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BMW X3

E83 X3

BMW logo1 Jul 2004

By THE GOAUTO TEAM

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.

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