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BMW X3 2011 review

BMW's new second-generation X3 mid-size luxury SUV is all about more and less and Audi's segment-leading Q5 is squarely in its sights. 

In the "more" department, there is more standard and optional technology, more exterior size and interior space and more value for money while on the "less" side of the ledger - at least for two of the models - less money is required to put one in your garage and less fuel is required to run them. 


The new Beemer is longer than the outgoing model, wider and taller - nearly as big as the original X5. There is a 40/20/40 split-fold rear-seat arrangement and with the seats occupied, 550 litres of luggage space nearly three times that with the seat backs down. 


For the new range, there are three models each starting their moniker with xDrive. The entry-level offering is the $62,200 turbo-diesel-powered 20d and it is followed by the 28i at $71,900 and the range-topper is the 30d turbo-diesel with its $74,900 price tag.

All three have the latest eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. The entry-level model's $62,200 pricing is unchanged (with more kit), the 28i is $3400 less than before and 30d has been cut by $2500 (with $10K more kit).


The 20d and the 28i are available now with the 30d is a couple of months away. The 20d runs a powerful 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine with 135kW/380Nm. Claimed fuel consumption is 5.6litres/100km. Opt for the only petrol-powered X3 in the range - the 28i - and you'll have at your disposal a 3.0-litre straight-six engine that is good for 190kW/310Nm. Buyers of the 30d can look forward to 190kW/560Nm. 

New styling gives X3 a stronger road presence. All three models come with an impressive array of fancy hi-tech goodies and the two diesel models have a BMW "first" - an idle/stop system for an automatic vehicle. All three versions are fitted with a brake-energy-regeneration system to save fuel. 

Other across-the-range standard kit includes BMW's latest iDrive driver interface, a reversing camera, a high-resolution 6.5-inch colour screen, aluminium roof rails, USB audio and Bluetooth mobile-phone connectivity, dual-zone automatic climate-control air conditioning, electric power steering, keyless entry. 


Electronic driver-aids include a permanent four-wheel-drive system that ensures variable torque distribution between the front-and-rear axles. It's linked to the vehicle's dynamic stability-control system. There is an new suspension set-up that has noticeable improved ride and handling and fuel-saving electric power steering is a "first" for a BMW xDrive model. 

Out on the road during the media-launch drive program the two models we sampled - the 20d and the 28i - proved themselves to be impressive performers with excellent overall driving dynamics. For its part, the two-litre turbo-diesel version did its best work climbing hills and overtaking in third or fourth gears using manual shifting. 

The three-litre petrol version also performed impressively and BMW engineers are to be commended for the fuel-economy gains and handling improvements they have achieved. Both models are noticeably quieter and comfort levels have also been improved.

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Range and Specs

xDrive 20d 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $13,990 – 24,990 2011 BMW X3 2011 xDrive 20d Pricing and Specs
xDrive 20d Lifestyle 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $13,750 – 18,150 2011 BMW X3 2011 xDrive 20d Lifestyle Pricing and Specs
xDrive 20i 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $14,740 – 19,360 2011 BMW X3 2011 xDrive 20i Pricing and Specs
xDrive 25i Lifestyle 2.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $17,820 – 22,550 2011 BMW X3 2011 xDrive 25i Lifestyle Pricing and Specs
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