What better way to find out more about the next generation BMW X3 than an interview with BMW X3 Product Manager Joe Weirda. The pricing has not been announced yet, but both the X3 xDrive28i and xDrive35i will be launched in January 2011.In this interview by BMW Blog, Weirda shares the innovations and philiosphy behind the car. Here are some excerpts of the interview:
BMWBLOG: What level of off-road competence has been designed into the new X3?
Joe Wierda: Obviously, when you look at an SUV, and youíre looking at the segment in the US, those are not the primary features that customers are really demanding. Sure, they need a basic level of off-road capabilities, and itís definitely built into the car Ė I drove the car at our off-road center in the Performance Center, and it went trough the course that was designed for the X5 actually perfectly Ė it actually got a higher ground clearance than the first generation X3 so itís improved, but definitely the focus is more on-road. Customers in the segment are looking for a car that sits a little bit higher, has a little bit more presence, with which they might go off-road occasionally, but thatís not their focus.
BMWBLOG: Describe the ideal X3 driver.
Joe Wierda: Itís hard to say whether thereís just one ideal X3 buyer, because we learned a lot from the first generation X5 as far as who is really looking at this vehicle. If I had to really describe an ideal driver, it would be sort of in two spectrum, actually, maybe a more youthful or younger family-oriented buyer, whoís really looking for a sporty handling SUV, but needs to have some cargo hauling capabilities, and there are also the ďdownsizersĒ Ė people who are a little bit older, coming out of larger SUVs, they donít have the needs for their family to throw all their stuff in it and pile seven people in the car, so theyíre downsizing, looking for a more nimble vehicle, that you know, they can use now because they donít have to fill so many people in the car.
BMWBLOG: What homage does the new X3 pay to the original one, in design features?
Joe Wierda: The proportions have remained relatively the same, just grown in general, so it still has the unique look, not just the beltline that raises up into the Hofmeister kink. Carry-over features in design elements are really just the philosophy of the car, where it sits within the segment. Itís not quite the size of an X5 and itís not nearly as small as the X1, but itís bigger than the first generation, so itís more of having its own unique identity with some of these character lines, and still maintaining its position within the BMW lineup. The designers may tell you more about the exact proportions of the wheel, and the front to the rear. If you look at the hood impressions from the front, and you look at todayís car Ė thatís also very similar. But for me the most obvious is the beltline, because we donít have any other car that looks like that.
BMWBLOG: The original X3 was designed with the active young professionals in mind, who like hiking, etc. What sort of package does the X3 bring to this type of consumers, who potentially demand more from their SUVs?
Joe Wierda: When we launched the first car, it was definitely targeted towards that audience Ė originally that segment didnít really exist. So who knew exactly those buyers demands Ė we had an idea and I think we met the needs of these buyers, but pushed it perhaps a little bit too extreme, and for some people thatís not the direction they were looking for.
So we realized that there was a bit more of a mainstream customer, like I said a lot of empty nesters and young families, and a lot of youthful people, but not quite as extreme and off-road as weíve envisioned. So this car goes perhaps a little more mature and that where we see the segment going.
BMWBLOG: X1 and X5 Ė where does the X3 fit in?
Joe Wierda: Pretty much like the 3 series fills the need between the 1-series and the 5-series.
Source: BMW Blog