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BMW's all-new 2018 X3 brings more tech to the segment

by Ronan Glon

The third-gen X3 shifts to BMW\'s modular CLAR platform.

BMW has introduced the brand-new 2018 X3 at an event held in its Spartanburg, South Carolina, factory.

The third-generation model's overall silhouette has changed very little. Viewed from the side, it's immediately recognizable as an X3, though it loses the Hofmeister kink that has characterized BMWs for decades.

Look closer and you'll notice its front end is bolder and taller than before. The headlights are sharper, and they're now separated from the kidney grilles, which are markedly bigger. Out back, the L-shaped lights remain but they've become more rounded, a styling cue which gives Bimmer's Audi Q5 fighter a more modern look.

Inside, the big news is that the X3 brings more tech features to the segment. The available head-up display is 75 percent bigger than before, and the infotainment system is displayed on a 10.2-inch color screen compatible with the gesture-recognition technology that debuted on the latest 7 Series. Additionally, owners can "talk" to their X3 using a growing selection of applications for devices like smartphones and smartwatches.

At launch, the X3's base engine will be a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 248 horsepower. Next up in the hierarchy will be a 355-horsepower, 3.0-liter straight-six. All-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission come standard regardless of how many cylinders are under the hood.

In its fastest configuration, the third-gen X3 performs the benchmark zero-to-60-mph sprint in 4.6 seconds, a figure that makes it faster than the Volkswagen Golf R -- that's not bad for a big SUV. BMW promises it's more efficient than before, but fuel economy figures haven't been released yet.

Looking ahead, a full-blown M-tuned model is expected to join the lineup for the first time ever. At the other end of the spectrum, it's safe to bet a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid model will debut a few months into the production run. BMW is firmly committed to electrifying its entire lineup, and the X3 is no exception.

Built in South Carolina, the 2018 BMW X3 will make its public debut this fall at the Frankfurt Auto Show, and sales will kick in November. Look for a pricing announcement before then.

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