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New BMW X3 unveiled

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BMW's newest SAV has gone bigger. The second generation X3 has grown in all directions and even though the looks are evolutionary, it is an all-new car.

The X3 uses the same design language as its sedan brethren, the 5 and 7 Series while keeping the design ethos of the original X3 in place. Functionality has taken precedence here and the X3 has now become taller, longer and wider than before. It has become 13 mm taller, 84 mm longer and 11 mm wider. The ground clearance too has improved by about 12 mm, but BMW makes no bones about the fact that it continues to remain a softroader. The wheelbase too has increased by 15 mm, which has also resulted in luggage space improving by 70 litres to 550 litres.

On the inside, the X3 has more space and more creature comforts than before. Gone is the E46 3 Series borrowed dash for a new generation one that also incorporates an 8.8-inch screen linked to i-Drive. The interiors have become more plush and there is more use of fine grain leather and wood that uplifts the interiors unlike the previous one's dowdy and dull innards.

Power to the X3 comes via a pair of engines.  A 2.0-litre common rail diesel engine with 181 bhp on tap will be the basis of the entry level X3. A 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six petrol with 302 bhp is the petrol option that will be currently available in Europe, but more engines will also be offered next year. These include the xDrive28i which has a 3.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol inline six with 240 bhp and the xDrive23i with 202 bhp available from its twin turbo longitudinal-four diesel.

Expect the car to come to India in early 2011 with a 5-10 per cent price increase. Expect the 3.0-litre NA petrol and 2.0-litre diesel to be offered at first. The BMW X3 is built in Spartanburg, USA along with the X5 and X6 SAV models.