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by Tim Beissmann

BMW has unveiled the all-new 2011 BMW X3 with a new engine line-up, eight-speed automatic transmissions and more tech features to make it safer, better on the road and kinder to the environment.

At 4648mm long, 1881mm wide and 1661mm tall, the new X3 is around 79mm longer, 28mm wider and 13mm lower than the model it replaces, while the wheelbase has also grown 15mm to 2810mm.

Luggage capacity is now 550 litres (up from 480 litres) and swells to 1600 litres with the 20:40:20 rear seats folded completely flat.

A petrol and a diesel variant of the new X3 will be offered from the vehicle’s launch, with more models set to follow in the future.

The 2.0-litre xDrive20d delivers 135kW of power and 380Nm of torque (up 5kW and 30Nm from the outgoing model), and accelerates from 0-100km/h in 8.5 seconds. Available with both a standard six-speed manual transmission and the new eight-speed automatic, the Euro V-compliant xDrive20d uses a tidy 5.6 litres/100km of fuel on the European combined cycle and emits 149g/km CO2 (147g/km auto).

The xDrive35i is powered by a 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo petrol engine which generates 225kW and 400Nm (up from 200kW and 315Nm of the xDrive30i). The eight-speed auto is standard and combines for a 0-100km/h time of 5.7 seconds, fuel consumption of 8.8 litres/100km and CO2 emissions of 204g/km. The xDrive35i’s 245km/h top speed is 35km/h faster than that of the diesel.

Teamed with the automatic transmission for the first time is Auto Start/Stop, which kills the engine when the vehicle stops and restarts when the driver takes their foot off the brake pedal. Auto Start/Stop is also standard with the diesel engine.

Electronic power steering including BMW’s Servotronic function for speed-dependent power steering is also incorporated into the X3 for the first time, improving the vehicle’s handling and precision.

As expected, six airbags, stability control, dynamic traction control and hill descent control head a long list of standard safety and stability systems on the new model. Optional extras include adaptive cornering headlights, high beam assistant, reversing camera with Top View, head-up display, speed control with braking function and automatic/advanced emergency call.

Outside, the X3 maintains its urban yet capable appearance, combining a flatter front end, higher rear and more of BMW’s convex/concave surface highlights for a tidy, modern package.

The headlights contain bright white LED light rings while the taillights adopt the family LED “night-time” smokey design.

Inside, BMW says the seating position has been raised for more convenient entry while the new 8.8in high-resolution centre display is the largest on-board monitor in its segment.

Optional features include internet access, BMW Online with parking information, Google connectivity and Bluetooth audio streaming and online.

BMW Australia has confirmed that the all-new 2011 BMW X3 will arrive in Australia in the first half of next year.




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