Next BMW X3 could get plug-in hybrid drivetrain, 425-horsepower M variant

BMW is in the early stages of developing an all-new X3, and a report coming out of Germany sheds light on what to expect from the Munich-based automaker’s next compact crossover.

The third-generation X3 will ride on a new modular platform designed to underpin the bulk of BMW’s upcoming crossovers. The switch to the new platform will make the next X3 considerably lighter than the current model (pictured) while allowing it to offer more space inside.

Staying true to tradition, the third-generation X3 is expected to feature mostly evolutionary design changes such as sharper lights on both ends and a revised rendition of BMW’s trademarked kidney grilles. The current model’s overall silhouette and dimensions are expected to carry over with only minor changes.

Reflecting BMW’s hybrid push, the next X3 will be offered with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain consisting of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline-burning engine and a small electric motor. The two power sources will send approximately 300 horsepower and up to 516 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels via an automatic transmission.

The plug-in hybrid X3 will return nearly 62 mpg in a mixed European cycle with both power sources running. Alternatively, the motor will be able to propel the X3 on electricity alone for up to 31 miles using energy stored in a high-capacity lithium-ion battery pack.

On the other end of the spectrum, BMW will introduce a performance-focused variant of the X3 powered by an evolution of the 425-horsepower 3.0-liter straight-six engine currently found under the hood of the M3 and the M4. In Europe, the X3 M will go head-to-head against the next generation of Audi’s hot-rodded RS Q3 crossover.

Tamer variants of the X3 will carry on with a BMW’s usual assortment of gasoline- and diesel-burning four- and six-cylinder engines. All-wheel drive will come standard on most variants, but select models will also be offered with rear-wheel drive.

German magazine Auto Bild reports the next BMW X3 will be unveiled in late 2016 at the very earliest, so don’t look for it to land on these shores until 2017.

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