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BMW X3 5-dr wagon

1 Mar 2011

BMW’s second-generation X3 launched in March 2011 with a mountain to climb in the form of Audi’s segment-leading Q5. Bigger, more luxurious and better looking, but with no increase to the price over the previous model, the X3 made a compelling case for someone wanting a car to straddle the line between X1 and X5.

The entry-level X3 came with a more powerful 135kW/380Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that also outperforms the base Q5 2.0 TDI’s 125kW/350Nm diesel engine.

As such, the cheapest iteration of BMW’s bigger and more sophisticated X3 sprints to 100km/h in a claimed 8.5 seconds on its way to a 210km/h top speed. Fitted as standard with ZF’s latest eight-speed automatic transmission, the X3 20d consumed just 5.6 litres of diesel for every 100km (the same as a diesel Holden Cruze small-car) and emitting just 149 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

The flagship version of BMW’s mid-size AWD wagon delivered even more value, with the X3 xDrive30d price cut by $2500 to $74,900 despite a claimed $10,000 increase in value over the previous model, making it a full $17,200 less expensive than the )at the time) X5 range-opener, the similarly engined X5 xDrive30d ($92,100).

The X3’s six-cylinder inline turbo-diesel delivered a beefy 190kW/560Nm, returned 6.0L/100km and 159g/km and sprinted to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds.

The mid-range 190kW/310Nm 3.0-litre petrol X3 xDrive28i replaced both the 2.5 and 3.0-litre petrol six-cylinder-powered models of the former range and was also priced between the two other models at $71,900.

Aiding the efficiency gains for two of the three auto-only Australian models – but not the petrol-powered xDrive28i – was BMW’s first application of a fuel-saving idle-stop system in an automatic vehicle, although all models came with brake energy regeneration technology, which prevented battery charging unless coasting or braking, and on-demand ancillary functions like air-conditioning.

Also standard across the range was a reversing camera, hi-res 6.5-inch colour monitor, BMW’s iDrive driver interface, USB audio and Bluetooth connectivity, keyless starting and electric power steering, while the base 20d diesel sat on 17-inch alloy wheels with low-rolling-resistance tyres as standard.

The X3 20d was also differentiated by black (rather than matt-alloy as on the 28i and 30d, both of which score 18-inch alloy wheels) bars in its trademark BMW kidney grille, while all X3s gained alloy – instead of matt-black – roof rails.

However, the entry-level X3 came with ‘Sensatec’ seat trim, rather than the full leather interior of the outgoing base X3 and both upstream variants, which also added power seat adjustment, while the range-topping X3 30d added an ‘X Line’ chrome and aluminium exterior highlight package and an electric tailgate.

November 2011 saw the arrival of an entry-level xDrive20i variant employing a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine developing 135kW of power and 270Nm of torque, enabling it to hit 100km/h from rest in 8.6 seconds – only one-tenth slower than the diesel-powered xDrive20d that previously opened the range and with which the new petrol version shared an equipment level.

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