The BMW X3 is a compact luxury crossover SUV produced by the German automaker BMW. It is based on the BMW 3-Series automobile platform. The X3 3.0i won the Canadian Car of the Year Best New Sport Utility Vehicle award for 2005.

Along the heels of a very successful and ongoing production run of the BMW X5, BMW decided in the early millennium that it wanted to compete with the likes of the Freelander, Lexus RX and other small luxury SUV's just as the X5 had previously done so well in its respective classes. Thus the X3 (internally known as E83), was born.

What thus emerged was a concept unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in 2003. Dubbed the xActivity, BMW previewed to the public for the first time what a smaller SAV based on a 3 series platform would look like. The concept had no windows, for the most part no roof, and a sleek futuristic interior. Only the basic shape of the car would emerge as the BMW X3.

Just as BMW used many parts from the E39 5 Series parts bin in the making of the X5, the same occurred in the X3's development, whereby BMW engineers reused 3 series parts. In-fact complete sets of parts came straight out of the E46 330xi, emerging unscathed in the X3 (e.g. rear suspension).

Austrian automotive contractor Magna Steyr of Graz, Austria performed additional development work and has been contracted to manufacture all first-generation X3's.

When the BMW X3 premiered in late 2003, BMW announced that it would be using a new 4 wheel drive system to power it and its bigger brother - The (refreshed) X5.

Instead of a 60-40 (rear-front) power split (which all millennium 4 wheel drive BMW's exhibit - 325xi, 330xi, early X5) with power being cut to wheels which lost traction through DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), xDrive allowed both of these vehicles to split power between the front and rear axles through use of a multiplate clutch located between the gearbox and the Cardan shaft. This setup allowed xDrive vehicles to split power in virtually any way it pleased. If the car felt like it was in a threatening situation (note not an unstable one), xDrive would react immediately, often before the driver ever knew of its intervention, to alleviate traction and control of the vehicle. xDrive is also closely knit with DSC. In the case that wheelspin stills occurs while xDrive is or has been shifting power, DSC can brake independent wheels to regain traction. xDrive also helps in cornering. When the vehicle feels it is about to understeer or oversteer, the vehicle cuts traction to either of the front wheels or rear wheels to help regain stability and keep the driver on the road.

The two key things about xDrive are, first, it being one one of the first technologies used to intervene before the driver was ever aware that the car could be unstable, and second, it being transparent (i.e. unknown) to the driver.

Right from the start, the BMW X3 had been criticized for its harsh ride and poor interior by critics. BMW rectified both in 2005, with a slightly softer ride and by matching plastics and carpeting in the 2005 X5's. It has also been criticized for not being built at a BMW factory. However, Magna Steyer, the factory in Austria has won numerous awards for quality and is the highest rated car assembly factory in Europe.

The automotive press however for the most part had mixed views of the X3 ranging all over the spectrum - unusual for BMW, but then again not so unsual for modern BMW's.

In the United Kingdom and parts of the U.S, the X3 is frowned upon by consumers because they see it as "an X5 for the poor person."

2005 model year changes:

* Bluetooth could actually be ordered straight from the factory (part of the Premium Package) and functioned without dealer intervention. (Although the BMW X3 was originally offered and promised with Bluetooth support in 2004, none of the cars that shipped from the factory actually had it installed. Few were able to get it to work with a little bit of tinkering from their dealer).

* Interior was vastly upgraded with changes to all plastics (making them match, unlike the 2004 model). Also instead of having grey carpeting which was present on all 2004 X3's, the 2005 X3 came with carpeting that matched the leather ordered (with the exception of the Terracotta interior, whose carpeting is black).

* Slightly softer suspension.

* Front wheel fenders are one piece, as opposed to the two piece found on 2004 models.

* A 2.0d engine became available in some markets - joining the 2.5i and 3.0i engines (found stateside) as well as the 3.0d engine sold elsewhere in the world.

* An 'Open-Door' indicator was added to rectify the complaint made by many on the 2004 models.

2006 model year changes:

* The new BMW R6 engines available across the rest of the BMW lineup were, as with the 2006 X5 & 2006 Z4, curiously absent from the 2006 X3. It is rumored that the X3 will not get the R6 until the all-new BMW X5 is released in 2007 which will include the R6 engine amongst other newer engines. The X3 will receive, however, redesigned monochromatic front and rear fascias to replace the flat black bumpers. Also, the 2.5i variant will no longer be sold in the U.S., as buyers tended to go more for the 3.0i model.

* U.S. bound 2006 X3's were all equipped with a special version of the 'M' technik bodykit as standard. The difference being in that the U.S. cars had unpainted door sills and wheel arches. U.S. spec Sport Package 2006 X3's got the full 'M' bodykit (with painted front, side and rear plastic) available in the rest of the world as a BMW accessory.

* 2.5i was removed for sale from the U.S. market.

2007 model year changes:

The new changes to the 2007 BMW X3 are now listed on the BMWUSA home page. The 3.0si engine will put 260 horsepower and 225 torque, at a lower (2500) RPM. The front and rear facia are changed, more resembling the X5 SUV. New LED lights and interior upgrades are also on tap. On sale in 'early fall' 2006.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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