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BMW Australia shuns rear-drive X3

Rear of the queue: With strong X3 sales in Australia, BMW is reluctant to clog showrooms with extra variants like the new rear-drive entry-level model announced in Europe.

X3 SUV line-up to stay all-AWD in Australia as BMW rejects rear-drive ‘18d’ variant

BMW logo22 Aug 2012

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

BMW has announced the first rear-drive variant of its X3 mid-size SUV, the entry-level sDrive18d, but it is no coming to Australia any time soon.

However, it could be considered for local release when the vehicle is facelifted in a couple of years.

BMW Group Australia head of corporate communications Piers Scott told GoAuto that, although there are no current plans to import the sDrive18d, the company is not completely ruling it out because of the popularity of rear-drive X1s in this country.

“It (the X3) is really young in its life, so something we would possibly consider post-facelift of that model,” he said.

BMW introduced the X3 xDrive20i – powered by a four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine – as a new entry-level variant late last year, priced from $59,500, but Mr Scott said the xDrive20d remains most popular X3 model here, accounting for around 50 per cent of sales.

The sDrive18d is powered by a 105kW/360Nm version of BMW’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and consumes 5.1 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres when fitted with the standard six-speed manual gearbox, or 5.4L/100km when paired with the eight-speed auto.

14 center imageFrom top: BMW X3 and X1.

The reduction in power, torque, weight and driveline friction over the all-wheel-drive 135kW/380Nm xDrive20d has saved 0.5L/100km as a manual and, with emissions rated at just 135 grams per kilometre, provides tax breaks in some European countries.

The rival front-drive Audi Q5 2.0TDI uses 5.2L/100km and emits 137g/km as a manual.

Because the more powerful, AWD xDrive20d has the same fuel consumption figures for both transmission options, meaning the advantage of slims to just 0.2L/100km as an auto and its 142g/km CO2 output pushes it into the same tax bracket.

Acceleration from 0-100km/h takes 9.9 seconds for the sDrive18d manual – matching the aforementioned Q5 – or 10.3s with the auto, while top speed is 195km/h (manual) or 190km/h (auto).

In Britain the sDrive18d will be priced £2905 ($A4366) lower than the xDrive20d in base SE trim when it launches in the northern autumn, putting it roughly on a par with the smaller rear-drive X1 sDrive20d M Sport.

It lacks the AWD-only hill descent control function, but standard fuel-saving equipment includes idle-stop, regenerative braking, electric power steering, a gear-select recommendation display and an Eco Pro drive-select mode.

In May this year, BMW Australia introduced the X3 xDrive28i, featuring a more powerful version of the 20i’s engine in place of the naturally aspirated 3.0-litre six-cylinder unit, resulting in improved efficiency and performance.

The X3 was BMW’s second-best-selling vehicle after the 3 Series last month with 226 sales, but year to date it is the third-best, up 36.1 per cent to 1406.

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