FIRST DRIVE | 2021 BMW X3 enjoys fresh styling and updated tech

07 October 2021 - 07:54
The kidney grille and matrix headlamps are redesigned. Photo: PHUTI MPYANE
The kidney grille and matrix headlamps are redesigned. Photo: PHUTI MPYANE

BMW has launched a facelifted version of its locally built X3 in SA.

If you’re looking for bloodlines there’s plenty of history and future in its styling. Both the 20d and M40i which I drove at the launch on Gauteng and Northwest roads were fitted with the M Sport package.

The silhouette that projects sportiness and practicality remains but the front is heavily revised with a redesign of the kidney grille with a camera pod in between, sharper-looking matrix headlamps with the option of BMW Laser light technology that illuminates 650m ahead, and a more aggressive looking bumper especially on the M40i models.

The rear light clusters with LED lamps are now bold and bulbous items while new alloy wheels along with paints that include a new Skyscraper grey and Brooklyn grey metallic (pictured) add to the slick looks that show a clearer link between the X3 and the larger X7.

A tastefully arranged cabin shows plenty of BMW’s digital savvy and luxury textures. It gets a free-standing, 12.3-inch main display, sports seats covered in new materials and three-zone climate control as part of an ample catalogue.

BMW has also made the operation of the menus less complex. Connectivity to smartphones is by wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto while Google Maps instructions are now integrated into the head-up display when fitted.

A free-standing infotainment system and sports seats covered in new materials are part of an ample catalogue.
A free-standing infotainment system and sports seats covered in new materials are part of an ample catalogue.
Image: Supplied

The voice-activated “Hey BMW” personal assistant is also there and it can now read the news from integrated new apps. Further enhancements see it also able to open or close windows or change driving modes when commanded.  

The updated X3 arrives with five engine options: three diesels in 2l 18d, 20d and 3l 30d; and two petrols comprising the four-cylinder 20i and six-cylinder M40i all paired with eight-speed automatic transmissions as standard. I sampled the latter pair and the smaller petrol engine has the refinement, power and frugality nugget nailed while the M40i feels like a sensible performance chariot.  

The M40i is sufficiently grippy through bends and the engine bellows and pushes forward with pleasing vigour.

Driving Assistance Professional is now available in the X3. Functions of this system include emergency lane assist, active cruise control and junction warning with city brake and improved autonomous steering between lanes. There’s also Parking Assistance Plus, a reverse assistance and an optional new BMW drive recorder which captures videos as the car drives.

The X3s are also designed with an eye on mild off-road driving and thus can be fitted with an ABS-operated hill-descent control function, as well as under body protection.  

Pricing

BMW X3 sDrive18d — R895,658

BMW X3 sDrive20i — R939,798

BMW X3 xDrive20d — R997,176

BMW X3 sDrive18d M Sport — R935,658

BMW X3 sDrive20i M Sport — R979,798

BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport — R1,037,176

BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport — R1,210,764

BMW X3 M40i — R1,415,042

Prices include a two-year/unlimited km warranty and five-year/100,000km maintenance plan.


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