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Driven: BMW launches vital new-gen X3

LuX3 as: BMW’s new-generation X3 has launched with three model grade choices – 20d, 30i and 30d – with each offering higher performing engines and improved levels of specification.

Third-gen BMW X3 mid-size SUV expected to become Bavarian brand’s best seller

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BMW logo2 Nov 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

BMW Australia’s crucial third-generation X3 crossover has landed in local showrooms and is expected to surpass the 3 Series passenger car, X5 large SUV and X1 high-rider to become the car-maker’s best-selling model Down Under.

While the outgoing X3 is currently third in BMW’s Australian sales tally with 2621 new registrations year-to-date (YTD), 2016 was the model’s most successful year with 3824 units sold in its final full 12 months on the market.

To snatch the BMW sales crown however, the new-generation X3 will need to surpass the leading X1, which is averaging about 334 sales a month YTD, and the X5, with an average monthly tally of 323 units.

Interest in the new-generation X3 could also propel it past its rivals in the premium medium SUV market – a segment which has grown 0.7 per cent to the end of September – including the Mercedes-Benz GLC on 2879 sales YTD and the sales-leading Land Rover Discovery Sport with 3547 units.

Overall the medium SUV market in Australia has grown 14.7 per cent YTD and accounts for about 16.4 per cent of the new-car market.

BMW Australia X range product and pricing manager Ryan Begg told GoAuto at the launch of the new-generation X3 that the mid-size crossover is in prime position to become the brand’s sales leader.

“I think there’s the potential for it to be our highest-selling volume,” he said. “I think X3 is in a really good position, particular next year probably, to be our highest volume seller.”

BMW Australia product communications manager Adam Davis added that the third-generation X3 is the “right car, (in the) right segment, (at the) right time” and that it would present an attractive step up from its smaller passenger car offerings.

However, Mr Begg would not be drawn on which of the three initial launch variants would be the best seller – 20d, 30i or 30d – but said all three present strong propositions for buyers.

“It’s the customer’s decision, we’re really happy with selling any of them,” he said. “But the positioning is that we’ve got a really strong entry-level product (20d), and 30i is in a really strong position given its offers about $10,000 worth of value in terms of equipment over a 20d, and then your 30ds are in a really strong position as well with a really strong engine and dynamics.

“Three really strong offerings, whether it’s diesel or petrol.”

The three-variant X3 launch range will be bolstered by the arrival of a new range-opening sDrive 20i rear-wheel-drive offering early next year, with a flagship M40i performance hero due in about mid-2018.

Mr Begg would not be drawn on pricing of either new variant, but indicated they would both be positioned competitively in the market.

“Pricing will be announced next year closer to local launch, but it will come in under a 20d obviously,” he said about the petrol-powered 20i.

Speaking about the M40i, Mr Begg said: “That’s something we’re really excited about, it’s going to be a very dynamic car.

“Obviously the range topper for X3, the first time we’ve ever had M Performance offered in X3. It’s going to have an M Performance six-cylinder engine very similar to that found in the M140i – 265kW/500Nm – it’s going to be a really dynamic car, really awesome car, really emotional car as well.

“And I think it’s going to be positioned quite competitively as well in terms of the market.”

Speculatively pricing would put the sDrive20i X3 at around the low-to-mid $60,000 mark, undercutting its rival Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC entry-level offerings.

Similarly, the M40i is expected to land at around $100,000 to put the fight to the Audi SQ5 and Mercedes-AMG GLC43, priced at $99,611 and $102,111 respectively.

Until then, BMW’s three-variant X3 range is underpinned by an eight-speed sports automatic transmission and the brand’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system with variable torque split.

Kicking the range off at $68,900 is the xDrive20d powered by a 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine which returns 5.7 litres per 100km of fuel economy and emits 149 grams of CO2 per kilometre. Zero to 100km/h comes in 8.0 seconds.

Stepping up to the mid-spec xDrive30i switches powertrains to an 185kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine – the sole petrol engine available at launch – for $75,900.

The 0-100km/h sprint drops to a hot hatch-scaring 6.3s, while fuel economy is rated at 7.6L/100km and CO2 emissions measure 174g/km.

The BMW X3’s launch range is topped by a 190kW/620Nm turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder oil-burning six cylinder dubbed xDrive30d, which wears an $83,900 pricetag.

Fuel consumption in the flagship is rated at 6.0L/100km, CO2 emissions at 159g/km while the landmark triple digit sprint is over in 5.8s.

Standard equipment across the range includes idle-stop, head-up display, cruise control, heated side mirrors, automatic LED headlights with cornering control, 19-inch alloy wheels, integrated aluminium roof rails, dual exhaust tips, cloth and leather interior trim, power-operated tailgate, three-zone climate control, sports seats up front, and 6.5-inch infotainment display with digital radio, satellite navigation and wireless smartphone charging.

Safety gear such as hill descent control, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, reversing camera and parking sensors all round also come with all versions of the new-gen X3.

Moving up to 30i and 30d variants adds leather upholstery, keyless entry and tailgate operation, 12.3-inch high-resolution digital instrumentation display, adaptive cruise control, cross traffic alert, 360-degree surround view cameras, high-beam assist, 20-inch wheels and a 10.25-inch iDrive6 infotainment display.

A M Sport Package can be optioned to the X3 ($4550 on the 20d, $3800 on 30i and 30d variants) which adds black upholstery with blue contrast stitching, anthracite headliner, dynamic damper control, LED foglights, and M steering wheel and exterior bodykit.

Other options include an Innovations Package exclusive to the 20d, Comfort Package and Rear Comfort Package ranging in price from $1820 to $3250.

Standard colours include Alpine White and Black, while buyers can add $1950 to their purchase price for a choice of eight premium colours including Phytonic Blue, Terra Brown and Glacier Silver.

2017 BMW X3 pricing*
xDrive20d (a)$68,900
xDrive30i (a)$75,900
xDrive30d (a)$83,900
*Excludes on-road costs

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