By Aries B. Espinosa
FIFTEEN years — and 1.5 million units sold worldwide — after the introduction of the BMW X3 Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV), the third generation of this “athlete” sibling of the five X Series brands (which include the X1, X4, X5 and X6) on Feb. 9 debuted in the Philippines.
And SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp. (SMCACDC), the new importer, distributor and service provider of BMW automobiles in the country, made it clear even before the latest models rolled onto the stage that this reiteration of the X3 would be best enjoyed by owners and drivers that were like the X3 themselves: Strong-willed, dynamic individuals “on a mission.”
SMCACDC President Maricar C. Parco summed it up when she said: “We are excited to open 2018 with a positive outlook towards BMW’s growth in the country. We start that tonight with the unveiling of a BMW masterpiece that is on a mission like no other. The new X3 unifies the distinctive ‘X’ character, exceptional handling that is expected from a BMW, dynamic performance to push boundaries, and allows its driver to pursue his passions like never before.”
SMCACDC itself is on a mission to regain for BMW the top spot as the country’s bestselling European car brand, a position rival premium car maker Volkswagen has been holding since 2016. In last year’s sales figures furnished by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc., Volkswagen retained its number one spot by a mere 13 vehicles (1,363 vs. 1,350).
The unveiling of the new X3 seems to hint that this SAV would be the one to overcome that final hurdle to the top, as members of Spartan Race Philippines, the local arm of what is claimed to be the world’s largest obstacle course racing event, climbed bare-handed up 20-foot ropes to remove the curtains, signaling the rollout of the two variants of the X3, the xDrive20d xLine and the xDrive20d M Sport.
Marketing and product planning director of SMCACDC Karl B. Magsuci provided the pertinent details of the new X3.
“While this new X3 follows its predecessor’s rugged off-road looks with its sporty presence, the new generation brings this design language a step further with a more sophisticated, more muscular look,” he explained.
“The xLine trim with radiator grille and other exterior details in satin aluminum and specifically designed 19-inch light-alloy wheels emphasize the robustness of the SAV, while the xDrive20d M Sport model focuses its attention to the dynamic gifts of the all-new X3 with M aerodynamic features, a particularly dramatic design on the 19-inch light-alloy wheels, and the new exterior paint shade of Phytonic Blue.”
Mr. Magsuci also revealed that the chassis of the new X3 is lighter than the previous model by 50 kilograms, thanks to the use of aluminum material in the engine and suspension components. The 40:20:40 split folding rear seat back rest is also able to expand boot capacity from 550 liters to as much as 1,600 liters.
In addition to the latest version of the BMW iDrive system fitted as standard, the Professional navigation system opens up the touch screen and gesture control — functions which have so far been exclusive to the current BMW 7 Series and new BMW 5 Series. The 10.25-inch touch-sensitive central display provides a quick summary of important information, and offers users intuitive access to whatever they are looking for. Gesture control allows numerous infotainment system and telephone functions to be operated intuitively using finger and hand gestures.
Moreover, the Parking Assistant makes parking easier as the system measures potential spaces while driving past at a low speed and aids the driver in steering, acceleration, braking and gear selection to automatically position the car into parallel and lateral parking spaces. This function can be overridden by the driver at any time.
Mr. Magsuci also explained that the improved eight-speed Steptronic transmission and the BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system complement the powerful 2.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo diesel engine that produces 190 hp and 400 Nm of torque.
Post-TRAIN Law prices for the two X3 variants were also revealed at the launch: The xDrive20d xLine costs P4.390 million while the xDrive20d M Sport goes for P4.590 million.