Pros Trendy but also ultra reliable with excellent handling and good safety features.
Cons Weak fuel efficiency and interior on early models. Expensive option in competitive market.
The BMW X3 has already proven to be an outstanding performer in the
international car market and is among the most popular all-wheeldrive
vehicles in plenty of countries the world over. With worldwide sales
amounting to more than 260,000 vehicles in just two and a half years BMW seem to have shown they have their finger on the pulse by offering a mix of luxury and performance with half decent off road capability.
The BMW X3 is a sports utility vehicle SUV 4x4 or Sports Activity Vehicle as BMW has described it. Basically the USP of this vehicle is its style and flexibility and BMW aimed it to appeal at younger drivers in the sector as well as more women drivers. Its similar in size to a Land Rover or a Jeep Cherokee and this Mid size SUV is a more compact version of its forerunner the X5. The X3 continues the X5s mix of off-road capability but with bigger emphasis on sports touring capability but in a smaller package. On launch in 2004 the X3s engine line-up was fairly limited with a 2.0-petrol, launched in 2005, as the smallest and most affordable. The range has expanded considerably since with 3.0-litre versions offering up to 280bhp. There are also diesel versions up to 3.0-litre with 215bhp. These more powerful up to date versions are the ones to seek out. They are more enduring and provide better economy. Post 2005 updates also included goodies such as digital TV and MP3 compatibility. The 2006 updated offered even greater choice with the arrival for the first time a diesel engine at the top of the range in the new BMW X3, the 3.0-litre straight six with Variable Twin Turbo technology BMW X3 3.0sd, developing a superior 210 kW/286 hp. Again 2007 updates have extended the range receiving BMWs EfficientDynamics technology and improvements in overall performance.
Launched at the 2006 Paris Motor Show Mondial de lAutomobile the 2006 BMW X3 offered more powerful engines, fresh design, and a sophisticated interior and for the first time a diesel engine comes right at the top of the range in the new BMW X3, the 3.0-litre straight six with Variable Twin Turbo technology in the BMW X3 3.0sd developing
a superior 210 kW/286 hp. Six-cylinder petrol engines with a magnesium/aluminium crankcase as well as all-aluminium six-cylinder diesel engines including BMWs new
3.0-litre diesel featuring Variable Twin Turbo technology and maximum output
of 210 kW/286 hp, gave the new BMW X3 impressive performance credentials.
Variable Twin Turbo (VTT) technology is making its debut in the BMW X3 3.0sd as the most sporting six-cylinder diesel ever featured in a production car. The second generation of BMWs top-end diesel developing maximum output of 210 kW/286 hp comes complete with Variable Twin Turbo (VTT) technology introduced by BMW for the first time worldwide in 2004 in the BMW 535d. Referred to as two-stage turbocharging, this technology incorporates two turbochargers, a small turbocharger cutting in first at low engine speeds, a larger turbocharger then developing its additional power at higher speeds and with greater pressure on the gas pedal. Maximum torque now increased to 580 Nm or 427 lb-ft is maintained consistently between 1,750 and 2,250 rpm. This outstanding power and muscle is borne out clearly in the performance of the new BMW X3 3.0sd, taking only 6.6 seconds to accelerate to 100 km/h and reaching a top speed of 240 km/h or 149 mph. Average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle is nevertheless a modest 8.7 litres of diesel fuel per 100 kilometres, equal to 32.5 mpg Imp. And highly effective emission management, finally, is ensured by a particulates filter and an oxidation catalyst. The efficiency of the top-end diesel in the range is borne out by a reduction in weight of 25 kilos or 55 lb and the latest generation of common-rail direct fuel injection complete with piezo injectors.
These two features are also to be admired in the 3.0-litre straight-six powering the BMW X3 3.0d, again featuring an all-aluminium crankcase as well as piezo injectors in the fuel injection system. Injection pressure increased to no less than 1,600 bar, in turn, serves to fill the combustion chambers particularly quickly and efficiently, and in combination with a turbocharger featuring Variable Turbine Geometry (VTG) maximum output is 160 kW/218 hp, peak torque 500 Nm/369 lb-ft. The BMW X3 3.0d accelerates to 100 km/h or 62 mph in 7.4 seconds and has a top speed of 210 km/h or 130 mph. Running on V-class tyres available as an option from the factory, the vehicles top speed is an even more
impressive 220 km/h or 136 mph. Returning average fuel consumption in the EU cycle of 7.9 litres of diesel fuel/100 kilometres, equal to 35.8 mpg Imp, the new BMW X3 3.0d is very efficient. And as a further contribution to the environment, it comes as standard with a particulates filter fitted close to the engine for optimum emission management.
The new BMW X3 2.0d is even more economical, its four-cylinder common rail fuel injection power unit developing maximum output of 110 kW/150 hp and peak torque of 330 Nm/243 lb-ft maintained consistently between 2,000 and 2,500 rpm. Acceleration to 100 km/h comes in this case in 10.2 seconds and the top speed of the BMW X3 2.0d is 198 km/h or 123 mph. Average fuel consumption, in turn, is just 7.2 litres/100 kilometres or 39.2 mpg Imp, and a particulates filter naturally comes as standard also on BMWs four-cylinder diesel.
To a large extent, the new BMW X3 owes its potential to permanent, intelligent BMW xDrive all-wheel-drive technology. Its extremely fast and precise response ensuring fully variable distribution of power between the front and rear axles. Via a power divider with an electronically controlled multiple-plate coupling, BMW xDrive feeds the power of the engine precisely to where it can be used most effectively. The result is not only optimum traction on rough and poor ground, but also enhanced driving dynamics with BMW xDrive counteracting any over or understeer in bends right from the start. A lateral lock function, in turn, is applied by the brakes intervening on any of the wheels about to spin.
The most popular model in the BMW X3 range receives revised engine with efficient Dynamics technology as of 2007. The new BMW X3 2.0d comes with a 1,995cc engine offering 177hp, up 27hp compared to the previous model, and 350Nm of torque, up 20Nm.
Enhanced engine output results in better performance figures for the model that accounts for 70 per cent of X3 sales in the UK. The X3 2.0d now records an 11 per cent improvement in fuel consumption attaining 43.5mpg on the combined cycle. The vehicles CO2 emissions also fall 10 per cent from 191g/km to 172g/km seeing it drop into Band E for Vehicle Excise Duty.
Improvements in economy and emissions are combined with improved performance - zero to 62mph time of 8.9 seconds compares to 10.2 seconds previously, while top speed has increased from 123mph to 128mph.
To complete the picture of X3 2.0d revisions, the model is now offered with the option of BMWs Steptronic automatic transmission.
Other models in the BMW X3 range also receive EfficientDynamics technology and a consequential improvement in overall performance. The next two popular models in the range, the X3 3.0d and 3.0sd, both see fuel consumption improve by seven per cent and 11 per cent to 38.2mpg and 36.2mpg respectively on the combined cycle. CO2 emissions on both those models also fall by seven and 10 per cent.
BMW X3 Models Comparison
Model / Power H Increase in H New Combined Mpg / Improvement of % / New emissions g/km / g/km decrease %