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2018 BMW X3: The Sports Activity Vehicle

BMW has rolled out the all-new 2018 X3 SUV, Crossover, Thingo. To me, this thing looks too small, like BMW tried to cram all their design notes and features from their other SUVs, Crossovers, Thingos onto a way too small canvas. It’s sort of like when you see someone with eyes that are really big or a smile that seems to extend out beyond their ears. It’s sort of disconcerting.

And that’s not to say BMW won’t sell a boatload of these things. They will. And they’ll likely sell a lot of them to urban-dwelling yuppie types where space (parking and otherwise) is limited and style counts for a lot.

Design Language

This is BMW’s third generation of the X3 premium compact crossover, or Sports Activity Vehicle as they pretentiously call it. The exterior dimensions are largely unchanged from the previous model, but the wheelbase has been lengthened 2.2-inches, and it boasts a 50:50 weight distribution between the front and rear axle. The nose features a “three-dimensional” kidney grille and the fog lights have a hexagonal design. There are optional Adaptive LED and Icon Adaptive Full LED Headlights, if you want them. Out back, the redesigned taillight housings also show off a three-dimensional look; a downward-sloping roof spoiler and twin exhaust tailpipes add to the “muscular appearance.”

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2018 BMW X3 with xLine design elements. Photo: BMW of North America, LLC.

xLine Elements

The xLine design stuff is now standard on the X3 with numerous trim elements in Satin aluminum and Silver matte, along with 18-inch Y-Spoke wheels. On the interior, the driver and front passenger get standard sport seats with power adjustable side bolsters, and an anthracite headliner. There’s an optional Luxury Package that’s available for the first time in the X3 model range. This has goodies like chrome kidney grille bars, two-tone front & rear bumper trim finishers, and a SensaTec upholstered dashboard on the interior.

Interior Treatments

No matter which grade you choose, the interiors are all very BMW-like: driver-focused and ergonomically optimized with exceptional material quality, fit, and finish. The front seats are ventilated for drivers and passengers, and the panoramic glass moonroof is now 9.8-inches longer. There’s contour lighting above the trim strip in the instrument panel and available Extended Ambient Lighting with six color tones. A 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat design increases cargo and loading room substantially.

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The 2018 BMW X3 has a ground clearance of 8 inches to help canvass rougher terrain or obstacles in the city. The approach angle (23.1°) and departure angle (21.4°) of the new X3, together with its breakover angle of 17.4°, create plenty of margin for negotiating steep sections or crests. Furthermore, a fording depth of 19.6 inches allows for efficient water crossings. Photo: BMW of North America, LLC.

M Sport Package

And – good news for us gearheads – the X3 gets an M Sport Package. Tick this option box and you get the M Aerodynamic kit: a front apron with larger air intakes, side skirt trim, and a diffusor-style rear apron. You also get Shadowline exterior trim and 19-inch M Double-Spoke Wheels, with 20s as an option. The interior includes a new M Sport leather steering wheel, M door sill finishers, and the aforementioned SensaTec upholstered dashboard.

This is the first ever M Performance model in the X3 lineup, and it’s not all good-looking performance pretentions either. The 3.0-liter M Performance TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine sits at the top of the X3 model range, cranking out 355 horsepower. That’s good enough to move this little tank from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. That straight 6 plant is mated to an 8-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission with shift paddles on the steering wheel, plus Launch Control. In addition, its xDrive all-wheel drive system has a far more pronounced rear bias when compared to other versions (insert maniacal laughter here). There’s also a “Performance Control” feature integrated into the DSC traction control system to produce additional agility and traction.

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The peak torque of the X3 M40i (369 lb-ft.) is available from 1,520 to 4,800 rpm, providing a 69 lb-ft. (23 percent) increase compared to the outgoing X3 xDrive35i. The standard engine, a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder, utilizes TwinPower Turbo technology with Double-VANOS variable camshaft timing and Valvetronic fully variable intake lift. The engine also utilizes a map-controlled oil pump, electric arc wire-sprayed cylinder barrels, twin-scroll exhaust turbocharger, and an electrically adjustable waste gate valve. Photo: BMW of North America, LLC.

M Interior Finish

The M model interiors get sport seats and “M40i” logos adorning the front door sills and instrument panel. There’s an M Aerodynamic kit finished in Cerium Grey Metallic, a flap-controlled M Sport exhaust system with Black Chrome tailpipe embellishers, M Sport brakes, M Sport Doughnut Dispenser, M Sport suspension with M Performance tuning, variable sport steering, and standard 19-inch or optional 20 and 21-inch cast light-alloy wheels. You can also get an Adaptive M Sport suspension which offers a wider range of ride and comfort settings.

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The new X3 comes with an array of modern safety features. For example, the standard pre-crash accident detection system (Active Protection) enhances passive safety by detecting potential accident situations as they arise. If a collision risk is detected, the system automatically triggers a variety of occupant protection measures. Front belt tensioners are activated while the windows and Panoramic moonroof are closed, for example. Photo: BMW of North America, LLC.

Little Details

BMW also makes a big deal about how the X3 will be the first BMW SUV, Crossover, Thingo in the United States to feature a factory-installed trailer hitch. That’s just so adorable, isn’t it? American car companies wouldn’t think of offering something even vaguely truck-like without adding a trailer hitch. Shoot, when I was a kid, station wagons had factory trailer hitches. Station wagons!

Overall, it’s hard to see how BMW is not going to make tons of money off of these little guys, oddly proportioned as they might be. The 2018 BMW X3 will arrive at dealerships this November with pricing information due around that same time. Also, I made up the M Sport Doughnut Dispenser.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

 2018 BMW X3 Gallery

Photos & Source: BMW of North America, LLC.