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.
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.
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While the 2018 BMW X3 isn’t dramatically redesigned it, nonetheless, gets all-new sheet metal picking up on the design cues we previously saw debut on the flagship X5 SAV, as well as the smaller X1. That includes headlights that no longer flow directly into the classic kidney grille. The grille itself adopted a more three-dimensional appearance, with updated foglamps below.
The overall look has clearly been shaped with the wind tunnel’s help. There’s a more downward-sloping roof with an integrated roof spoiler. , as well as active grille shutters and new underbody cladding.
Pull out the tape measure and you’ll discover the overall length of the 2018 BMW X3 has grown by 2 inches, the wheelbase up by 2.2 inches. Most of that appears to have gone into the cabin, especially the back seat.
BMW claims to have improved the weight balance on the new model, now 50:50 front-to-back, while also reducing both overall and unsprung mass.
Inside, the X3 gets a more upgraded and refined appearance – as well as a split 40:20:40 back seat where each segment now can be adjusted individual. There also are some welcome technologies. The optional, full-color head-up display is 75% larger, while the primary, iDrive-controlled screen grows to 10.25 inches. And the 2018 X3 is the latest BMW model to adopt the gesture control technology we first saw on the 7-Series remake two years ago.
There’s plenty of new safety technology, as well, from front crash mitigation to cross-traffic alert and lane-keep assist.
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For performance fans, the big news for 2018 will surely be the arrival of the M Performance edition, dubbed the BMW X3 M40i. Its 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six makes a solid 355 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque – 55 and 69 more than the top-line X3 could deliver in 2017 and it will get you from 0 to 60 in a factory estimated 4.6 seconds.
Take the M off the spec sheet at the twin-turbo six still manages to deliver 335 horsepower. Even the base car is no slouch, its 248-hp TwinPower turbo-four getting you to six in six seconds flat. Mileage is expected to improve, in part, due to the eight-speed automatic it’s paired with.
Look for mileage and pricing information to be released shortly before the various versions of the 2018 BMW X3 roll into showrooms in November.
(What’s Jaguar planning with the new E-Pace? Click Here to find out.)