It feels as if the previous F25-generation BMW X3 debuts a century ago. While 2011, when it debuted, wasn’t actually that long ago, it sure feels it. The F25-gen X3 feels positively ancient by now. Especially when you compare it to its much newer competition, including the very fresh Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class and high-tech Audi Q5. So BMW’s midsize SUV was in desperate need of an update. Thankfully, one came just in time. Welcome the new, G01-generation BMW X3.
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For 2018, the X3 is all new, featuring a completely new design language, all-new interior, a new chassis, new engines and new technology. This might be the most comprehensive overhaul of a BMW in quite some time. I think it’s going to do quite well with its customers.
The biggest complaint about the newest generation BMW 5 Series, which recently debuted earlier this year, is its design change, or lack thereof, from its predecessor. The new 5er just doesn’t look that much different from the car it replaces. Customers notice this and are a bit lukewarm on the 5er. The new BMW X3 won’t have that issue. It looks all-new and shares almost no similarities to the car it replaces.
In terms of exterior design, it looks very much like a modern BMW. All of the elements of BMW’s new design language are there but there’s some additional aggression that some of its other cars don’t have. But it’s still very distinctly an X3. For instance, the way the shoulder line kicks upward toward the Hofmeister Kink is classic X3. However, the Hofmeister itself is different and looks more aggressive. The now-traditional BMW Air Breather behind the front wheel arch is also angrier than on most BMWs and creates a body line down the side of the car. It’s just far more muscular looking than the outgoing X3.
At the front, it’s nice to see BMW ditch the connected headlights/Kidney Grilles. That look was interesting when it first debuted on the F30 3 Series, but it’s starting to get old. It’s nice to see separate units now. The grilles are a bit big and look like big nostrils, but it’s still a handsome mug and looks better than before.
BMW X3 M40i
Out back, BMW refreshed the taillights quite a bit and they now more prominently feature BMW’s traditional “L” shape, rather than the little “Thor’s Hammers” of the old car. They look better, more fluid and more exciting. There’s also a really nice spot where the shoulder line goes over the rear wheel arch and creates some muscular rear haunches. It makes the X3 look like it’s about to take on some Mad Max-style desert running, even though it will predominantly be taking on shopping mall parking lots.
The interior of the all-new BMW X3 follows BMW tradition with its driver-focused and ergonomically optimized cockpit layout and carries over many aspects of the car’s exterior design. For instance, hexagonal forms and precise, sloping edges also play a central role in the interior. The interior as a whole displays exceptional material quality, fit, and finish, with carefully thought ergonomics. One example here is the storage concept, which offers more storage space than ever before and ensures it is easier to access.
The all-new BMW X3 comes standard with several new, comfort enhancing features not offered on its predecessor. These include 3-zone automatic climate control, which adds separate temperature controls for the rear compartment to those for the driver and front passenger. To enhance rear compartment comfort, the angle of the standard 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat backrests can be adjusted individually and through various stages thanks to the standard cargo function. This feature also allows the backrests to be released remotely from the load compartment, which expands the standard load capacity of 28.7 ft3 to 62.7 ft3.
Newly available convenient functions include front ventilated seats for driver and front passenger to maximize comfort on warm days. Customers can also give the interior a roomier feel with the 9.8-inch longer panoramic glass moonroof.
In BMW X3 M40i-trim, the M Performance variant similar to the X4 M40i, it looks seriously aggressive. This is the small, fast SUV we’ve wanted from BMW for awhile. While its X4 sibling can look a bit frumpy, this looks good and exciting. Its proportions are right, its styling works with the aggressive flares and wheels and it even looks good as low as it is.
Though, I think I might be blaspheming a bit, as I think it actually looks better in standard X-Line trim. It looks good as just a rugged little crossover and more in keeping with its design language. Both look good, the standard car and M40i, but I actually think I prefer the looks of the standard car (Am I getting old?). Though, there will be an M Sport package for the standard car, if you want the looks but can’t afford the go-power.
BMW X3 Design Process
Under the skin lies a variant of BMW’s new scalable lightweight architecture. The new X3 is lighter than before, stiffer than before and still maintains its perfect 50/50 weight distribution. There’s also the latest version of BMW’s intelligent xDrive all-wheel drive system. It’s better than ever before and should actually allow it to have some fun in the dirt and mud. Just don’t expect it to be a proper off-roader, this is a small crossover after all.
Despite using the same double-joint, spring/strut front axle and a five-link rear suspension setup, BMW claims the new X3 will be far more dynamic than before. A lot of it has to do with the better chassis and steering but BMW also claims it has to do with the reduction in unsprung mass. Aluminum swivel bearings and lighter tubular anti-roll bars make it feel lighter on its feet and more agile. It also has improved axle kinematics and a revised electric power steering.
BMW X3 xLine
By far and away, the largest complaint of the previous-gen X3 was its steering, which felt gluey and disconnected. However, modern BMW steering is getting better, as evidenced with the new G30 5 Series, so we’re expecting BMW’s new enhancements to work well.
BMW’s typical Driving Dynamics Control toggle is present in the new X3, as is the brand’s new Adaptive Mode. The latter bit debuted on the 7 Series and allows the car to adapt its driver settings based on how you’re driving. It works pretty well, actually, but I’m a fan of just sticking the car in Sport Mode.
Things should really get exciting with the BMW X3 M40i. Under its hood lies a variant of BMW’s B58 3.0 liter turbocharged I6 engine, similar to what’s in the BMW M240i. However, where the M240i has 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, the X3 M40i gets 355 hp and the same amount of torque. It’s paired with BMW’s ZF-sourced, sport-tuned eight-speed automatic transmission and a more performance oriented xDrive system. According to BMW, it can get from 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds, making it the fastest car in its class.
Stiffer suspension and more sport tuned damping, along with bigger M Sport brakes, should make the X3 M40i handle and stop as well as it goes. We’re not expecting an M3 but it could be a very exciting little SUV.
Under the hood of the standard BMW X3 xDrive30i will be a variant of BMW’s B46B engine. So it will pack a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-pot that makes a still healthy 248 hp and 258 b-ft of torque. BMW claims a 0-60 mph time of 6 seconds flat for the X3 xDrive30i, which is pretty good, if unspectacular. More than enough for normal folks, though.
While most people will never take their X3s anywhere near anything that isn’t pavement, BMW does claim it can handle some rugged behavior and seems proud of showing it off. According to the official info, the new BMW X3 has eight inches of ground clearance in standard trim, which is only two inches less than the current-gen Jeep Grand Cherokee. That’s pretty impressive. It also boasts a 23.1 degree approach angle and 21.4 degree departure angle, both within just a few degrees of said Grand Cherokee. Of course, I’m not saying that an X3 can off-road anywhere near as well as a Grand Cherokee, but it’s more capable that many may think. So if the family decides to go camping or drive in some heavy snow, the BMW X3 will handle almost anything within reason that they throw at it.
But what most people will prioritize and use is the X3’s new technology. Packing the same generation of iDrive as the BMW 5 Series, the X3 allows front passengers to control the infotainment system with the traditional rotary dial, touchscreen capability or even optional Gesture Control. It also gets all of the same connectivity and safety features as BMW’s best vehicles. That’s the sort of stuff customers really want to know about. While most enthusiasts just want to know how it drives, the customers care about the tech. Fortunately for them, the X3 is loaded.
We have high hopes for the BMW X3. It’s a handsome car that looks far different than before and, thankfully, better than before. It also gets great new engines, new technology, a lightweight chassis, revised suspension and steering and a more upscale feel. It’s an entirely new car and one we’re excited to drive. Customers will probably love it as well.
The all-new 2018 BMW X3 will be available at certified BMW Centers this November with pricing to be announced closer to market launch.