Joining the 3.0-litre launch models will be the 2.5i SE, priced at £28,615 on-the-road, together with the 2.5i Sport. Powered by BMW's award-winning192 bhp six cylinder engine, the 2.5i develops 245 Nm of torque at 3,500 rpm. Its 6-speed manual box comes as standard; an optional 5-speed automatic is also available. Additional performance figures for the X3 2.5i SE and Sport will be confirmed closer to launch.
BMW managing director Jim O'Donnell commented, "The new X3 represents the latest in a line of segment-defining vehicles from BMW. It is the first premium Sports Activity Vehicle in the compact/mid-size sector, and its appeal is already reflected in advance orders for much of next year's allocation - a full eight months before the UK launch. I expect the X3 to be another benchmark to which our competitors aspire."
All models in the X3 range feature BMW's brand new four-wheel-drive system, xDrive. Setting new standards in agility for four-wheel-drive, xDrive distributes drive to the axle which most needs it in an instant, improving stability, driving pleasure and safety. Fully variable, the system uses an electrically activated multiple-plate clutch. This means it can respond more quickly than more conventional systems, which require the build-up of hydraulic pressure to change drive distribution.
In most circumstances xDrive is also able to intervene before any serious loss of traction takes place, because it is constantly processing vehicle data from Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) sensors. These measure individual wheel speed, steering angle, lateral acceleration and yaw rates and give xDrive its 'intelligence', allowing it to pre-empt problems rather than merely reacting to situations where traction is lost.
As the multiple-plate clutch allows front and rear axles to be completely disconnected, xDrive can also provide 100 per cent drive to the rear axle.
Helmut Riedl, Chassis Director BMW Group added, "xDrive is the perfect system for maximising the driving enjoyment of BMW's Sports Activity Vehicles. Through its variable distribution of drive, front-to-rear, it offers intelligent power as an antidote to loss of control, rather than braking or power reduction via DSC. xDrive keeps the fun in driving."
Naturally DSC still functions, but 'intelligent' xDrive means it is needed less frequently. While xDrive ensures optimum grip by channelling drive forces axle-to-axle, DSC acts on individual wheels only where one starts to slip, cutting power and, if necessary, applying brakes.
An additional function of DSC is Trailer Stability Control (TSC), which comes as standard with factory fitted tow bars. TSC monitors any pendulum effect, applying brakes if DSC detects undue yaw movement characterised by the vehicle being overly-influenced by its trailer.
On steep downhill gradients Hill Descent Control (HDC) can be activated via a dashboard mounted button, slowing the vehicle automatically to programmed speeds between three and 16 mph, stabilizing it and reducing the risk of wheel locking.
As well as impressive levels of standard equipment, which includes automatic air conditioning and cruise control, the X3 comes with a range of options to accompany the active lifestyles of its owners.
These include a choice of either Business or Professional navigation system, the Professional system featuring map guidance within a dedicated 16:9 colour widescreen monitor. Complementing the X3's capacious interior - and cavernous 480-litre boot - is an optional Panorama Roof, providing more light and better views for passengers.
Adaptive Headlights can also be specified, making night driving safer and easier. These respond to steering inputs and swivel by up to 15 degrees, illuminating more of the road ahead as well as any potential hazards.
Three new exterior colours complete the picture - Flamenco Red, Highland Green and Mocha Brown. These are complemented by new seat options including Leather Ambiente in Grey, Black, Terracotta, Grey Blue and light Sand Beige. Interior trim options feature slate grey, aluminium buffed finish and fine wood trims in light birch grain and dark maple wood.
* The high-speed set-up is standard on X3 Sport models. As well as sports seats for driver and front passenger, leather sports steering wheel, individual high-gloss satin chrome and anthracite head lining, its 18" alloy wheels come with VR rated tyres. This means the top speed on the 3.0i, ordinarily electronically limited to 130 mph for standard HR rated X3 tyres, is de-limited to the car's natural top speed of 137 mph.
(Sept. 11, 2003)