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BMW Unveils 3rd Generation X3 and First-Ever M-Edition

Bigger, lighter, more powerful.

by on Jun.26, 2017

BMW is adding the first true performance version of the X3 with the debut of the M40i.

BMW has rolled out a steady stream of hits since opening up its Spartanburg, South Carolina assembly plant more than two decades ago. And now, it’s updating one of the most popular of those models with the debut of the 2018 BMW X3 Sport-Activity Vehicle.

With the launch of the third-generation ute, BMW has opted for evolution, rather than revolution, though there are enough changes to likely catch the fancy of compact crossover fans. Among other things, the Bavarian maker is introducing the first M version of the X3, albeit the mid-range M Performance line.

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The new X3 comes along at a perfect time considering the radical shift in consumer demand. Even luxury buyers have migrated from sedans to utes. At the same time, that’s something that’s landed on the radar of key competitors, Jaguar just announcing plans to launch its second SUV model, the compact E-Pace, for 2018.


Updated 2015 BMW X3 SAV Making Debut

Crossover gets new diesel option.

by on Feb.05, 2014

BMW brings the 2015 X3 to Chicago for its debut.

More than a decade after pushing into the midsize crossover segment with its X3 – a “Sport Activity Vehicle” in BMW speak – the German maker is revealing a significant refresh.

The maker’s original X5 was a breakthrough product and a hit with American consumers, but the smaller and lower-priced X3 expanded that appeal significantly.  Now BMW hopes to broaden that reach even further with a modest facelift and the addition of some compelling new features – notably including a new diesel engine option.

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We’ve been seeing spy shots and a few leaked images in recent weeks, but these are BMW’s first formal images – and we now learn more about what the new 2015 X3 will offer.

The new crossover picks up on the basics of the second-generation X3 which was introduced in 2010.  The design changes are modest though readily apparent, starting with the modified twin-circular headlamps – with LED lighting an option — an updated BMW kidney grille, new bumpers and revised side mirrors.


BMW Bringing X1 to U.S. Market

It will show facelifted model at New York auto show.

by on Apr.02, 2012

BMW will show a facelifted X1 sport ute at the New York auto show, with plans to sell it in the U.S. as a 2013 model.

While BMW’s X1 has been available around the world for several years, the smallest BMW sport ute has not been sold in the U.S.

That will change for 2013 and BMW will show a facelifted version of the X1 at the New York auto show, according to the automaker.

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At 175.4 inches long, the X1 is 4.5 inches shorter than the X3.

Power will come from BMW’s new turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter four cylinder. Output should be about 240 horsepower, similar to the engine’s output in other applications. The engine is currently found in the 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive28i and 2012 BMW 328i.


First Look: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK

A crowded crop of compact crossovers.

by on Mar.26, 2012

Mercedes hints the diesel GLK 250 will be the most fuel-efficient offering in its segment.

We’re going to be seeing a crowded crop of compact crossovers in the coming months, and there’ll be something for seemingly every wallet, with all-new offerings as well as updates like the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK set to roll into showrooms.

It seems the German maker will be updating both ends of its crossover line-up, previously revealing the new GL that will make its debut at the New York Auto Show next month.  Now, we can take a closer look at the 2013 Mercedes GLK –which will also make its first appearance in the Big Apple.

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For those with a weak grasp of the Teutonic tongue, that “K” makes all the difference.  It’s German for “kurz,” and like the SLK and CLK designations, means a downsized model.  In this case, the smallest of the Mercedes-Benz crossovers, designed to compete with the likes of the BMW X3, the Audi Q5 and even the Cadillac SRX.

The timing of this modest update probably couldn’t be better considering that rising fuel prices have lots of buyers looking to downsize.  Better yet, Mercedes is signaling that the 2013 GLK will offer a new diesel option that could make it the most fuel-efficient offering in the compact luxury crossover segment.


Finalists for North American Car, Truck of the Year Revealed

Detroit lands no finalists in truck category for first time.

by on Dec.15, 2011

Land Rover lands a finalist with the Range Rover Evoque - which goes up against the Honda CR-V and BMW X3.

For the first time ever there will be no Detroit entries among the finalists for North American Truck of the Year – and only one domestic among the Car of the Year finalists.

The all-new Range Rover Evoque, updated Honda CR-V and second-generation BMW X3 grabbed the three top spots among many new truck models tested by the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury – which consists of 50 automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada.

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The finalists in the car category include Ford Motor Co.’s new “world car,” the Focus, Hyundai’s restyled Elantra and the latest-generation Volkswagen Passat, the first model to roll out of the German maker’s new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


First Drive: BMW X3 xDrive35i

The Ultimate Freeway Machine Isn’t as Happy in Town.

by on Sep.09, 2011

The styling of the BMW X3 is an evolution of the original baby Bimmer sport ute.

It’s not surprising that BMW’s X3 xDrive35i loves to stretch its legs on the freeways and highways. After all, it was bred on Germany’s silky smooth and – in some places – speed limit-free Autobahn.

In that arena, the twin-turbo inline six provides effortless acceleration, there’s plenty of room for everyone and the X3’s many luxury features coddle occupants.

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So why does its personality completely change around town where it feels like a pit bull straining its leash?

The first-generation X3 was roundly criticized for its punishing ride and, in retrospect, the automaker admitted that the interior wasn’t as good as it should have been, either.


First Drive: 2011 BMW X3 xDrive 35i and 20d

Dressed for success.

by on Oct.22, 2010

The 2011 BMW X3 makes up for the major flaws of the original compact SAV.

BMW fans will undoubtedly remember the harsh criticism levied against the original X3, which seemed to miss the mark on a number of critical counts, notably styling, size and ride.  With the second-generation 2011 BMW X3 set to hit the streets in January, all (or just about all) is forgiven.

In 2004, the X3 paved the way for the then-new segment of compact SAVs, or sports activity vehicles, as BMW prefers to call it. Even though far from perfect, some 150,000 units of the original X3 were sold, more than 600,000 worldwide.

But BMW listened well and during the first road test last week, it soon became clear that the X3 has been much improved. Not only are its looks now are on par with those of its bigger brother, the X5, but the interior has been worked over and is now in style with other BMW models, while the higher quality trim, with Leatherette standard, is definitely Bimmer-worthy.

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Perhaps the most damning complaint about the original compact SAV was its uncomfortable ride, but that has also been addressed very well, making the X3 another model for which the ‘Freude am Fahren,’ or ‘Joy in Driving’ tagline applies.


BMW Boosts Production at Spartanburg Plant – And Further Growth Could Follow

Key to corporate goal of boosting sales 55% by 2020.

by on Oct.21, 2010

BMW may have further growth plans for the newly-expanded assembly line in Spartanburg.

It may be a “German” automaker, but BMW is counting on its assembly plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to help drive its goal of increasing sales by 55% before the end of the coming decade.

And to get there, the maker is pumping an extra $750 million to expand the factory, known internally as plant 10, which has become its critical source for multipurpose vehicles like the X5 and the newly-updated X3.

“We will continue to invest” in Spartanburg, proclaimed BMW’s chief Nortbert Reithofer, who was present at a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the newly-expanded factory.

Though “plant 10” has produced a wide range of products since it first opened, nearly two decades ago, it today focuses on BMW’s so-called “sport-activity vehicles.”  And for good reason, considering the huge demand for such products in the States.  But sales are growing worldwide, making the Spartanburg plant today one of the biggest exporters – on a dollar basis – of any factory in the U.S.

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A full 70% of the vehicles produced in the South Carolina facility are exported.

Building demand with new models, such as the revised 2011 X3 is critical if BMW is to achieve the projects sales growth of 55% — to a total of 2 million vehicles per year — by 2020.

But Spartanburg alone won’t be able to handle that hefty increase, and Reithofer said that BMW needs to build an all-new plant, though he declined to name a location. Last April, on the eve of the Beijing Motor Show, he said that the X1 could be one of the models to be produced at the company’snew Chinese plant in Tiexi, in Shenyang province.

“Together with the Chinese authorities we are investigating the possibilities,” said Reithofer, adding that, the investment will be 560 million euro, half on the account of BMW and the other half on the account of its Chinese partner, Brilliance. The yearly capacity of the Tiexi plant is planned to be around 100,000 units in 2012.

The company started production in Spartanburg in 1994 with the 3-Series, followed by the Z3 and Z4. Since 1999 BMW has been using the factory to assemble the X5, and since 2008 the X6.

In the past sixteen years the plant produced more than 1.6 million vehicles overall. With the new extension the yearly capacity can be cranked up from 160,000 to 240,000 units.

The 1.2 million square-foot expansion includes a body shop, assembly hall and paint shop.

BMW started production of the second generation of the 2011 X3 in September. Approximately 1,600 extra jobs were opened up, in addition to the existing 6,000 employees. An external report states that directly and indirectly BMW generates 23,000 jobs in South Carolina.

BMW has been emphasizing the environmental friendliness of its American plant.  In Spartanburg the new paint shop uses the so-called IPP, or Integrated Paint Process, an electronically-managed system that eliminates several traditional steps, leading to a 30% decrease of energy usage and, consequently, to a 45% reduction in CO2-emissions.  That, the maker claims, is a savings of 92,000 tons per year.

Methane gas from a nearby landfill powers around half of the energy needs of the plant. Total savings amount to around $5 million per year.

The extension should allow BMW to remain the number one European premium brand on the U.S. market, it contends. But its German competitors, especially Mercedes-Benz, are closing the gap.

The second generation of the X3 will probably be joined by yet another model line. During the celebration in Spartanburg, Jim O’Donnell, president of BMW North America, said that BMW will introduce its small X1 model in this market in the first half of 2011.

Frank-Peter Arndt, BMW Group board member,  denied later that evening, the existence of such plans.

BMW’s philosophy is to build a model line in the country where it is best sold. With respect to the X3 the US market is good for 50% of worldwide sales.

The German newspaper Handelsblatt reported a day after the ceremony that BMW is considering building the 3-Series passenger car model in the US. It will be financially easier to compete with the C-Class that is produced in the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

First Look: BMW X3 M Sport

Paris preview for performance version of all-new Sport-Activity Vehicle.

by on Sep.29, 2010

An all-new BMW X3 will debut alongside a performance M Sport model at the Paris Motor Show.

Though it won’t make its official debut until the Paris Motor Show’s press preview, later this week, the world has already gotten a pretty good glimpse at the second-generation X3 Sport-Activity Vehicle.

Tauter, more aggressive and more refined, it will appear in several versions at the 2010 Mondial de l’Automobile, including a performance-oriented X3 M Sport, shown here.

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Developed by the Bavarian maker’s vaunted M division, the X3 M Sport gets a number of modifications, BMW says, to its “chassis, aerodynamics, exterior and interior components (which) allow for further optimization of the exceptional dynamics of the new BMW X3 as well as lending them a visually striking look.”


First Look: Refreshed BMW X3

German automaker focused fixing some weak areas.

by on Aug.13, 2010

Growing bigger runs counter to increased fuel economy regulations.

The original BMW X3 came as a shock to many fans of the brand for its excessively stiff ride as well as an interior that didn’t live up to the automaker’s usual standards, although it wasn’t noted much by media at the time.

So, the goals for the second generation of what BMW calls a Sport Activity Vehicle were obvious from the start: Fix the suspension and improve the interior.

While we haven’t had a chance to drive the new X3, the people in charge of the new trucklet say the suspension issues have been thoroughly worked out. And after sitting inside a pre-production X3 at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, we can report that the new interior is first rate. In fact, the some of the plastic in the production version will be even better than the prototype with less gloss.

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No interior pictures were provided on BMW’s media Web site and journalists were not allowed to take photos of the vehicle in Traverse City.