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BMW X3 can brave tough roads

Full overhaul with sleeker design brings the model into 2018
Nov 27,2017
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BMW has completely revamped its X3 sport utility vehicle for 2018. The third-generation model comes seven years after the X3’s last full overhaul. The vehicle’s xDrive system offers adaptive four-wheel drive for tough road conditions. [BMW KOREA]
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Interior of the BMW X3. [BMW KOREA]
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Korea’s premium SUV market has just begun to ripen, with import car brands continuously bringing in new models to meet rising demand here. Options include Mercedes-Benz’ GLC and GLC Coupe, Volvo’s XC60 and even Land Rover’s Discovery Sports and Evoque.

To compete, BMW has upped the ante with its new midsize X3 SUV. The German automaker is fully overhauling the model for the first time in seven years, hoping to differentiate itself from other premium midsize SUVs in the Korean market by providing powerful and tough driving performance.

BMW first launched the X3 in 2003 and has since sold 1.6 million of the cars worldwide. It hopes to sell two million of the new model globally.

In Korea, the goal is to sell 2,000 each year.

To experience what the new X3 has to offer, this reporter got behind the wheel of an X3 xDrive30d M Sport Package trim last week on a 200-kilometer (124-mile) course from southern Seoul to Yeoju in Gyeonggi. The route included a one-hour off-road course with a gravel bed, sandy road and river crossing.

At first glance, the car’s exterior does not appear much different from previous generations. But upon closer examination, the signature kidney grille on the front has gotten bigger, and BMW has redesigned the fog lamp with a sleeker, modern look.

The overall size hasn’t changed much, but the wheel base has gotten longer by 5 centimeters (1.9 inches), giving the impression that the car has gotten longer when seen from the side. The overhang has been shortened in the front to put the weight in perfect proportion with the back.

According to the company, the car has gotten lighter by 55 kilograms (120 pounds).

Taking it on both urban roads and the highway, it was apparent that the car’s strength comes from the rumbling charm of an SUV. The acceleration was smooth, but the engine noise was apparent. The steering wheel felt clunky and heavy, but the car still offered stable driving performance.

Such features proved useful on off-road courses with unexpected conditions like large pebbles and fine sand. The xDrive system’s adaptive four-wheel drive helped this reporter finish the rough course without much trouble. On a difficult sandy portion, the wheels and damper changed on their own to absorb the shock from the terrain and balance the car.

The latest model comes equipped with a four-cylinder or six-cylinder twin power turbo diesel engine, with the former producing a maximum horsepower of 190. The latter produces maximum horsepower of 265.

The four-cylinder model’s fuel efficiency is 12.1 kilometers per liter (28.5 miles per gallon), while the six-cylinder model’s fuel efficiency is 11.3 kilometers per liter.

The sticker price starts from 65.8 million won ($60,700).


BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]