2011 BMW X3
2011 BMW X3. Click image to enlarge

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By Grant Yoxon; photos courtesy BMW

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2011 BMW X3

Toronto, Ontario – Franz Jung, BMW Group Canada’s President and Chief Executive Officer, expects his company to “have another record year” in 2010. With 17,413 sales to the end of August and the company running 1,332 units ahead of last year at this time, the candid chief executive may be right.

However, while BMW Group Canada held the lead in luxury car sales last year, just ahead of Mercedes-Benz, this year BMW is in second place behind its German rival.

While Jung would like to retain the top spot, it is not BMW’s most important goal. More important than bragging rights are higher sales and higher profits, he said. “We will not spend more than last year to sell cars,” adding that 2009 was a difficult and unique year for BMW as well as all other auto manufacturers. The fact that BMW increased its sales and maintained its lead position despite the economic climate and a product line-up that is aging compared to Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Japanese luxury brands, is a source of pride for Jung. A new 5-Series helped spur sales but could have done better if the Canadian subsidiary could have got more cars to sell, he noted.

2011 BMW X3
2011 BMW X3
2011 BMW X3. Click image to enlarge

To demonstrate that BMW is not sitting still while the competition takes over the sales lead, Jung detailed his company’s strategy to make its product more relevant for Canadians, including a move to AWD as the standard in Canada.

As well, he provided details on a Canadian-only 323i luxury package that will include automatic transmission, power sun roof, power front seats, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and 17-inch alloy wheels.

But the highlight of the product strategy was a first glimpse of the X3 sport activity vehicle which will be revealed in Paris later this month. Jung believes the second generation X3 will help boost Canadian sales “over 30,000 units down the road.”

At first glance the exterior design changes are not obvious, but subtle changes – larger wheel arch flares, a higher belt line, larger kidney grille, contour lines in the hood and a revamped front apron convey a more rugged image. BMW’s signature “Corona Rings” are again illuminated to function as the daytime running lights. When equipped with the optional Xenon headlights, the Corona Rings and daytime running lights are illuminated by bright white LEDs. The tailgate has been completely redesigned with more curves than the angular piece of the previous generation and taillights that sweep up to the outside corners.

Dimensionally, compared to its predecessor the new X3 is 12 mm taller, 83 mm longer, 28 mm wider, and features 12 mm more ground clearance. It rides on a wheelbase which is 15 mm longer, at 2810 mm. The larger dimensions translate into more rear storage space and better elbow and leg room for rear seat passengers.

2011 BMW X3
2011 BMW X3
2011 BMW X3. Click image to enlarge

Interior changes are quite significant and simple words can’t convey the differences here. However, the design remains true to BMW’s design strategy with a driver oriented cockpit, asymmetrically designed center console, raised seating position and 360-degree visibility. The Central Display of the optional navigation system with fourth generation BMW iDrive features a 22-cm high-resolution trans-reflective screen that is the largest on-board monitor in its vehicle segment.

The entry-level X3 xDrive 28i will feature BMW’s 3.0-litre inline six cylinder engine that produces 240 hp and 230 lb-ft of torque and, in the new X3, propels the vehicle to 100 km/h in about 7.1 seconds, a half-second improvement over the previous generation.

New at the top of the X3 range will be the X3 xDrive 35i which will feature BMW’s newest turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine combining direct fuel injection, twin-scroll turbo technology and Valvetronic. This engine develops a maximum output of 300 hp at 5,800 r.p.m., with peak torque of 300 lb.-ft. Redline is 7,000 r.p.m. Acceleration from zero to 100 km/h is anticipated to be in the range of 5.8 seconds.

The new X3 features an 8-speed automatic transmission. Taller cruising gears help reduce fuel consumption, emission and noise, while a wider spread of ratios from lowest to highest gear enhances acceleration and response. The new transmission will allow direct shifts from 8th gear to 2nd gear for maximum acceleration. The new X3 will also have the latest upgrades to BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system.

The 2011 X3 will be built at BMW’s newly-expanded Spartanburg, North Carolina plant which currently produces the X5 and X6. The X3 is expected to arrive in Canadian showrooms in early 2011.

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