Sunday, 31 October 2010


It's a little quiet just now on the new car launch front. There are a few images being bandied around, but nothing really coming on to the market just now, except perhaps the new Passat, which looks pretty indistinguishable from the old Passat and so doesn't deserve a separate post. I was expecting the BMW to be similar, but it's not.

The problem with the old BMW X3 is that it was designed to be not as good as the X5, which was designed to be not as good as the Range Rover. Then BMW sold Land Rover, and with it went the accidental star of their SUV line-up. The X5 was, by all accounts, a fantastic car to drive, and reasonably desirable. But not as good as the Range Rover.

But the Range Rover was £70,000. The X5 started at about £35,000. There was a huge gulf of a price differential. Then the X3 was introduced, but with nowhere to fit. The problem was, if it was good, it would take sales from the X5. If it was cheap it would take sales from the 3 series. So it had to be more expensive than the 3 series. Which pushed it nicely into roughly the same price range as the X5, thus rendering it entirely pointless.

Now, though, BMW launched a new X5 a few years ago, and a recent mid model update. The prices went up as well, so that it nicely slotted between the X3 and the Range Rover.

And the X1 came along to soak up all those who wanted an SUV for 3 series prices - and I was totally wrong about the X1. I see loads of them around, so BMW know a few things that I don't.

So now the X3 has a proper target market - somewhere between X1 and X5, and it also has competitors in the form of the VW Tiguan, Audi A5, Ford Kuga, Hyundai ix35, Mazda CX-7. Need I go on?

BMW did a half arsed job of the BMW X3 before knowing that there wasn't really a market for it. But now they've done a proper job, and come up with something decent. Now they're playing catch up. I'm afraid it's going to take a few years before anyone will be able to admit to owning an X3 without their friends thinking about cheap plastic on an overpriced car.

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