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BMW X3: Three times as better

Friday, December 22, 2017

ATL Autobhan's new showroom on Lady Musgrave Road in St Andrew may have been the place to be on its December 9 launch, but the real hot property was inside. Also making its local debut, the 2018 BMW X3.

“We are the first in the Caribbean to stock the new 2018 X3,” Sloane Jackson, head of business for BMW and MINI, told Jamaica Observer's Auto magazine.

While the big reveal done by Beenie Man, the third generation of BMW's premium small SUV had more than enough presence to stand alone. The X3 is new from the ground up to bring it in line with the rest of BMW X model, allowing it to be fitted with the latest in safety features and technology, while increasing its driving dynamics.

That starts on the outside, where the X3 now follows the visual system of its larger sibling, the X5. Only five centimetres has been added to the wheel-base to give it a near perfect sports car-like 50:50 weight distribution. A significant factor is that this model will be the first X3 to get the M Performance treatment.

“Not only is ATL Autobahn the first in the region to have the X3, we have all three trim levels,” Jackson added.

The X3 will continue to have its gas and diesel options; however it gets a range-topping M40i trim boasting a three-litre twin power turbocharged six-cylinder engine that outputs 360bhp and can get the X3 to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds. It handles all that power through an eight-speed transmission equipped with launch control and xDrive, BMW's intelligent all-wheel drive system. The X3 M40i can't be missed with its trim specific 20-inch wheels and aggressive engine note from its M Sport exhaust system. The other trims aren't slouches either, with the X3 xDrive20i having 184bhp. Those looking for maximum fuel efficiency have two diesel options, a turbocharged four and six cylinder offering up 190bhp and 265bhp, respectively.

Inside, the materials and fit and finish are above the expectations for the class, but in line with BMW's history of driver-focused ergonomics, mixed with the practicality of an SUV due to having more functionality and storage capacity than the previous model. Standard load capacity is 550 litres, which triples to 1,600 litres when the 40:20:20 split rear seats are fully in use. New for the 2018 version, the trim levels have a more significant differentiation tailored to expected use. However, BMW's individual customisation options still exist on top of premium standard features such as three-zone automatic climate control. Examples of trim specificity can be seen in the M40i, which receives a bespoke leather steering wheel and seats, among other M Performance trim details.

Tech is a BMW hallmark and the infotainment can be upgraded to the BMW Professional system indicated by a 10.25-inch wide-screen display. The iDrive rotary controller is just one way to access the functions along with the touchscreen. Gesture control, the functionality found in BMW's flagship 5 and 7 series sedans, now makes its debut in the X3. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity join the industry standard Bluetooth and USB across the range. Also taken from the sedans is the BMW Display Key that moves keyless entry to the next level, by being able to relay live data like fuel levels and interior temperature before getting inside.

“The 2018 X3 is already a sales hit for us. It's a vast improvement over the old model and better than what the competition is offering in the same market segment,” Jackson said.