By Nelson Ireson - Motor Authority
This is it: the next generation of the BMW X3. Due to arrive in 2016 as a 2017 model in the U.S., the new X3 will add technology, grow lighter, and, if the images are any indication, may also do a very un-BMW thing: get smaller.
The current X3 is one of the strongest in the segment, offering snappy performance, a nice interior, good features, and reasonable value for money, as well as an attractive—if somewhat dated—exterior.
Looking to the future, the next X3 is likely to hold or lose weight—we’d put our dollars on the latter—despite growing slightly in interior size. That increase in space is likely to come from more efficient engineering and lighter-weight materials, as the images show the new X3 beside the current X3, and the 2017 model appears to be lower and leaner.
Under the hood, the engines in the current X3 (shared with the 3-Series, and other BMW models) are likely to continue forward, especially the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in the X3 28i. Rumors have indicated BMW may also be considering a hotter version of the turbo 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder found in the current X3 35i, perhaps badged as an M Performance model, with up to 360 hp.
Talk of an M Division special—a true X3 M—has also persisted over the past several years. Whether BMW can justify the cost and likely cannibalization such a model would offer to the X5 M and X6 M is unclear. If it did happen, however, expect to see a wider, more aggressive body treatment and many of the parts from the current 425-hp M3/M4 line stuffed under the skin—in other words, one very fun crossover.
A plug-in hybrid variant of the X3 is also a possibility, though what that might look like isn’t yet clear, beyond potentially pairing the 2.0-liter turbo four from the 28i with an electric dive unit for limited all-electric range and increased efficiency or performance.
Look for more information in this space as development of the 2017 BMW X3 continues.