BMW’s X3 Goes Diesel, Warming Luxury CUV Segment

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Audi has the Q5 TDI, Mercedes-Benz has the M Class BlueTec, and now BMW is bringing its X3 to the United States with a diesel engine variant, which it announced at the just-commenced Chicago Motor Show. BMW’s smaller crossover SUV has been a huge seller for the brand, and the more efficient diesel version should help it carry on with that momentum.

The X3 has sold over 1 million units since its debut in 2003, and with the addition of the diesel — the X3 xDrive28d, and a new rear-wheel drive version, the sDrive28i — BMW is hoping to build on that number moving forward. The X3 family — to which each member has also been endowed with some exterior changes — will go on sale this year, as the 2015 model year.

The rear-wheel drive X3 sDrive28i will start at $39,325, with the xDrive28i — with all-wheel drive — weighing in at $40,725. Upgrading to the xDrive35i with a more potent engine will see the base price increase to $45,825.

The diesel, meanwhile, will come in at $42,825 (all prices are inclusive of the $925 delivery fee). That stacks up against $46,500 for a comparable Audi Q5, and $51,790 for the most affordable Mercedes M Class. This means that the BMW xDrive28d is incredibly competitive from a pricing perspective, but remember this is prior to wading through BMW’s extensive though pricey options list.

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The xDrive28d is powered by BMW’s 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo diesel four-cylinder engine, and is good for 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque — starting from a lowly 1,750 rpm, as diesels are known for. It will be hooked to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and BMW promises 0-60 will be dealt with in under eight seconds.

Official mileage figures are not yet available for the diesel X3, but using the BMW 3 Series as a yardstick — the 328d with xDrive offers up 43 miles per gallon on the highway using the same engine, so we’d expect the X3 to fall in the 35-40 mile per gallon mark for open road driving. Mid- to high-20s is probably a safe bet for city estimates.

With the new diesel unit finding a new home in BMW’s lineup (the X5 has had the option for some time), it may only be a matter of time before it’s shoe-horned into the X1, BMW’s entry-level CUV, to more effectively take on the Mercedes GLK BlueTec and Audi’s impending Q3 compact crossover.

Exterior-wise, the front has been sharpened up a bit, and now looks a little more brawny than the outgoing model. The front bumper has received some adjusted brake cooling ducts, while the rear bumper gets the addition of some metal trim at the bottom, and standard LED turn signals have been added to the side mirrors. The headlights now kiss BMW’s chrome-surrounded kidney grille, mimicking the design language of the 3 and 4 Series.

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