THE 2017 BMW X3 has been spied in all of its camouflaged glory, having a red-hot go on Germany’s famous Nurburgring.
Sprung undergoing final chassis and performance testing, the third-generation premium medium SUV from Munich (via the USA, where it will again be built) is expected to take centre stage at one of the larger motor shows coming up – be it Paris in October, Los Angeles in November, or Detroit next January.
Though the shape and size point to evolutionary changes, it is clear that the G01-series BMW X3 adopts a fresh design language to help keep it looking contemporary against the soon-to-debut all-new Audi Q5 and the hot-selling Mercedes-Benz GLC and Land Rover Discovery Sport - as well as the Lexus RX, Volvo XC60, and the eagerly awaited Alfa Romeo Stelvio.
School-run mums have never had it so glam!
A far bigger change is going on underneath, with the 2017 X3 believed to be adopting a variation of BMW’s all-new scalable, longitudinally engined, CLAR architecture, which debuted in the latest BMW 7 Series limousine last year.
This, in turn, brings a wealth of new technologies to the range, including advanced driver-assist equipment, as well as future possible electrification for partial and plug-in electric hybrid variants still in the pipeline.
Of course, the mainstream all-turbo modular powertrain choices should include the latest-generation B48 2.0-litre four-cylinder and B58 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engines, as well as their B47 and B57 diesel counterparts, mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. The Nurburgring prototype appears to be something akin to an M40i flagship.
To improve economy and performance as well as dynamics, the 2017 X3 has benefited from an efficiency-focussed diet. That CLAR platform includes carbon fibre as part of a lightening yet strengthening regime, so the net result should yield a 100kg or so drop in overall mass.
Similar underpinnings are also earmarked for the 2019 X5, as well as the all-new X7 seven-seater SUV, giving the hot-shot Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, and Mercedes-Benz GLS something to think about.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly for buyers, an all-new interior that is said to step up at last in terms of quality and craftsmanship is expected to debut in the 2017 X3, along with a significant increase in rear-passenger legroom and cargo space. The fact that the prototypes appear to be physically longer in the body supports that speculation.
When the G01 X3 does lob in Australia sometime before the end of next year, it will probably stick with the low-$60,000 to high-$80,000 asking price of the current, five-year old version.
BMW fans should also look for a next-generation X4 SUV coupe to eventually follow suit, as the German manufacturers explore and exploit every last crossover niche.