By Sala Masindane
The season for letting your hair down is upon us. On the social media streets, we call this season “Dezemba” or as commonly known as the festive season. During this time, many kilometres are spent on the road and usually with our loved ones. These travels usually require a spacious, reliable and in some instances, a car that can handle some off-roading. It comes as no surprise that BMW SA Group launched the 3rd generation of the X3 in the month of November, just before the December rush. Interestingly the X3 will be assembled here in South Africa at BMW’s Rosslyn plant from the second quarter of 2018 and will replace the 3-series production at the plant. BMW invested R6bn back in 2015 to prepare the Rosslyn plant for manufacturing of the new X3 and recently an additional R160million was pumped into the plant to enhance the production line speed. This will increase the units produced from 71000 to 76000.
The X3 will be available in 3 trims, xLine, Luxury Line and M Sport, with an option of a turbo petrol or a diesel engine. The X3 engine range will comprise of the xDrive20d with 140kW, xDrive30i pushing out 185kW, xDrive30d with 195kW and M40i with 265kW. The latter will be making its debut on the X3 range and its 3.0 litre 6-cylinder petrol engine will be paired with a standard 8 speed Sports Automatic Transmission (which is optional for the rest of the range).
The new X3 has grown up from the two previous generations, literally. We wouldn’t be surprised if it was mistaken for an X5, being almost the same size as the 1st generation X5. The “kidney” grille has been updated with an active air flag control meaning these vents can shut at high speed to assist with the aerodynamics of the car. The new LED headlights and fog lights standout in the front view of the car. The rear is fitted with the 3D lights, which makes the car easily distinguishable. The X3 wears 18-inch wheels and tyres, apart from the M40i which is on 21-inch.
We wouldn’t be surprised if you mistook the interior of the X3 for a BMW 7 or 5 series which is not an entirely bad thing. The exciting features of those cars have been adopted to the new X3. These standard features include iDrive, multifunctional leather steering wheel and 10-inch infotainment touchscreen with gesture control. Your safety is also taken care off, with semi-autonomous driving, adaptive cruise control and lane keep aid.
On launch, we had the privilege of driving the new xDrive30d and M40i. The drive was comfortable on the N2 to Knysna or the dusty gravel terrain of the Phantom pass. The X3 was never out of place and felt at home. However, the M40i stood out, rightfully so. Its body kit, the M sport bucket seats and sound to match any vrrpha on the road. The M40i will create stiff competition for the Jaguar F-Pace S and Audi SQ5.
The BMW X3 is priced as follows:
The above pricing includes BMW 5-year/100 000km motorplan.
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