Cape Times

BMW unveils its third-gen X3, to be built in SA


THE THIRD generation of BMW’s X3 SUV might not look radically different to its predecesso­r, but the latest redesign does bring the Sports Utility Vehicle, or Sports Activity Vehicle as the salesman will insist on calling it, bang up to date on the technologi­cal front and there’s also an M40i performanc­e variant on offer

The newcomer is of special significan­ce to South Africa as it will be produced at BMW’s local plant in Rosslyn, for both local consumptio­n and export, while the 3 Series sedan range will in future be imported. Expect the new X3 to go on sale here in November.

Although appearing to be similar in size to its predecesso­r, the new X3 is up to 55kg lighter, thanks to the more liberal use of aluminium, and BMW claims to have achieved class-leading aerodynami­cs.

This X3 also enters the world of semi-automated driving, with optional gadgets like Active Cruise Control that can bring the car to a halt and pull off automatica­lly in dense traffic, and the Driving Assistant Plus pack with steering assistance and cross-traffic warning.

Furthermor­e, BMW claims that the new X3 will “seamlessly integrate into the owner’s digital life” with a cloud-based system that can, for instance, pick up addresses from your smartphone’s calendar entries and integrate them into the navigation system and then, well ahead of time, it’ll even calculate your ideal time of departure.

Buyers will be able to order new gadgets handme-downed from the 5 and 7 Series, including BMW’s digital Display Key, an upgraded infotainme­nt system with gesture control and a new Head-Up Display system that’s said to be unrivalled in terms of graphics and resolution.

The X3 also ups the ante on the performanc­e front with the M40i flagship. Fitted with a version of BMW’s 3-litre six-cylinder turbopetro­l engine that’s good for 265kW and 500Nm, the M40i will allegedly sprint from 0-100km/h in just 4.8 seconds.

The other petrol variants are fitted with a 2-litre turbopetro­l tuned to 185kW and 350Nm in the xDrive30i and 135kW/290Nm in xDrive20i and sDrive20i models. Your diesel selection will be between a 195kW/620Nm 3-litre, six-cylinder unit and a 140kW/400Nm 2-litre four-pot.

All engines are mated to eight-speed automatic transmissi­ons and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system features in all but the sDrive20i petrol variant, which is rear-wheel driven.

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