With sales exceeding expectations, the new BMW X3 is shaping to become, in terms of sales, a high-volume car for BMW. Produced at the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina, the new revamped X3 premium SAV aims to regain the segment lead dominated in 2010 by the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLK.

In the US, the top-mode is the 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i which features BMW’s newest turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 “N55” engine combining direct fuel injection, twin-scroll turbo technology and Valvetronic. The N55 engine develops a maximum output of 300 hp at 5,800 rpm, with peak torque of 300 lb-ft available all the way from 1,200–5,000 rpm. Redline is 7,000 rpm.

This engine enables the X3 xDrive35i to sprint from 0 to 60mph in just 5.5 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 150mph when fitted with the optional Sport Package.

The second variant offered on US soil, the X3 xDrive28i produces 240 horsepower and 221 lb-feet of torque. The engine is matted to the ZF 8-speed automatic transmission that not only offers smooth shifting, but also increased fuel efficiency. Official 0 to 60 mph is just under 7 seconds.

The new model was built under the codename F25 and while maintaining the “boxy” look, the 2011 X3 is a half-inch taller, 3.4 inches longer and 1.1 inches wider than the current model, aligning in size with the first generation BMW X5. The X3 sports flared wheel arches and more aggressive design cues. The dynamic side creases around the fenders are becoming a common trait in recent models.

Inside, the second generation X3 corrects some of the shortcomings seen in previous model, and some of these changes were based on customer’s feedback. The door panels are fully upholstered with higher quality leather, contrast stitching and increased quality of craftsmanship. More wood trim has been added giving the car a more premium look. The center console also grew in size and sports some of the controls seen in the X5 with the now usual orange backlit.

To remain competitive in a segment dominated last year by the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK, BMW of North America set a starting price for the xDrive28i at $37,625, approximately $2,000 below the 2010 model, and also with more standard equipment including Bluetooth and an iPod/USB interface. The top-model with TwinPower starts at $41,925.