1 Jul 2004
BMW probably didn’t expect the X3 to get the critical pasting it did after the glowing reviews of its ever-popular X5.
The styling – “flame surfacing” in the modern Chris Bangle BMW idiom – divided consumers, as it seemed a little clumsy and incomplete.
Meanwhile there were concerns about the quality of the Austrian-built X3, from a perception as well as build point-of-view.
But the real problem was the X5, since it was only marginally larger and cost only marginally more than the X3, but seemed light a significantly better presented and resolved motor vehicle.
It was only when the second-generation – and much larger as well as costlier – X5 arrived in 2007 that the X3’s positioning became clear.
Built on a modified E46 3 Series platform, the E38 X3 debuted BMW’s X-drive 4WD system that promised excellent on-road dynamics and good off-road stability and traction.
Initially two engines were introduced – a 141kW/245Nm 2.5-litre unit with five-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearboxes – or the 170kW/300Nm 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder motor found in many other BMW models at the time. This one only came as a five-speed automatic.
In early 2006 the X3 3.0d arrived, using a turbo-diesel six-cylinder DOHC 24V engine to deliver 160kW of power and 480Nm of torque.
It also heralded a series of minor trim changes and equipment upgrades to the entire, slow-selling X3 range.
28th of January 2005
BMW 2004 X3 3.0i 5-dr wagonX5's smaller sibling arrives Down Under at an only slightly smaller price
When it was new
8th of December 2005
BMW X3 gets slick diesel powerBMW X3 off-roader gets the same ripping 3.0-litre turbo-diesel power as big bro X5
18th of October 2005
BMW X3 3.0d a premium offeringDiesels are growing in popularity so BMW adds an X3 turbodiesel to the lineup