BMW's mid-size SUV, the X3, will be more affordable early next year with the arrival of the xDrive20i variant.
BMW's mid-size SUV, the X3, will be more affordable early next year with the arrival of the xDrive20i variant.

'Budget' BMWs bolster local line-up

CHEAPER X3, 5-Series and Z4 models are on the way to Australia.

BMW will bolster its local line-up with three new budget-conscious models later this year. All three cars will be powered by a new-generation twin-turbo four-cylinder petrol engine.

The most significant announcement is the arrival of a new entry-level X3 which will start at less than $60,000.

The new X3 xDrive20i is expected to be priced from around the $59,000 mark, undercutting the current price leader, the xDrive20d which starts at $62,200.

BMW Australia hasn't released full details of the new X3 but spokesman Piers Scott said it should arrive in local showrooms within the first quarter of 2012.

Specification level is likely to be similar to the 20d, but Scott couldn't confirm that.

It is expected to share the same 135kW/270Nm twin turbo four-cylinder petrol engine that will also be found under the bonnet of the new 520i.

The new 5 Series price leader will arrive down under in November alongside the new 528i which will be powered by the same engine, albeit in a more powerful state of tune. It replaces the six-cylinder engine in the current 528i.

A brief drive of the 520i in Spain last week demonstrated an impressive engine, with good response thanks to its low rev range torque (or pulling power).

Official fuel economy for the new engine is 6.4L/100km. That gets it under the luxury car tax threshold meaning a starting price of $77,900.

The 528i boasts 180kW and 350Nm and has a claimed fuel consumption figure of 6.7L/100km. It will be priced from $98,200 compared to the old model's $99,900.

All three new models will come equipped with the company's eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.

BMW Australia also announced the same engine will join the Z4 line-up later this year in a significant restructure of the range.

The sDrive20i replaces the naturally aspirated six cylinder sDrive23i and will be priced from $76,900, cutting the entry point price for the Z4 range by $9300.

The Z4 sDrive30i has also been dropped and replaced by the sDrive28i, offering more torque and lower fuel consumption. It will start at $89,400, also a $9300 price cut from the 30i.

Both models will be equipped with a six-speed manual as standard but are now available with an eight-speed automatic as an option.

The sDrive35i and sDrive35is retain the same twin turbo six-cylinder engine but have both been given $9400 price cuts.

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