Update BMW i3 launched

Improvements to the electrically driven BMW i3 include a mix of aesthetics, features and new digital services along with an additional model variant.

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The BMW i3 has been the top-selling premium electric car in its class since 2014, although with just two units sold in South Africa in May and three in April, it has not yet established a foothold – so much so, the new model was launched in Johannesburg and Cape Town and not Durban because of the extremely low volume of sales in that city.

The new BMW i3 has a number of design tweaks and the trademark BMW i Black Belt running from the bonnet over the roof to the car’s rear end is now complemented by A-pillars and roof lines that also sport a black finish.

The front and rear aprons are restyled and there is a chrome-design trim strip running across the full width of the rear.

The new BMW i3 comes equipped with all-LED headlights as standard, which employ LED bulb units for dipped beam and high beam as well as the daytime running lights. The new turn signal indicators also feature LED technology and are integrated into the front apron in the form of horizontal strips.

The design principle of the four-seater model means there is no need for either fixed B-pillars or a transmission tunnel. Doors that open in opposite directions allow the occupants to get in and out with the greatest of ease.

The Loft, Lodge and Suite equipment lines are available for the new BMW i3 as alternatives to the standard Atelier version.

The Lodge interior design option includes a new covering for the seat surfaces in Solaric Brown that combines natural leather tanned using an olive leaf extract with a wool-based textile material. In fact, more than 80% of the surfaces visible to the passengers are made from recycled materials or renewable resources.

The synchronous electric motor powering the new BMW i3 generates a maximum output of 125 kW. Its peak torque is 250 Nm, all of which is available instantly from a standstill, as is usual with electric motors.

This means 0-100 km/h is achieved in 7.3 seconds. Its top speed is limited to 150 km/h.

Located low in the vehicle floor, the lithium-ion high-voltage battery provides a range of 290 km to 300 km based on the NEDC cycle, 235 km to 255 km as per WLTP and up to 200 km in everyday use. The combined electric power consumption of the new BMW i3 on the NEDC cycle varies between 13,6 and 13,1 kWh for every 100 kilometres.

The handling characteristics of the BMW i3 are improved by the optimised Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system. This comprehensively revised, faster responding traction control system guarantees confident handling under all driving conditions.

The BMW i3 now features a globally unique form of wheel speed limiting that ensures increased directional stability, both under dynamic acceleration and on the overrun with strong regenerative braking.

A 28 kW two-cylinder range extender petrol engine is available as an option. The engine drives a generator that produces power as required while driving to maintain a constant level of charge in the high-voltage battery. This extends the car’s overall range in everyday use by 150 kilometres, increasing it from around 180 kilometres to a maximum of 330 kilometres. The all-electric range of the new BMW i3 with range extender is 225 to 235 kilometres as per NEDC and 190 to 200 kilometres as per WLTP.

On the NEDC cycle, the new BMW i3 with range extender returns combined consumption figures of 0,6 l/100 km.

The optional Parking Assistance package includes Park Distance Control, a reversing camera and the Parking Assistant. Once a suitable parking space parallel to the road has been selected, the Parking Assistant takes control of acceleration, braking, gear selection and steering.

The new BMW i3 comes with an updated version of the iDrive operating system, which provides an intuitive interface for controlling numerous vehicle, infotainment, communications and navigation functions. In vehicles equipped with the Navigation system Professional, the Control Display has a diagonal of 10,25 inches and an increased resolution of 1 440 × 540 pixels. The main menu is also presented in the form of horizontally arranged tiles with a live mode.

The voice recognition system has also been further optimised. With the aid of Natural Language Understanding, spoken instructions can now be executed more quickly and precisely.

Charging at home is extremely user-friendly thanks to the BMW i Wallbox which, in its most recent incarnation, can supply 11 kW of power to charge the high-voltage battery. This allows enough energy for an electric range of around 180 kilometres to be transferred in under three hours – five times quicker than with the standard charging cable.

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Off to battle

The Young Guns – Richard Leeke and Henry Köhne – in their Speedglas Welding Helmets BMW X3 are feeling bullish ahead of the second round of the South African Cross Country Series, which takes place in KZN on May 4 and 5.

The Battlefields 400, appropriately enough, is based around the province’s historical war zone; where Brits, Boers and Zulus fought more than one hundred years ago. On the first weekend of May, it will not be nations battling it out, but rather well-known vehicle brands, such as Ford, Toyota and the lone Beemer.

They debuted the V8-engined SUV on the Mpumalanga 400 in March, storming to class T podium (a foreign competitor ahead of them doesn’t score points in a South African championship which moved them from fourth on the road to third in the results) in a class usually dominated by double cabs.

“The Mpumalanga result was encouraging and the X3 was impressive, to say the least,” commented Leeke, a recent nominee in the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists’ Motor Sportsman of The Year awards.

“Conditions were extremely tricky and we were also feeling our way after minimal pre-event testing but it is obvious the BMW is very fast and would’ve been faster still if it wasn’t for an electrical issue which affected engine cooling.”

Business commitments and a National Championship rally have kept the duo busy since their last outing but a recent shakedown test suggests the changes made to the BMW have already borne fruit.

“It really has been about customising the feel of the vehicle to our needs and Richard likes a car to handle in a particular way, while I have my own peculiar needs inside my office,” explains Henry, who co-drives for Richard in their Fiesta rally car too.

As before, the event HQ and the service point are just outside Dundee at the Battlefield Lodge, but the racing will have a different feel thanks to a route which is more than 50 percent new.

Organisers say the terrain is lush and green and possibly soft underfoot, which will bring driving and navigation challenges with it. Competitors complete a 45-kilometre qualifying race on Friday as a curtain-raiser to Saturday, which comprises a pair of 170-kilometre loops, getting underway at 8 am.

The event can be enjoyed at a distance thanks to the free RallySafe App or by signing up to the SACCS Auto service on Telegram.

“Once again it will be an event where we work our way up to speed and our goal is to get race distance under our belt and hopefully it’ll be good for us again – we took a class S victory in last year’s Battlefield 400. But the class is full of talented drivers in well-tested machines so we know getting on the podium again will be a tall order – but we’re keen to give it a go,” grinned 22-year-old Leeke.

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All eyes on Killarney

Following a very dramatic opening round at Kyalami, the Sasol GTC circus heads to Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town this weekend for round two – hoping it will be a less bruising encounter.

The Sasol GTC Racing Team workshop has been a hive of activity as the team prepares to defend and grow championship leader, Gennaro Bonafede’s points gap.

Bonafede, behind the wheel of his BMW GTC racing car has a five point lead over Simon Moss (Audi) after the opening race where he claimed one victory and a second place finish.

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“I expect the other guys, especially Michael Stephen, to come back strongly,” Bonafede predicts. “I had tremendous pace at Kyalami, so I am confident of a good performance as I have traditionally done well at Killarney.

“I claimed my first GTC victory and started last season with a double win, which makes Killarney a special race track for me.  Given the new power we have, it will be like driving on a new track.  The fast back straight will be ‘hair raising moment’ as we are likely to top 250 km/h before hitting the bumpy braking zone into Cape Town Corner.

“Cape Town race fans can look forward to some great racing and I hope to be right at the front of it. I doubt it will be a two-horse race as the Volkswagen team has benefitted from significant improvements and will be fielding two highly competitive race cars. Johan Fourie is always a threat at his home track, so I expect any us to be racing for podium honours. The front of the grid is going to be a very busy place!”

Robert Wolk will have his work cut out for him after his Sasol GTC racing car required a complete rebuild after Kyalami, following a massive accident that saw the driver experience in excess of 4G.

“It was a big one,” admitted Wolk, who walked away unharmed. “The team has worked day and night to rebuild my car. I am really looking forward to a competitive car which will give me the edge to challenge for the lead as I did at round one. I enjoy racing at Killarney in front of a large crowd of enthusiastic motorsport fans and hope to put on a good show for them.”

Volkswagen Motorsport heads to Killarney confident the learnings from Kyalami and the hours of subsequent preparation will ensure that both the Jetta GTC’s and the Golf GTI GTC2’s are race ready for a competitive outing at  the famous Western Cape track.

The opening round of the series at Kyalami last month demonstrated the raw speed inherent in Mathew Hodges and Daniel Rowe’s Jettas as Hodges raced to a superb second place in the first race while Rowe clawed his way back from the tail of the field after being knocked into a spin by a rival.

The Volkswagen Golf GTi duo also set the timesheets alight when the current GTC2 champion Keagan Masters drove into the distance while newcomer Adrian Wood showed strong race performance.

Hodges feels he has one of the best cars in the field and is excited to be challenging for wins at the front of the field.

“I think we opened quite a few people’s eyes at Kyalami with our pace. I expect to be as fast  in Cape Town as I was at Kyalami although Killarney poses its own challenges with several fast sweeps and big braking zones. The track is quite bumpy so the team and I will work on our set-up to suit the circuit’s unique characteristics.  Qualifying is a game-changer in terms of how your day progresses so that’s another key area we will be focusing  on”.

Rowe is really excited to race the new specification Jetta GTC at one of his favourite tracks: “I reckon we could nudge the 250 km/h mark down the back straight which will be quite interesting.  Over the years I have learned how to avoid the worst of the bumps, especially under braking for Cape Town corner. My confidence is high after experiencing how competitive our car  is and while everyone is out to win –  myself included –  I am hoping for a weekend where we are racing at the front and a pair of podium finishes would be the cherry on top”.

Keagan Masters ably demonstrated why he is the GTC2 champion after a polished drive at Kyalami and relishes the prospect of continuing his form at the tricky Cape Town track where he estimates the new slick tyres will shave around 1,5 seconds off his lap times.

“It will be like going to a new track”, Masters says. “The extreme grip from the tyres means I can carry more speed into the corners and get on the power earlier. The key will be finding a comfortable set-up during free practice and then maximising my car’s performance. Although Killarney is not my favourite  track, I am excited to be racing there with a clear goal of taking at least one win to get back to the top of the leader board.”

Signature Motorsport is brimful of confidence and the season got off to a great start for the Ferodo-backed MINI John Cooper Works after Brad Liebenberg took a win and second place at Kyalami last month.

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Although not blessed with the best of luck at Killarney, Brad rates the circuit as his favourite in the country.

“Killarney has a great mix of very fast and technical sections which really brings out a driver’s skill,” says Brad. “The Cape Town crowd is usually the biggest we have anywhere in the country and the MINI team resonates with them; we enjoy great fan support.”

Devin Robertson’s debut in the Champion MINI John Cooper Works did not go quite as planned at Kyalami after technical difficulties but he says: “Killarney has been good to me in the past and I have many fond memories of racing there. The circuit demands a high level of commitment and I know winning won’t be easy but I will give my best as ever and hope the fans enjoy the racing.”

 

 

BMW expands parts operation

BMW South Africa has upped its game in terms of parts distribution with the opening of a new regional centre (RDC) following a R260-million investment together with project partner Attacq.

The 32 000 square metre facility at Waterfall, Gauteng has the capacity for 600 000 parts and this investment is in addition to the R6,1-billion injection that has been pivotal in upgrading the company’s Rosslyn manufacturing plant for production of the new BMW X3.

“The business of mobility is increasingly complex and intricate. More than ever, it is critical we are able to be flexible in our approach,” says CEO BMW Group South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, Tim Abbott. “The new Regional Distribution Centre will allow us to react timeously and seamlessly to changing customer needs because it is a state-of-the-art, highly technical facility.”

The bespoke warehouse has doubled in size and has capacity for further expansion in the medium term.

There are approximately 100 000 bin locations in the RDC containing 30 000 different kinds of parts. It will store some 600 000 parts, handle thousands of dealer orders every day and service 56 dealers across Southern Africa. It will refine yet further the service customers of the BMW Group brands, with service delivery of up to three times per day to dealers in Gauteng.

The relocation of parts warehousing has created space at BMW Group South Africa’s Midrand head office. A further R260-million investment is being made for the upgrade of all of the Group’s Midrand facilities, including the development of the Midrand Campus.

“This expansion will include office space to house some 500 associates from our SAP Shared Services Centre, currently based in Menlyn, Pretoria. The BMW Group South Africa SAP Shared Services Centre has grown at a phenomenal rate recently, doubling its headcount as it takes on more global contracts. Such is the space available at Midrand, there is capacity for further large-scale expansion if required.

“As a leader in the future of mobility we are a company focussed on learning, innovating, and inspiring. Our employees are at the centre of this philosophy. By moving our associates from the SAP Shared Services Centre, as well as incorporating our colleagues from BMW Financial Services, we’re in a better positon than ever to collaborate and learn from each other,” says Abbott.

“Taking care of our customers is a vital part of our business. This RDC will guarantee we are there for our customers when they need us most and that faster than ever, we can get them back to where they want to be – at the wheel of their BMW or MINI,”

X3 production ramps up

It is all change at the BMW manufacturing facility in Rosslyn, Pretoria with the first customer X3 models rolling off the production, replacing the 3 Series previously built there.

In 2015, BMW Group announced a R6-billion investment into South Africa in order to prepare BMW Group Plant Rosslyn for the BMW X3 production.

The BMW Group assigns production to its facilities around the world on the basis of various factors. Demand for BMW’s X-derivative models has grown to more than 30% of worldwide sales since the launch of the first BMW X5 in 1999.

BMW Group Plant Rosslyn was assigned production of the new BMW X3 on the basis that demand exceeds the capacity of the Group’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. This change has secured the future of Plant Rosslyn as well as the livelihoods of thousands of people at facilities and in the supply chain.

BWM Group Plant Rosslyn was the first plant built by the BMW Group outside of Germany. The plant built the BMW 3 Series for 35 years, manufacturing a total of 1 191 604 units during the period, and increasing production with every model.

With a planned maximum capacity of 71 000 units of the BMW X3, which was later increased (with an additional R160-million investment) to 76 000, BMW Group Plant Rosslyn has the opportunity to flexibly match volumes to demand, and to build more cars than ever before.

Tim Abbott, CEO of BMW Group South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, says the successful ramp-up of production of the BMW X3 at Rosslyn is a vote of confidence in the country and in BMW Group South Africa’s associates.

“The allocation of production of such a crucial model to our plant is about as big a vote of confidence as it gets,” Abbott says. “The demand for the BMW X3 globally is powerful, and ramping up on time and to the right standards is vital to the model’s success.”

“I have full confidence in our associates and plant management at Rosslyn. This is the team that won the coveted JD Power Platinum award in 2015, showing that a South African plant can lead the world in terms of quality.”

 BMW Group’s investments in South Africa are made in terms of the Automotive Production and Development Plan (APDP), which expires in 2020. Discussions about a replacement plan have been fruitful and are ongoing, and are crucial for the long term outlook as well as the stability of the automotive sector and BMW Group South Africa’s commitment to the country.

BMW Group South Africa is proud of its progress in terms of localising production of as many components as possible for the BMW X3, which makes this model the most ‘local’ vehicle it has ever built. Equally, BMW Group is a leading participant in a proposed venture fund to develop more black-owned suppliers in the South African automotive supply chain.

BMW’s contribution to ramping up automotive exports, large-scale employment in dignified and safe jobs as well as other factors make up the content of discussions with the government, labour partners and component suppliers.

Road Impressions – BMW M240i Convertible

Arguably, the most famous multiple personality combination – real or imagined – is the Jekyll and Hyde tale by Robert Louis Stevenson and it is this ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ combination that best suits the character of the BMW M240i.

From being an ideal top-down docile beachfront cruiser, it can transform, instantly, into a ferocious, snarling beast.

In Eco mode, the car returns excellent fuel consumption for a straight six, the suspension copes so much better with rippled and potholed roads and the rate of progress is kept to genteel increments.

In Sport Plus mode there is sense the whole car is doing an Optimus Prime thing and all of it is transforming by growing tighter around the driver as well as tweaking suspension and gearbox settings.

It is then the beast will play.

The 240i is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the fastest accelerating or most rapid car on the road but what it is capable of, is made to feel more impressive because of the contrast in characters.

The new model features sharper front-end styling, LED headlights fitted as standard, interior upgrades and new connectivity services.

Both coupé and convertible models are now fitted as standard with bi-LED headlights and the main headlights can be specified in adaptive full-LED form as an option. The familiar twin-circular-headlight look has a hexagonal interpretation, while a larger kidney grille gives the front end of the new models a wider look and allows it to project a sportier impression.

The outer air intakes in the three-section front end are now larger and the rear end features single-piece rear lights (LEDs as standard) with hallmark BMW L-shape extending well into the flanks.

The interior of the new BMW 2 Series models features an all-new design for the instrument panel, which gives it a more spacious and clearer feel. New cloth or leather seat upholstery variants, interior trim strips in aluminium or fine wood and high-gloss black panels with chrome accents provide even greater scope for individualisation.

At 4 432 millimetres in length, the Convertible condenses its sporting prowess into a compact package offering 335 litres of boot space and 280 litres with the top down – enough for a quick weekend getaway or grocery run. The boot is relatively deep but its narrow opening means getting particularly wide bits of luggage inside could be a struggle.

Up front, space is generous for both driver and passenger with good headroom (with the top up) and legroom, a decent glovebox, deep door pockets and a central cubby.

Nominally, a 2+2, the 240i rear seats are quite difficult to access, especially with the top up, and the space is really cramped and uncomfortable over anything more than brief squirt down to the coffee shop.

Still, the four seats do offer a plus compared to its main rival in class, the Porsche Cayman.

The M240i – weirdly – still offers only manual seat adjustment as standard fare and this is a hassle to get the absolute perfect positioning so it worth spending the extra to have the electronic adjustment fitted. The sports seats are comfortable and supportive though, both absolute necessities when it comes time to unleash the fun.

Standard items on our test car included multifunction steering wheel, M Sport brakes, locking wheel bolts, sport automatic transmission, variable sport steering, alarm system with radio remote control, wind deflector, rain sensor and automatic headlight control, cruise control with brake function, M Sports Suspension and M aerodynamic kit.

Options fitted to the test car included 18-inch double-spoke wheels shod with run flat tyres, Chrome-line exterior, rear view camera, interior and exterior mirror with automatic anti-dazzle function, seat heating for driver and front passenger, headlamp washer system, Park Distance Control (PDC), front and rear, automatic air-conditioning with micro filter, adaptive LED headlights, navigation system and a Harman Kardon sound system.

This made the on-road price R896 235,99

The options are mentioned simply because, like any BMW, these come as listing nearly as long as ‘War and Peace‘.

The high-resolution 8,8-inch central display now comes in touchscreen form if the optional Navigation system Professional is specified. This provides the driver with another way of operating various functions, in addition to the latest generation of the iDrive operating system (standard), the Touch Controller and the intelligent voice control system.

The standard SIM card integrated into the car enables connectivity and access to BMW services via BMW ConnectedDrive, without the need for a linked smartphone. These include Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI) with hazard preview and access to the vehicle via Remote Services.

However, it is what lies under the bonnet that truly counts. The 3,0-litre straight-six engine with direct injection and M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology develops 250 kW, propelling the BMW M240i from 0 to 100 km/h in 4,7 seconds with fuel consumption combined 7,4 l/100 km. CO2 emissions combined are 169 g/km.

The M240i’s six-cylinder engine is superbly strong from low revs and it has absolutely no issue being at the other end of its rev band where it triumphantly roars out its challenge to all and sundry.

In fact the M240i could be accused of having a bit too much to offer – in Sport Plus mode the rear tyres struggle to put the power down on damp or uneven roads, making it quite lively, albeit not for the faint of heart or untrained in the art of rear wheel driving.

Sport Plus does not completely disengage the ‘nanny’ systems – just tempers their reaction time to allow for much more pro-active driving. The throttle, steering and optional adaptive dampers are primed for action and all feel their best in this mode, ensuring the M240i is poised, agile and communicative.

Our car came fitted with the 8-speed auto gearbox and this responds instantly to driver input from the wheel-mounted paddle shifts.

Keep the M240i in its Comfort or Sport driving modes and the traction control is quick to step in and save the day.

Because it has this Jekyll and Hyde personality, its ultimate performance handling is not quite as good as the Cayman, for example, whereas its soft ride status does iron out more of the ripples than the Porsche. We were also impressed with the overall body stiffness of the convertible and the fact scuttle shake has been almost completely eliminated.

I remain, personally, not a great fan of convertibles – except for boulevard cruising – and prefer solid metal around me when pushing things to the limit, but the 240i would be on the list if I changed my mind.

Road Impressions BMW X3 xDrive 2.0d

The boys were shooting the breeze, comfortably ensconced in Orca’s Pub & Grill, rehashing the good and bad of the week gone by and celebrating the fact it was Friday, when one mentioned he had heard the fishing was pretty darn good at Port St Johns.

We all nodded as was expected on hearing such news and he went on to say he had a friend who had a friend who owned a cottage and maybe he could call and see if we could use it and it was only 240 km away so we could leave early the next morning and be there in time for some good fishing in the afternoon and maybe even a bit of fishing on Sunday morning before we left to come back home.

The nodding accelerated like an M3 on launch control and then they looked at me. Me, because I was the one with a BMW X3 and that, everyone knew was a whole bunch more comfortable than a clapped out double cab.

Now, when it comes to fishing, I don’t. My wife lets me drink at home.

However, not being one to shy away from a road trip, I nodded like a Toyota ad and early the following morning, loaded with cooler boxes, enough beer to float the Nimitz, the requisite boerewors and chops and a whole bunch of fishing gear, we switched into Steppenwolf mode, got our motor running and headed off down the highway.

My friends are not small but the four-cylinder 1 995 cc diesel engine with eight-speed Steptronic transmission fitted to the X3 just did not even notice the weight. With 140 kW on tap at 4 000 r/min and maximum torque of 400 Nm available from 1 750 r/min, it simply gurgled along quite unphased.

The test unit came with adaptive cruise control fitted, making the more boring sections of the trip heading towards Kokstad a lot less stressful and a whole lot safer considering the notorious N2 in that area is often referred to as ‘Death Alley’.

While the lads waffled on about ‘spoons’ and ‘ties’ and sinker weights, I paid attention to the fuel consumption – in normal mode averaging 5,6 l/100 km and in Sport mode 5,7 l/100 km, both cruising at the requisite 120 km/h and including stop/start traffic or town driving, well village really.

This is now the third generation of the BMW X3 and, while exterior dimensions may be largely unchanged, it has a five-centimetre longer wheelbase, long bonnet and extremely short front overhang so the proportions emphasise the 50:50 distribution of weight between the front and rear axle.

At the front end, the kidney grille treatment and fog lamps feature a hexagonal design for the first time on a BMW X model.

There are three trim variants available and we had the xLine model that has radiator grille and other exterior details in Aluminium satin finish and specifically designed light-alloy wheels

The interior of the new BMW X3 follows BMW tradition and the xLine model features standard-fitted sports seats with cloth/leather upholstery.

The all-wheel drive system at the heart of the X3 is interlinked with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) meaning the power split between all four wheels can be constantly varied to produce the best possible handling characteristics.

There is a reasonable road to Port St Johns but no, fishing is not a simply a matter of driving to a venue and offloading the gear – it involves driving past the venue to locate an obscure trail through the bush that (hopefully) will end up at a pristine part of the beach where nobody has ever been before.

Fortunately, the dune bush is soft and gentle and leaves the paintwork intact – for the rest, the X3 chugged through the soft sand with nary a misstep or signs of running of breath.

As far as the chassis technology is concerned, the third generation of the BMW X3 continues to rely on a double-joint spring strut axle at the front and a five-link rear axle.

BMW engineers succeeded in bringing about a considerable reduction in unsprung mass by fitting aluminium swivel bearings and lighter tubular anti-roll bars as well as optimising wheel location at the front.

Handling dynamics, straight-line stability and steering feel have all benefited from the uprated axle kinematics and the electric power steering system with Servotronic function.

Roll moment has been redistributed a long way to the rear and the rear bias of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system further increased. Intelligent AWD management allows adjustments to be made as the driving situation demands while still maintaining maximum traction.

To maximise safety, meanwhile, Driving Stability Control (DSC) including anti-lock braking, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Automatic Differential Brake (ADB-X), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and Hill Descent Control (HDC) are all standard kit.

The high ground clearance of 204 millimetres helps to ensure unhindered progress through the sand to the declared ‘ideal’ fishing spot. Why, I have no idea since nobody caught a thing and the only danger came from a rapidly depleting cooler box – including the water for the designated driver.

The approach angle (25,7°) and departure angle (22,6°) of the new BMW X3 together with its breakover angle of 19,4° create plenty of margin for negotiating steep sections or crests. Moreover, with a fording depth of 500 millimetres, the BMW X3 can tackle water crossings with ease as well – something suggested by one of the lads and quickly turned down, since the tide was coming in rapidly.

In addition to the iDrive Controller fitted as standard, specifying the Navigation system Professional opens up the possibility of touchscreen and gesture control – functions that have so far been exclusive to the current BMW 7 Series and new BMW 5 Series.

In addition to the adaptive cruise control the test unit was fitted with steering and lane control assistant, and Lane Keep Assist with side collision protection – all part of the optional Driving Assistant Plus safety package.

I am not a huge fan of either, considering the state of some of our roads and the appalling driving of many of their occupants, meaning the systems are hectically active and become rather intrusive.

So, lack of fish notwithstanding, the fishing trip provided good grounds (pardon the pun) to enjoy the new X3 but I cannot wait to get home….because then I can have a beer.