BMW's X3 soft-roader has been enhanced with a few styling tweaks, and the addition of two new six-cylinder petrol units to the line-up.
At the time of its initial launch, BMW's X3 was somewhat out of styling tune with the rest of the crew from Munich. However, the model?s mid-life changes now show styling more in step with that of its second-generation big brother X5 which launches locally in May this year.
As far as the X3 goes, the styling changes are rather dramatic. It gets a new front apron, body-coloured bumpers, new fog lamps and bi-xenon headlamps, a larger double kidney section and a larger airdam at the front.
At the rear, revised X3's get a new rear light arrangement with LEDs, a fresh rear apron and different reflectors.
On the inside, the SAV (yet another acronym, this time for sports activity vehicle) gets a new steering wheel, decorative strips across the facia and this time around those pesky door nets have been replaced with proper bins.
But the biggest news is undoubtedly the addition of two six-cylinders to the range in the form of the 2.5si and 3.0si first introduced in the 3 Series. These petrol units use aluminium and magnesium crankcases resulting in engines that are about 10 kg lighter than their predecessors and push out 19 kW more, in the case of the 2.5 litre, and 30 kW more on the 3.0 litre.
Existing engines include the 2.0- and the 3.0 litre turbodiesel engines.
The 2.0 litre produces 110 kW at 4 000 r/min and peak torque of 330 Nm at 2 000 r/min. BMW claims that the X3, when fitted with this unit, is capable of of a 10.2 second 0 - 100 km/h acceleration time, and a top speed of 198 km/h. Fuel consumption on a combined cycle is 7.2 l/100 km.
Mated with the six-speed manual box, driving the little turbodiesel wass rather pleasurable, though extracting any kind of performance from it from below the 2 000 r/min mark was a rather useless exercise. For regular town driving though, the 2.0 litre is more than capable.
The 3.0 litre turbodiesel tops the range, and this all-aluminium straight-six unit is good for peak outputs of 160 kW and 480 Nm at 4 000 and from 1 750 to 2 750 r/min, respectively. This model sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.7 seconds and (when fitted with the optional sports package) hits a top end of 220 km/h. Fuel consumption is quoted as 8.6 l/100km on the combined cycle.
The 2.5 litre unit produces 160 kW at 6 500 r/min and peak torque of 250 Nm from 2 750 to 4 250 r/min.
According to BMW, when mated with the six-speed manual, this model is able to sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in 8.2 seconds and has a top speed of 220 km/h. This model has just recently gone into production and will be available in South Africa shortly.
However, the 200-kW 3.0 litre petrol unit (with power available at 6 650 r/min and a peak torque figure of 315 Nm at 2 750 r/min) was very comfortable on the twisting roads surrounding Tzaneen that formed part of the old coach route to the north in the time of the early explorers.
However, this model is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission which somehow creates the impression that this version is a lot lazier than what it actually is. A quick glance at the dials is enough to set the record straight, though.
While it's not recommended that you attempt any serious off-roading in the X3, the SAV handled the fairly fast, and at times a bit challenging, gravel sections encountered on the route with real aplomb.
Models equipped with the M Sport kit, with aerodynamic package, aluminium interior accents and 19-inch wheels, should approach off-tar pursuits with more care.
BMW's highly successful XDrive system - almost 600 000 vehicles bearing this nomenclature have been sold since 2004 - has also been revised.
While still featuring a 40/60 torque distribution with integrated chassis management, on this X3 the permanent all-wheel drive system features dynamic traction control (DTC) for the first time on an X-model. The traction control system can be deactivated, but when in use, allows for higher slip and yaw angles and later intervention by the engine and braking systems.
The DSC system also comes with more functions, including an easier hill start feature on manual models, and brake compensation to minimise fading. Regular dry braking is activated when the windscreen wipers are switched on, and other functions include automatic stability control, hill descent control, trailer stability control and cornering brake control.
Optional equipment includes 18-inch wheels, (17-inchers are optional), comfort seats with added shoulder support, heated seats at the front and rear, turning lights with corona park lights, two-piece panoramic sunroofs, and navigational equipment.
2.0d R386 000 (manual)
2.5si R437 500 (manual) / R451 600 (auto)
3.0si R484 000 (auto)
3.0d R499 500 (auto)
MSport option +R23 600
Exclusive option +R23 600 (6-cylinder) / +R27 800 (4-cylinder)