Launch review: BMW X3


BMW launched their new X3 this week. Drivers can now get a wider range of spec as standard to add sportiness to the line and give it what BMW says is more of the X feel. The main change to the design can be seen in the front grille and BMW has adopted a customer-centric approach to their driver experience.


Customer-centric structure

BMW’s customer-centric approach extends right into their vehicles. This is the main reason that spec that customers had to previously add onto the X3 now come standard across the range. This includes features such as high-beam assist and 19-inch wheels.

Changes to expect

According to BMW, the brand hopes to achieve clarity through deliberate reduction to the X3 so their changes are limited but clear. The greatest and most noticeable change is to the front of the vehicle. The biggest differentiation is seen in the new kidney grille which has been made bigger. Other revisions can be seen in the front rim and the addition of aluminium to make the X3 look more modern.


The rear has also undergone an all-round change. It now looks narrower, more distinct and essentially sportier than before. The additional underside protection also adds to the sporty look. Many of the modifications made are intended to draw it closer to the M series.


The product manager of the X series, Nathi Mlotshwa, says one of his favourite new features is the horizontal turn signals integrated in filigree style. It is rather impressive and plays a large role in transforming the look.


Other changes to the exterior include:

  • Headlights are 10mm flatter
  • LED adaptive headlights with Matrix function to replace the previously separate fog lights
  • Vertical air intakes arranged in a triangle frame the front bumper
  • Black borders around the LED lights in the rear
  • Flush-fitting free-form tailpipe trims are larger and sportier
  • The M sports package features significantly larger air inlets and inserts finished in high-gloss black, more pronounced air curtains, high-gloss black options for various features, sportier rear bumper, two additional side air‑curtain‑panels in high-gloss black. The standard trim includes the new 20-inch Double‑Spoke 699 M alloy wheels, and the M sports brake with blue or red brake calipers
  • Further M insignia on M Performance cars
  • Two new paint finishes (the Skyscraper Grey is particularly eye-catching)


Interior changes

The Driving Assistant Professional package is now standard across the range and features a larger, 12.3 inch screen in the infotainment system, improved sound system and much more that drivers previously had to add on with a basic X3.


The X3 is fully digitised throughout and allows the driver to do everything they could possibly need while in a vehicle. Drivers can even do a remote software upgrade and update certain features so that they also have the latest tech.


On the first day of the drive, I had the chance to drive the whole way there without swapping drivers. The last stretch of the drive stretched slightly past two hours and the X3‘s Driving Assistant Professional warned us that it was time for the driver to take a break, which I know about in principle, but was my first time experiencing it. To say I appreciated the importance of that particular driver safety feature is an understatement.


Instruments and optional extras were reduced by 30% to reduce the complexity of the vehicle and further add to the customer-centricity of the vehicle. Their objective is to make the X3 more intuitive.


Other changes to the interior include:

  • Adoption of the current X4 series
  • Automatic climate control with 3-zone control
  • Sports seats with covers from a new Sensatec generation and with perforated main seat surfaces
  • Newly designed centre console
  • Electroplated trim elements on the air vents


The drive

I found the X3 to be an incredibly enjoyable car to drive. It was responsive, handled excellently and you could feel that the car was designed around the driver and their needs. Out of all the BMWs I have driven, all from different series, the X3 is now my favourite.


Five engine options will be available in South Africa. These include three diesel engines: with 110 kW in the BMW X3 sDrive18d, the 140-kW BMW X3 xDrive20d, and 195 kW in the BMW X3 xDrive30d.


The petrol engine models are the BMW X3 sDrive20i with 135 kW, and the BMW X3 M40i with 285 kW.


We stopped for a re-fuel on the first day and I was quite impressed with the performance of the diesel variant. After driving a considerable route (considering how little diesel was used) I landed up only refilling with 12 litres.


What else to expect from the BMW X3:

  • 8-speed Steptronic transmission standard
  • Active Cruise Control
  • Junction warning with additional city brake function
  • Emergency lane assistant
  • Improved steering/lane guidance assistant
  • 3D environment visualisation Assisted View
  • Improved Driving Assistant Professional
  • Parking Assistant Plus now includes the reverse assistant, which helps retrace a completed line in reverse
  • Another new feature is the optional BMW Drive Recorder, which takes videos around the vehicle
  • New generation navigation
  • Smartphone connectivity and integration of third-party services


BMW says the difference in pricing is not massive (price between R895 658 and R 1 414 042) especially once you consider how much more spec is available with the X3. You can do everything in the BMW X3 without needing to add any spec.


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