Paris 2010: BMW X3 is new yet familiar

, Posted by Sports Cars Fans at 4:38 PM

2011 BMW X3

BMW has whisked the sheets off its 2011 X3, and the second-generation crossover looks suspiciously like its predecessor. Beyond a seemingly endless parade of spy shots over the last couple of years, that's predictable, as the X3 has been a considerable sales success for the German automaker.

While the sheetmetal stays largely the same, the lineup receives new engines and an eight-speed automatic gearbox that's set to spread like kudzu throughout the automaker's offerings. The X3 also becomes the first model in BMW's growing X franchise to adopt electric power steering (the automaker's controversial variable sports steering rack is optional), as well as optional Damper Control and Dynamic Drive Control (as seen on its range of sedans and sports cars).

In addition to the new sheetmetal, BMW promises added rear seat room, addressing one of the vehicle's key shortcomings for the North American market.

Power will come from BMW's Twinpower Turbo (Bimmerese for twin-scroll turbo) inline six-cylinder engine that gives the XDrive35i model 306 brake horsepower at 5,800 rpm with max torque of 295 pound-feet of torque at just 1,300 rpm. That's good enough for a 0-62 mph time of just 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 152 mph, though it's not clear if that figure will be governed when it reaches us Yanks. An entry-level xDrive28i model will also receive I-6 power, with 240 hp and 230 pound-feet of torque. Naturally, diesel mills will also be available in other areas of the globe, but as of yet, BMW officials haven't committed to bringing an oil burner to the States. The gas model, however, should be in showrooms before year's end, and for U.S. buyers, it'll have a shorter distance to travel, as it will be built in Spartanburg, South Carolina.