David Motton

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Promising more space and better efficiency but lower weights, can the new BMW X3 impress as much as the current model does when towing duties call?

BMW has revealed the next-generation X3. The new SUV will be priced from £38,800 when it goes on sale in November.

The X3 will be available with a 2.0-litre petrol engine as well as the familiar 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre diesels, which are more likely to find favour with caravanners.

There will also be a range-topping, high-performance M40i with 360hp from a six-cylinder petrol engine.

Evolution rather than revolution

The outgoing model drives well, and unsurprisingly BMW says the new car will remain one of the most sporty and enjoyable SUVs from the driver's seat.

The car's overall dimensions are largely unchanged, but the wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) has increased, which should benefit stability, both in everyday driving and while towing.

BMW says the car has a 50:50 weight distribution and all models available from launch have the xDrive four-wheel-drive system, which should contribute to agile but secure handling in all weathers.

Buyers will have a choice of different suspension set ups. As well as the standard springs and dampers, buyers can opt for sports suspension (which is standard on M Sport models).

The car will also be offered with Dynamic Damper Control. This allows the driver to choose between different suspension settings to prioritise comfort or sporty handling.

With or without this option, all cars have Driving Experience Control which alters the throttle, gearbox and steering responses to suit the driver's preferences.

What does it weigh?

So far, BMW has confirmed kerbweights and legal towing limits for the two diesels, but not the new petrol models.

The new car is up to 55kg lighter than its predecessor, so matching ratios are only a little less favourable than the old car's.

The xDrive 20d has a kerbweight of 1825kg (including 75kg for the driver), giving an 85% match figure of 1551kg. The more powerful xDrive 30d has a 1895kg kerbweight, with an 85% match figure of 1611kg.

Both cars have legal towing limits of 2000kg and a maximum noseweight of 100kg.

The power to pull

Either diesel should comfortably pull a suitably matched caravan. The 20d has 295lb ft of torque and a claimed 0-62mph time of 8.0 seconds. With 457lb ft of torque, the 30d offers a significant step up in performance with a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds.

The official fuel economy figures promise a small improvement over the old car. The 20d achieves 56.5mpg on the combined cycle, 2.2mpg better than its predecessor. The 30d achieves 49.6mpg, an improvement of 1.7mpg.

You'll need deep pockets to tow with the M40i. With 360hp and 369lb ft of torque it should pull a big tourer with ease, but the thirsty 34.5mpg official combined figure suggests fuel economy while towing would be poor.

As yet there are no performance or fuel economy figures for the new 2.0-litre petrol.

More space to play with

Whichever engine is chosen, the new car promises more interior space than before. The 5cm (2") increase in wheelbase should free up more legroom inside.

Boot space remains 550 litres with the rear seats upright, and 1600 litres with them folded. That's a little less luggage room than a Jaguar F-Pace (650/1740 litres) but largely on a par with the new Audi Q5 (550/1550 litres).

The look and feel of the interior varies depending on the level of specification. Entry-level SE models have leather upholstery and high gloss interior trim with chrome highlights.

The xLine model adds sports seats, while the M Sport has a different design of leather-trimmed steering wheel, M-specific sports seats, anthracite-coloured headlining and aluminium trim.

What tow car ability will the new BMW X3 have? That remains to be seen, but we rate the current X3 very highly.

With its longer wheelbase and only a slight reduction in kerbweight there's every reason to expect the new car to be just as good to tow with – if not better. Hopefully we'll find out this winter.

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