Rosslyn - The third-generation BMW X3, released in South Africa this week, arrives with a spread of four models, headed by the first M Performance model in the X3 range, the xDrive M40i.

Despite the name, this comes with a three-litre turbopetrol straight six, tuned for 265kW from 5500-6500 revs and 500Nm from 1520-4800rpm, driving all four wheels via an eight-speed Steptronic transmission which is common to all SA-market variants.

BMW quotes 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h.

Backing it up is the xDrive30i, with a two-litre turbopetrol four rated for 185kW at 5200rpm and 350Nm from 1450–4800rpm, 0-100 in 6.3 seconds and 240km/h flat out.

These will be followed in the third quarter of 2018 by the xDrive20i, with the same engine, downtuned to 135kW at 5000 revs and 290Nm from 1350–4600rpm, and the sDrive20i, with the same engine driving only the rear wheels.

In either case, BMW quotes 0-100 in 8.3 seconds and 215km/h flat out.

Filling up on the diesel side of the forecourt are the xDrive30d, boasting BMW's superlative three-litre turbodiesel straight six, mapped in this application for 195kW at 4000 revs and 620Nm from 2000-2500rpm (Expect to hit a hundred off the line in 5.8 seconds and top out at 240km/h) and the xDrive20d, with a 140kW/400Nm two-litre turbodiesel four rated at 140kW and 400Nm, good for 0-100 in eight seconds flat and 213 on the autobahn.

Broad-shouldered

The new X3 gets a chunkier look thanks to a bigger, three-dimensional kidney grille, hexagonal headlights, stronger bonnet lines and shorter front overhang, complemented by a 50mm longer wheelbase. Optional LED tail-light clusters also lend a 'three-dimensional' depth to the rear treatment.

Hexagonal styling cues and X's galore adorn the interior, which BMW says has more storage nooks and crannies in which to lose small items than ever before on an X3.

Acoustic glazing for the windscreen is standard and an option for the side front windows; more options, not previously available for the X3, include three-zone climate control, perforated leather climate driver and front passenger seats, and adjustable rear seatbacks, which fold flat to increase cargo bay capacity from 550 to 1600 litres.

The optional Display Key, a carryover from the 7 and 5 Series sedans, will operate the optional auxiliary heating and keep you informed about fuel levels, any service or maintenance work that's due, and whether the windows and sunroof are closed.

Standard kit includes 18-inch alloy wheels, replacing the previous generations' 17-inch, while wheels up to 21 inches in diameter can be ordered ex factory, as can dynamic damper control, M Sport suspension and brakes, and variable sport steering - except for the M40i, where they are standard issue.

The M40i also has an M aerodynamic package, and M Sport flap-controlled exhaust with black chrome tailpipe trims, an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission with launch control and paddle shift, 20-inch wheels, and Sports seats; adaptive M Sport suspension is an option.

All the BMW ConnectedDrive features of the 7 and 5 Series sedan are now available in the X3, including optional touch, gesture and voice control of the infotainment system, head-up display, intelligent emergency call, and all-round remote 3D view on your smartphone, as well as driver-assist features like active cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

For now, all X3s will be built at Spartanburg, North Carolina, with production at Rosslyn due to start in January 2018.

PRICES

xDrive 20d 140kW / 400NmR687 506
XDrive 30i185kW / 350NmR745 956
xDrive30d195kW / 620NmR873 088
xDrive M40i265kW / 500NmR1 000 676

IOL Motoring

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