the other hand do not get what I am sayign and misunderstand me as bashing BMW all the time.

    • M5POWER says:

      I’m sorry but that’s just your rant on this. If you think BMW is going really bad, it’s time to go to Audi or Mercedes. To be honest with all of you, I really do like Mercedes some time ago but I just don’t like the way they are nowadays. Theirs cars are awfully designed in my opinion. I have never liked Audi ever in my life…

      One things that caught me is when you say ”poor ride quality”. BMW has NEVER been the best or kind of good in ride quality. You argument on that is totally invalid. If you want real good ride quality, Mercedes is your answer then. Everybody will say that!

      Car design is no longer the best thing to talk about nowadays. Every people have their own opinion of things, and yet BMW is still the best for me.

      • FreudeKing says:

        I agree, Merc design is a bit bland nowadays. Audi is just “Absolute, Utter, Direct Imitations” – just a VW. I will not buy any of those two.

        Ride quality does not only refer to comfort, it refers to the connection and engagement with the road as well. It is one thing to have a good feedback from the road and another to feel like the car has wooden wheels with no suspension.

        There are clear strong and weak designs. Weak designs are normally ones that turn most people away. Of course you will always get people who like clearly inferior stuff just to be different, especially with art where you cannot really argue.

  18. Wooo hoo. says:

    Go big or go home… X5/6..anything else is compromise

  19. Brett says:

    I like it, but I think that BMW should add a larger vehicle to the X lineup, such as an X8, to counter the American-made Escalade, which runs the large SUV segment.

  20. kcsnyud says:

    @Freudeking- I think if u really want them to improve, u should go and email them or something. Chances are, they dont even read this blog. I like ur ideas and all, but it was just that it sounded like constant bmw bashing. Sorry. This kind of thing i always see on tmobile blogs and stuff like that, so…

    i think the x3 looks too much like a grown up x1, kind of seems useless to even have it in the lineup…

    • Wooo hoo. says:

      …and the X1 looks like a 1er on ‘roids…. just too small. IMHO, only the X5 and X6 look good, with the X6 edging out the X5.

    • FreudeKing says:

      @kcsnyud. remember King with a CAPITAL “K”.

      The thing is: e-mailing them directly might not have the desired effect as it is human nature to always defend themselves and resist change. However, if many bloggers are feeling the same way about a certain thing, it is a clear reflection of a demand for change. This is therefore a more effective way in my opinion.

      I am sure BMW employees read this blog, at least if they are passionate about the company that they work for. As this is one of the most informative sites about BMW, it is hard to imagine that they do not know about it. If they don’t care, then I think they should not be working for BMW as there are many well qualified and passionate people out there wanting to work for BMW, and those employees add most value to the company.

      Furthermore, I am sure you know that couples aways quarrel, be it your girlfriend / wife. They quarrel not because they hate eachother, but becasue they love eachother so much that they want the other to be perfect in their own minds. Same situation here.

      • kcsnyud says:

        Then do us a favor, and tell bm if they dont hurry up with a supercar theyve lost their mind. Seriously i dont care for suvs anyway, like i said.

  21. Russ says:

    It is much better, more beefy looking and more in line with the Audi Q5 which, in my opinion, has set the standard for SUV’s in this size class.

  22. german says:

    The New One is So beautiful, so connected, plus the interior is superb. Right now, this is the right competitor for Audi’s Q5. Congratulations to Koplen for his design, people buying this SAV since October 2010, will love it!!!

  23. badger says:

    if i had to choice between the Q5, GLK, etc…this X3 just looks so amazing and the interior is a huge step up. I would definetly buy this car!

  24. Bimmer 4ever says:

    are you people high?!?! the new x3 is horrible, it looks nothing like a german car should look, I would take the old x3 over this piece of crap any day. The new x3 looks to be like a stupid American of Japanese SUV the front is way to high and bulky, to many curves and not enough straight lines.

  25. Jon says:

    I see the manual shifter on your photos of the new X3 but the manual transmission is NOT available for the North American any longer>> this sucks! !

    BMW should include the manual either in the 3.5 gas or 3.0 litre diesel version. I currently own a manual X3 but I will refuse to buy a new X3 with an automatic. Please comment.

  26. Livan says:

    I hope the new X3 comes with better break system than the old one.My X3 was giving us endless problems with the breaks from day ONE .After changing all possible components,eventualy my X3 is breaking properly (so far). So much for breaks….

  27. Tyler says:

    BMW… the German Honda – you can’t afford Audi.

    • Heddlu_Cymru M5 says:

      Eh? I cannot see BMW as a German Honda. In fact, all three German giants are expensive. If you can afford a BMW, you surely can afford an Audi. Bollocks!

      • Lame says:

        Correction – If you cannot afford a BMW, go buy an Audi, at least Audi is a VW, so it is still better than a non-German car.

  28. LittleGirl says:

    Why, oh why did they make it larger? I love many things about my current X3 and relatively small size for an SUV is one of them. As for the re-styling I am not impressed. This is a big disappointment.

  29. Cjme says:

    We can argue about the design for a long time,
    it’s not so bad , but there is one thing I don’t see in this forum is
    discussions about the price compared to the size???
    Is it me or what?
    a car of that size close to 50 k$ with decent and I say just decent options is way to expensive for what it is ?
    a jeep grand Cherokee 40k$ fully equipped, a Tahoe loaded for 46k$ ,….and you can go on and on even the Audi q5 is not so bad compare to the x3
    In fact you can find decent x5 around 55k$, it looks like a bargain

  30.  The old X3 was a fine car but the new one absolutely blows the first generation away. The 1st gen. X3 interior is very outdated looking and full of hard plastics and such. The new one is a major step up. The new X3 outdoes the old in almost every way, anyone who thinks otherwise does not know what they’re talking about.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *