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The compact luxury SUV segment has gotten more competitive over the last couple of years. In traditional BMW fashion, its response to its challengers is to build something familiar, but better in every way.

The German carmaker has just unveiled the all-new X3, and we like what we’re seeing. The new model is 51mm longer, 10mm wider, and 2mm lower than the outgoing model. Up front it receives a larger kidney grille, more angular headlights, and for the first time on an X-model, slim hexagonal LED fog lights in place of the traditional round units. Moving on to the sides, it now features a straighter character line, more muscular wheel arches, and a front fender air-breather.

Like the original X3, this is one of the rare instances when the Bavarian-based company traded in the traditional Hofmeister Kink design for a more subtle upswept rear window shape. At the back, styling changes are less dramatic: lines have been smoothened and all variants now get twin exhausts. Strategically positioned intakes, vents, spoilers and underbody cladding help this SUV, or SAV in BMW-speak, achieve a drag coefficient of only 0.29.

Inside the new X3 features a more premium, driver-oriented dashboard reminiscent of the ones found in the new 5-Series and 7-Series. It can be optioned with a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, full-color heads-up display, and a slim floating 10.2-inch touchscreen with hand gesture control.

Handling and driving dynamics have been improved thanks to its 50:50 weight distribution and 55kg weight reduction. Unsprung weight has also been trimmed by adopting aluminum suspension components.

At launch, the new X3 will be available with three powerplants: a 2.0-liter diesel unit which produces 188hp and 400Nm of torque (xDrive20d), a 3.0-liter diesel lump which makes 261hp and 620Nm of torque (xDrive30d), and the range-topping M40i’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo gasoline mill which produces 355hp and 500 Nm of torque. Two 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engines will later join the lineup, one rated at 181hp for the xDrive20i, and a more powerful one rated at 248hp for the xDrive30i. The 20i variant will be available with a base RWD version outside Europe. All engines are paired to an 8-speed Steptronic transmission.

The M40i gets additional features like M-sport brakes, M-sport suspension, M-sport exhaust, variable-sport steering, and a more rear-biased AWD system.

As expected from BMW, the latest X3 features advanced safety tech which includes the optional Driving Assistant Plus safety package with semi-autonomous driver assistance systems.

The all-new X3 will be built at BMW’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It’s expected to reach foreign dealerships beginning the fourth quarter of this year.

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Andrew Guerrero
Writer
Andrew has a passion for cars, both old and new. He prefers a good ol' manual transmission and feels sad when a new car model isn't released with one.
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