X3 market’s preference shift identified

Might diesel take a back seat with the new X3?


RESURGENT interest in petrol power within the medium sports utility sector plus impending availability of an electric edition could colour how BMW choses to initially present its new-generation X3 locally.

This indication comes from BMW New Zealand spokesman Paul Sherley, who agrees that the local market swing back toward petrol engines over diesel is already affecting sales of the outgoing model, which is soon to depart in expectation of the replacement being here by year-end.

“From launch there are a number of petrol and diesel engine options available, and at this point we're still finalising our offering.  

“We have a full range of engines available to us. (But) As seen across the entire market, there is certainly a shift back towards petrol engines, and we've seen strong demand for the X3 xDrive28i which was introduced locally in 2016.”

In addition, the local distributor will look to enlarge its EV profile with the pure electric X3 BEV, which is set to be a 2020 introduction.

Sherley says the crossover continues to perform well for the brand, despite an ever-increasing count of rivals.

“X3 has consistently accounted for around 10 percent of our local model mix, and this continues in 2017.  

“The market continues to have a strong appetite for SUVs … the new generation X3 will be perfect for New Zealand.”

The third –generation car maintains strong visual reference to the outgoing car, but is all new. Importantly sits on BMW’s new CLAR platform, which it shares with the Five Series. Many of the interior treatments that arrived with the medium sedan also transfer across.

Potential launch cycle derivatives for NZ to consider include xDrive20d powered by a 139kW 2.0-litre diesel, an xDrive30d which uses a 195kW 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel, plus an M Performance model for the first time in the shape of the M40i which houses a 264kW turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol under the bonnet.

A lesser-powered 2.0-litre turbo, badged xDrive20i, is also coming into production, but at a later date.

All models come with LED headlamps, a full leather interior and alloy wheels as standard while the M Sport models benefit from a range of racier features such as sports seats.

The kidney grille is larger than before and the nose styling is more like that of the X5. At the back it’s more curvaceous than the previous two X3s.

Yet while the outside could be described as a gentle evolution of the previous X3, it’s on the inside where the new car stretches ahead of its predecessor.

As in the 5 Series, there’s ambient lighting with a choice of six colours, and among the options there’s a head-up display, acoustic glass for the front windows, climate control with the ability to pump out fragranced air of up to eight different scents, ventilated seats and a large panoramic sunroof that stretches back over the rear passengers.

Other extras include gesture control and BMW’s Display Key, with a smartphone-like screen giving fuel range and security info, though it doesn’t feature the 5 and 7 Series’ clever self-parking feature.

Munich promises more storage than before, along with 40:20:40 split-fold seats. Luggage space is 550 litres with the rear seats up and 1600L with them folded.

BMW has employed some new lightweight suspension components to reduce unsprung weight, but the overall suspension design remains the same – double-joint spring strut at the front and five-link at the rear.

Alloy wheels go up a size to 18-inches, on base models, while 21-inch wheels are optional, as are chassis enhancement packages such as M Sport suspension, Dynamic Damper Control, M Sport brakes and variable sport steering.

BMW claims the new model is more than capable of off-roading, with a 204mm ground clearance and 500mm water wading depth.