Dubbed as a
sports activity vehicle (SAV), the BMW X3 is one of the more unique vehicles from the German automotive giant. The term
sports activity vehicle was coined by BMW as a means to brand its crossover vehicles, which combine the qualities of SUVs and regular cars. The first SAV model line, the BMW X5, debuted in 1999. The X3 arrived four years after as BMW looked to expand its line of SAVs.
2004: A Rough Start
The world got its first glimpse of the BMW X3 at the Detroit Auto Show in 2003. The X3 was based on the brand's annual best-seller, the BMW 3 series. It utilized the said platform in order to provide passengers with the 3 Series' trademark comfort and drivability. But since the X3 is a crossover, it also had a spacious interior and the rugged features of an SUV.
Despite being only
half an SUV, the X3 was heavily marketed as an off-road vehicle. Its off-road capability was boosted by BMW's xDrive, the brand's trademark automatic four-wheel drive system. A variety of quality engines provided the X3 with an ample amount of horsepower. It was also loaded with an assortment of deluxe features. But despite those, the original X3 was panned by critics for having limited off-road usage, being too minimalist, and being composed of parts that were mostly made of plastic. The fact that it was also on the expensive side didn't help matters.
2005: The Overhaul
As a response to the rather lukewarm reception that the X3 received, BMW overhauled the SAV for the 2005 model year. The 2005 X3 got a new set of powerful engines, an improved suspension system, an upgraded stability control system, and enhanced brakes. The X3 shifted away from plastic as most of its components were now composed of better materials. Of course, there were also new luxury features such as automatic climate control and heated seats. All of these changes improved the X3's standing among automotive consumers.
2007: Significant Updates
2007 marked the final year that the BMW X3 would be significantly updated before the debut of the second generation. The 2007 X3 received a new set of engines (similar to those on the 3 Series), an improved xDrive system, and various suspension upgrades. The exterior and the interior were also restyled.
2010: The Second Generation
The second-generation BMW X3 arrived in 2010 (as a 2011 model). The latest incarnation of the X3 features major updates in both design and performance. It's now a much better off-road vehicle and looks far sleeker than it was before. The X3 has definitely gone a long way from its rather shaky start; today, it's regarded as one of the better crossovers in the market.