The last time we got the opportunity to drive the BMW X3 range was just as it rolled off the production line at BMW Group Plant Rosslyn in April 2018 after, it’s R6.2bn production line upgrade from the outgoing BMW 3 series. This was the biggest investment of its kind at the time for BMW Group South Africa, with 95% of their locally manufactured X3’s destined for export to 30 global markets. When they reached the 200 000th BMW X3 at Plant Rosslyn on the 6 August of this year, there was good reason to celebrate for the 40 000 employed, directly and indirectly, manufacturing this proudly South African product.
The new refreshed looking BMW X3 has even more optional extras as standard in the model line-up than ever before. BMW stated at the launch that South Africans can look forward to an even better specification standard in the range. The new look and improved equipment offering includes a new front with larger BMW kidney grille and streamlined headlights which have been redesigned along with the front apron and rear bumper. The updated look is rounded off with a modern interior with new equipment features and updated infotainment, underlined by the optional M Sport package.
Five drivetrains are available in the range which include three diesel engines: with 110 kW in the BMW X3 sDrive18d, the 140 kW BMW X3 xDrive20d, and 195 kW in the BMW X3 xDrive30d. The petrol engine models are the BMW X3 sDrive20i with 135 kW, and the fiery BMW X3 M40i with 285 kW. All are driven by BMW’s eight-speed Steptronic gearboxes. The top of the range BMW X3 M40i features an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission, including paddle shifts and Launch Control, as standard.
We got behind of the wheel of the BMW X3 M40i and BMW X3 xDrive20d at the launch. The BMW X3 xDrive20d with a claimed 5.5/100km/h consumption performed impeccably as it made short work of our drive to our overnight stay in the North West province. Seated in the lap of luxury, the combination of XDrive all-wheel drive and the even power to weight distribution allows for super smooth performance. By the end of the drive I probably would make BMW X3 xDrive20d the pick of the range, just because of it is more than adequate delivery from its 6 cylinder bi-turbo and super sipper abilities.
Saving the best for last on our return to Johannesburg the following day, we enjoyed the fiery BMW X3 M40i. There were great short mountain passes enroute and no shortage of precise power delivery thanks to its 3.0 ltr six cylinder bi-turbo plant which gets you to 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds.
With Plant Rosslyn being the first ever BMW plant build outside of Germany in 1968, the South African build quality of the latest BMW X3’s are simply outstanding and testament to the degree of development BMW have invested into the country. They have instilled a great level of pride in their people which can be seen and felt in the quality of product when driving the new BMW X3.
Prices of the new BMW xDrive20d start at R997 176 and the BMW M40i at R1 415 042.
By Jay Groat