The grille on the newly unveiled X3 SUV has a blend of vertically and diagonally arranged bars
The grille on the newly unveiled X3 SUV has a blend of vertically and diagonally arranged bars
Image: Supplied

Just when we were getting used to BMW’s supersized kidney grilles, the German carmaker has unveiled another controversial snout.

The grille on the newly launched X3 SUV has a blend of vertically and diagonally arranged bars which BMW says “gives off an air of assured presence”. The contentious nose — which will no doubt spawn much debate and memes — fronts a car with a 25mm drop in height and wider tracks for a bolder presence. Prominently flared wheel arches create an impression of greater width at the rear.

The daytime driving lights, side lights and turn signal indicators in the LED headlights are produced by L-shaped, overlapping light sources. Adaptive LED headlights with non-dazzling matrix high beam, urban light and cornering light functions, plus blue design detailing are standard.

BMW’s fourth-generation premium midsized SUV is more spacious than its predecessor, with a 34mm increase in length to 4,755mm, while width has increased by 29mm.

The X3, competing against rivals such as the Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLC — is BMW’s best-selling vehicle in SA.

The new X3 (code-named the G45) will be built at BMW Group Plant Spartanburg in the US and Plant Rosslyn in SA, with local sales to get under way in the fourth quarter of 2024. The outgoing third-generation X3 has been built in Rosslyn since 2018 with more than 300,000 units rolling off the line. The plug-in hybrid model of the new X3 will be built locally while SA buyers will be able to buy petrol and diesel X3 variants as imports.

The premium cabin is equipped with a BMW Curved Display common to all new BMW models, which combines the infotainment screen with the driver’s digital instrument cluster. It also has a BMW Interaction Bar inherited from the 7-Series, which is a colour-changing faceted surface in the dashboard that doubles as a touch control display for certain features.

The new interior has a flat-bottomed steering wheel and a new-look gear selector lever, while the iDrive controller has been retained for those who don’t want to leave fingerprints on the touchscreen. Smartphone integration using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is available as standard. 

The premium cabin is equipped with a BMW Curved Display and BMW Interaction Bar
The premium cabin is equipped with a BMW Curved Display and BMW Interaction Bar
Image: Supplied

Model-specific highlights include light elements in a contrasting colour in the centre console and door trims. The optional BMW Live Cockpit Professional has a head-up display with an augmented view function in the control display. Also to be found on the options list are a panoramic glass sunroof, heated steering wheel and a preheating function.

The boot has grown to 570l, expandable to 1,700l, an improvement over the 550l-1,600l of the outgoing model.

All variants come standard with electrically adjustable and heated front sport seats upholstered in Econeer fabric made from recycled polyester. Veganza artificial leather and Merino leather upholstery are available as options. Making its debut for a BMW model is the optional Luxury instrument panel made from recycled polyester with a high-class knitted texture.

The car is built with intelligent lightweight construction and optimised aerodynamics, with a class-leading drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.27, says BMW.

BMW says the X3 has a noticeable increase in agility, cornering stability and long-distance comfort over the outgoing model. This is thanks to a body with lower weight but increased rigidity and wider rear track. The chassis upgrades ensure noticeably improved directional stability and the steering is more direct.

The new X3 is launched in a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains, all paired with an eight-speed Steptronic transmission, including shift paddles on the steering wheel.

The range-topping M50 xDrive has a conventional grille
The range-topping M50 xDrive has a conventional grille
Image: Supplied

The flagship X3 M50 xDrive is powered by the most powerful six-cylinder in-line petrol engine yet fitted in an M Performance model. The 3.0l M TwinPower Turbo unit is paired with 48V mild hybrid technology for a maximum output of 293kW and 580Nm that is channelled to the road via an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission and BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive. The range topper blitzes the 0-100km/h sprint in a claimed 4.6 seconds.

M Sport suspension with variable sport steering, M Sport brakes, 20” M light-alloy wheels and an M Sport differential integrated into the rear axle are standard in the M50 xDrive, with adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers. It is visually identified by M-specific design features, an M kidney grille with horizontal bars and a quartet of tailpipes.

The X3 30e xDrive plug-in hybrid combines a 2.0l four-cylinder petrol engine partnered with an electric motor integrated into the eight-speed Steptronic transmission. It has a system output of 220kW and 450Nm, which is good for a 0-100km/h sprint in 6.2 seconds and is able to drive on purely electric power for up to 90km. It comes with BMW IconicSounds Electric for special sound effects.

The X3 20 xDrive has a 2.0l petrol turbo engine with 48V mild hybrid technology making outputs of 153kW and 330Nm. The X3 20d xDrive has a 2.0l turbodiesel mustering 145kW and 400Nm.

The new X3 offers a more extensive range of standard and optional systems for semi-automated driving and parking. It comes standard with front collision warning, lane departure warning and speed limit information, and Parking Assistant with reversing camera.

Extra-cost options include a Parking Assist Professional that allows the car to be parked from outside using a smartphone.

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