Shots: 2005 BMW M5 by Brenda Priddy (6/16/2003)
Five hundred for 2005.
The X3 moves down a size from the successful X5, putting it in the same range as vehicles like the Ford Escape. Justifying the “premium” tag it has attached to the X3, BMW is using it to launch a new four-wheel-drive system patented under the name of xDrive. According to the manufacturer, xDrive sets new standards in agility for 4x4 traction systems. It works by instantly changing torque distribution from front to rear axles and is claimed to offer “substantial improvements” in stability, driving pleasure and safety.
2005 BMW X3
The xDrive system is combined with Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) to give the X3 optimum road handling characteristics using the inbuilt safety measures DSC offers in extreme situations. Off-road, the X3 uses one of the best souvenirs BMC kept as a reminder of the time it owned Land Rover, Hill Descent Control. HDC uses the brakes to control the vehicle on extreme downhill sections and was first used on Land Rover’s Freelander. When BMW sold Land Rover to Ford, it kept hold of HDC for its own 4x4s.
Styling of the vehicle is much more influenced by BMW’s cars than off-road vehicles, and the look is much more crossover than 4x4. One of the styling points BMW stresses is the kick up in the waistline at the rear side window, which makes the window almost triangular. At the rear, there is a tailgate that underlines the X3’s crossover status – it appears to be not much bigger than that of a 5-Series wagon, and is unlikely to swallow the bulky objects more traditional off-roaders accept with ease.
The first engine available in the X3 is likely to be the 230-hp 3.0-liter six, which should give a maximum speed of around 130 mph, extended to 139 in sports trim. The engines for the X3 will not be direct transplants from BMW’s road car range because in the search for a lower center of gravity, the front drive shaft passes through the engine’s oil pan.
Unlike the X5, which is built in the USA, the X3 will be built at the Steyr plant in Austria. Prices have not yet been released, but a figure of around $40,000 for the base model would not seem to be unrealistic.
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