Bmw to Push Through With the F3

By: Zeke Gervis

After almost three years of lengthy internal discussions and a change of chairmanship, finally the long-awaited BMW 3 Series-based crossover/utility vehicle has reached production approval.

The versatile new BMW CUV, which will soon have the F3 badge once it reaches showrooms, has been under consideration since 2004 and that is based on the internal documentation recently shared with AutoWeek.

The development of the BMW 3 Series was delayed due the following reasons:

* The German automaker's engineering resources are stretched to the limit
* There are already new models lined up for production

Luckily, BMW's new Chairman Norbert Reithofer arrived on the scene in late of 2006 and that was also the time that the F3 was reviewed and after some deliberation, Chairman Reithofer has given the signal for the production of the F3.

The decision to push through with the production of the F3 is also brought about by the upswing in crossover sales in Europe and the United States in the recent years.

However, don't hold your breath just yet since the new CUV may likely to come in North America by 2010 and will have a starting price that will likely to include it into a crowded segment having direct competition with the likes of Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

The computer generated renderings shown on the net of the F3 is not yet final since BMW is till on the process of completing up the design. Details on the F3 remain highly speculative. However one thing is for sure that the new BMW's crossover will sit on a modified version of the existing 3 Series platform aside from that there are also plans to adopt various components from the next generation X3 which is scheduled to come out together with the new FlexRay system in 2009.

The FlexRay system aims to provide the new car with a stable network that would boost the advanced electronic driver aids and safety features. And in addition to the standard rear-wheel drive, moves are taking place to offer the F3 with the option of BMW's xDrive four-wheel-drive system in combination with certain engines. And of course since it is a creation of BMW we can expect that the F3 is going to be equipped with the best auto components and parts such as an .

The power for BMW's entry-level CUV will come from a range of four-and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines in a lineup similar to the ones found on the existing X3 wherein the top models are receiving an updated version of the potent 3.0liter, 300-hp, twin-turbocharged six that was earlier unveiled in the 335i Coupe late 2006.

The decision of BMW to push through with its compact CUV was brought about by the growing concerns over an earlier decision to build a larger seven-seat model which is known internally as the RFK short for raumfunktionales Konzept or space functional concept. It will have the badge F5 and would rival the Mercedes-Benz R-Class. However, with the present sale standing of the R-Class in North America, BMW's top brass are now wondering whether they are doing the right thing.

The degree of confidentiality that surrounds BMW's production plans for the F3 may be revealed by some clues on the company's recent announcement that it will shift production of the second-genX3 to its Spartanburg, South Carolina plant in 2009. Such move will definitely prvide extra space for the F3 at the Magna plant in Steyr, Austria where the X3 is currently being assembled.

BMW is hoping that with its F3 it will strengthen Europe's growing C-segment MPV ranks, which is presently dominated by Ford C-Max, Volkswagen Touran, and the Renault Scenic. Although it sis still very early to say but the F3 is expected to compete against the popular Mercedes-Benz's B-Class, which despite its really high price has become quite popular in certain markets with special mention to Germany where more than 68,000 of the B-Class were sold last year.

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