When BMW proclaims itself as the ultimate driving machine, the German auto company never compromises its vehicle designs from the refined European performance they have established. As BMW took on the sport utility vehicle, the company styling DNA applied through their premium sport sedans creating a unique interpretation of the vehicle. Evidently popularizing the framework for what we accept as the crossover vehicle in 1999, the successful BMW X5 spawned a smaller companion called the X3 in 2004. Selling 150,000 American units, the compact luxury SUV/crossover market has exploded with rivals Acura, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac becoming more concentrated in the category. New and more powerful for the 2011 model year, the BMW X3 trails back to the front for their self-coined ‘sport activity vehicle’.
Outside, the 2011 BMW X3 has been given a sportier bravado. A mildly longer and wider ‘Sport Activity Vehicle’ compared to the previous BMW X3, vehicle lines on the new BMW X3 are sharpened particularly along the front fenders. The distinctively BMW kidney grille openings is more pronounced over the previous generation. Surrounding the expanded air openings, the 2011 X3’s headlamp lenses have an updated look corresponding with the brand’s other vehicles (most notably the BMW 3-Series). Optional HID (High Intensity Discharge) lighting and LED daytime running lights illuminate the oncoming road with BMW’s “Corona Rings” shining with a stylistic flare. Another area where BMW’s new styling DNA blends into the 2011 X3 is found along the side. Sheetmetal etches well-defined upper contour lines run along the door handles reflecting sensation of speed even when standing still. The made-over rear taillights are all LED light bars arranged more dynamic style.
Ride comfort had risen to be a major pet peeve for many BMW X3 owners found pothole encounters overly bumpy. With the restyled X3 body riding 0.5 inches higher than the 2010 model, a reworked suspension system travels along bumpier roads with more ease coupled with optional EDC (Electronic Damping Control). Thanks to the EDC, shock absorbers are able to quickly sense and adjust for imperfection in the road surface. Gone is the front-wheel drive BMW X3 for 2011 as all redesigned X3 models will be equipped with the company’s xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive system. Allowing power to transfer as much as 100% to the rear wheels, the xDrive system controlled by a multi-disc clutch coordinated with electronic controls such as Dynamic Stability Control.
Stateside customers will receive their 2011 BMW X3 with either a 3 liter normally-aspirated inline-6 engine in the xDrive28i or the all-new 3 liter turbocharged xDrive35i version. While the entry-level xDrive28i has been detuned by 20 horsepower to 240 total, the new turbocharged-equipped BMW X3 pumps out 300 horsepower. With both engines sporting direct injection and BMW’s Valvetronic control, high-technology is well-represented. Though fuel economy numbers have yet to be released, expect an overall improvement within the X3 lineup through the combination of the lower output powerplant and the use of turbocharging for bigger horsepower numbers. Contributing to maximizing fuel economy but also allowing for super-smooth power deliver, a new 8-speed automatic transmission for the 2011 BMW X3 include two overdrive gears.
In European markets, a 2 liter diesel powerplant option will be available for 2011. BMW does understand that the United States market has a potential diesel following (the BMW 3-Series and X5 have been added) will either avoid saturation of the market with an X3 diesel or introduce it at a later date.
For the ultimate driving machine, the 2011 BMW X3 cabin provides a rewarding premium motoring experience. Drivers will enjoy well-placed instruments and Servotronic speed-sensitive power steering for the optimal handling and control. Rewarding the driver highly, passengers will not suffer inside the revised X3 interior which now offers increased leg and elbow room. The BMW X3 interior seating has been augmented to not only improve visibility but entry and exit from the vehicle. Asserting itself as having best in class cargo capacity, the 2011 BMW X3 offers multiple storage solutions that could include an optional ski-pass through rear seat. BMW’s iDrive returns with an optional navigation system presented in the middle of X3 dash panel within a massive 8.8 inch screen.
Leaving from the Spartanburg, South Carolina, the 2011 BMW M3 is on target for showroom arrival in late 2010. Currently the smallest of BMW’s ‘Sport Activity Vehicle’, the X3 will soon be a middle child of the German family when the baby BMW X1 joins the American lineup sometime into 2011.