The first-gen X3 (known as the “E83″) stops its build in early August of this year at the Magna Steyr plant in Graz, Austria, and by then, the model will have sold over 600,000 units worldwide, making it the global sales king in its segment. A new production line at BMW’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is already ramping up for the 2012 BMW X3.
Is Bigger Better?
Until BMW finally started bringing us the 328i sport wagon, the X3 has always been as close as North Americans would ever get to the small, sleek haulers seen hither and yon in Europe. Yet sales figures of the current X3 have been pretty lackadaisical in North America, according to Bernd Hassenjuergen, the X3′s marketing boss. Hassenjuergen tells us that the top markets for the X3 have been (in order) Germany, the U.K. and then the United States.
“This new generation X3,” Hassenjuergen confides, “needs to flip that around a little to make the U.S. the No. 1 market.” As you might have already guessed, the strategy for the new X3 involves making it bigger as a consequence, and now this compact crossover is only a tad smaller than the original X5. But this has also been done to the X3 to help create some marketing space for the BMW X1 crossover now starting deliveries in Europe.
We have to say that the current X3 does come off a little tight in the living-space department, plus there are a few too many bits of cheap plastic and the nonadjustable suspension feels wound up a little too tightly. To make the point, BMW forced us to drive a current X3 xDrive30i from the airport to the event site southeast of Munich. Once we arrived and clambered into the new X3, we noticed the new vehicle’s clearly better ingress and egress given the broader overall dimensions and slimmer side sills. Exterior length for the new 2012 BMW X3 grows 3.2 inches, width by 1.2 inches and height by a bit more than half an inch. The wheelbase has been stretched a little more than a half inch as well.
Inside, the room for more American-size bodies has been maximized with a veritable mile of headroom in front and back, plus eight-tenths of an inch more rear knee room. All of this is appreciated and should immediately put this X3 on more shopping lists than the outgoing model managed. Basic cargo room is up to 19.4 cubic feet behind the second-row seat, an increase of almost 3 cubic feet.