2013 BMW 3 series
For 2011, BMW redesigned the X3 from the ground up. The second generation of the Baby Bimmer SAV (sport activity vehicle) was equipped with a larger body, more powerful engines and a more comfortable ride than its predecessor.
Two engines were offered at launch, a 240-horsepower/221 ft.-lb. 3.0-liter normally aspirated inline six, and a 300-horsepower/300 ft.-lb., turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six. Both used BMW’s eight-speed automatic transmission—no manual transmission was offered. For 2013, the normally aspirated engine will be dropped in favor of BMW’s new TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine.
The 2.0-liter powerplant also produces 240 horsepower, but rather than 221 ft-lbs of torque, the new engine is capable of 260 ft-lbs, from 1,250 rpm. This will improve the performance of the entry-level X3 model considerably.
As before, the effectiveness of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system is supplemented by the Performance Control feature, which adjusts torque split to the outside wheel deemed most beneficial to the cornering maneuver the X3 is undertaking. The system also applies brake pressure to a countering wheel to aid the process.
Ride and handling benefit from a wide track, along with a double-joint spring-strut suspension system in the front and a multi-link rear suspension arrangement. The X3’s optional Electronic Damping Control automatically adjusts the firmness of the shock absorbers to suit the situation.
While we have yet to experience the TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder in the X3, we have sampled that engine in the new 3 Series sedan and found it to be every bit worthy of the BMW logo. Its power output is smooth and exceptionally linear, the engine revs freely and sounds just like one of BMW’s six-cylinder engines.
We have tried the X3 with the 300-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine in the model designated with the somewhat lengthy moniker X3 xDrive 35i. (The four- cylinder version will be called X3 xDrive 28i.) Acceleration is robust, the ride is comfortable, and its handling is positively determined, just as we’ve been conditioned to expect from the purveyors of the ultimate driving machines.
With the six, even though X3 weighs over 4000 pounds, it flat flies when you pin the pedal. Acceleration to 60 from rest is quoted at 5.5 seconds. With the turbo four, 0-60 is an anticipated 6.5 seconds.
The interior is all business—with minimal frills. Generously spacious, it employs the revised fourth-generation iDrive system, introduced with the current 7-Series sedan. New features include the ability to read emails and text messaging aloud.
BMW’s Auto Start/Stop feature has also been incorporated into both the X3 xDrive28i and X3 xDrive35i. Auto Start/Stop is said to be capable of providing up to a three percent improvement in fuel economy. With the feature activated, the engine shuts down when the vehicle comes to a complete stop. If the driver’s foot is removed from the brake or the steering wheel is slightly turned, the engine re-starts automatically.
We’ve lived with it in the new 3 Series and find it slightly obtrusive, as the engine starts somewhat abruptly. We also wonder how it will affect the longevity of the starter motor, but otherwise it’s pretty seamless. If you don’t particularly care for it, Auto Start/Stop can be defeated via a button located next to the Start/Stop button.
Pricing starts at $39,395 for the xDrive28i and $44,495 for the xDrive35i (includes destination charges).