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BMW's latest X3 is bigger, more stylish and better value than predecessor

9 Mar 2011

FORGET everything you know about BMW’s original X3, because the new F25 series has more in common with the first X5 when it comes to size, space and luxury – at prices that remain unchanged at base level and actually decrease further up the range.

Slotting neatly between the all-new X1 and MkII X5 in terms of size and price, the new X3 delivers a new level of performance and fuel-efficiency compared to both its predecessor and its closest luxury SUV competitor, Audi’s popular Q5.

With Audi’s X1-rivalling Q3 still at least a year away, BMW now appears to have all luxury SUV bases covered, but does the smooth Q5 have enough of a head start to remain ahead of the pack – and the compelling new X3 - this year?
Model release date: 1 February 2011 to 1 May 2014

Previous model


Released: July 2004
Ended: March 2011
Family Tree: X3

RELEASED in Europe five years after BMW’s pioneering X5 in 2003 and introduced Down Under in July 2004, the first (E83-series) X3 delivered BMW-like performance and handling but very un-BMW-like cabin materials wrapped in ungainly proportions.

Initially, it was available in 141kW 2.5-litre inline six-cylinder petrol entry-level X3 2.5i guise – offered with both six-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmissions priced from under $65,000 – alongside a 170kW 3.0-litre petrol six matched exclusively with BMW’s Steptronic auto.

The 3.0-litre turbo-diesel six-powered X3 3.0d joined the range in November 2005, offering 160kW of power and enough torque (480Nm) to make the similarly priced 3.0i feel lethargic.

Annual upgrades were followed by the release in December 2007 of a new entry-level X3 variant powered by the same 125kW/340Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder that powered the day’s 1, 3 and 5 Series sedans, priced from $62,900 and bringing the number of variants within the simple MkI X3 model range to four.

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