The 2015 BMW X3 SAV was unwrapped at the Chicago Auto Show this weekend, and though appearance-wise there are no real advancements, changes under the sheet metal tell a different story. The biggest change there was the addition of a new diesel engine. More about that below.
First off, deal with BMW’s nomenclature. It appears the SUV has gone the way of the dinosaur. SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) have been around since the original Ford Explorer and when originally introduced were based on light truck platforms. The SUV moniker was marketing jazz for a vehicle that was a jack of all trades. They quite often had 4-wheel drive, big wheels, could get moderately dirty, and pull a boat to the lake on weekends. As the market evolved and more drivers saw the benefit of having a versatile vehicle, but hardly ever took them off road, the manufacturers starting making crossovers. A crossover fit the same versatile definition as an SUV, but became more refined, and was increasingly built on car platforms which offered plusher rides and better fuel consumption.
Which is great, except BMW saw that ugly “Utility” word in the middle. BMWs are many things…but they would never confess to being utilitarian! The word implies compromising comfort and sophistication for job performance, the vision of a Quonset hut comes to mind. To clarify their philosophy they abandoned the SUV for the SAV, or Sports Activity Vehicle. The SAV was a better fit as any kind of activity was seen better than stark utility. Unfortunately for BMW, the Chicago Auto Show organizers didn’t receive the memo, they have the X3 down in the CUV (Crossover-Utility Vehicles) section.
Enough with names. The BMW X3 is the middle sibling to the X1 and X5 and suffers no identity issues. It is unmistakably BMW and signals its arrival with the iconic kidney shaped grill. Flanking the grill are twin sets of circular headlights that slide away nicely to create something of a bow-tie appearance. Below the grill is a larger central air intake which is flanked by two smaller intakes. New bumpers front and rear give the X3 a more modern look and dynamic feel. The two main trim packages will be M Sport and the xLine. The former will upgrade suspension and steering while adding some performance styling cues, while the latter will compliment with aluminum accents in the bumpers, intakes and door-sills.
Inside the interior is made from high quality materials with aluminum accents. There is a 40-20-40 rear seat configuration that offers good adjustability. All in all, it is well thought out and compliments the whole BMW experience, though nothing screams out as being revolutionary. It is nothing more than what you would expect from a BMW, and nothing less.
It is under the hood of the BMW X3 that has seen the most changes, specifically the new generation diesel engine. It is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder unit that will be offered in AWD and 2-wheel rear drive models. BMW touts the new X3 as a vehicle that, “combines driving pleasure with the highest efficiency.” According to BMW the new diesel in the X3 sDrive18d mated with a manual gearbox delivers 50 mpg (US). Fleshing out the lineup is a 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six. The six will cost close to $46,000, the diesel AWD variant around $43,000, and the 2-wheel drive version a shade over $39,000.
BMW states; “It is more dynamic, more functional, and more efficient. It is the perfect car for family, business, and leisure.” So back to that nomenclature thing. The quote above came directly from BMW. They called the X3 a car. Whatever name the X3 goes by, car, CUV, SUV, or SAV, the DNA in the 2015 BMW X3 diesel is always present and offers up a sweet ride at the Chicago Auto Show.
By Scott Wilson