BMW's new X6 was met with confusion when it was first introduced, as many in the media wondered how a vehicle the size of an X5 that only held four people would sell, especially since it cost around $8,000 more than its roomier cousin. As it turned out, the Munich automaker proved everyone wrong, and the X6's entire first year production run sold out in just a month. Now reports are that BMW is moving full-speed ahead into the CUV market, starting with the development of a new crossover based on their 3 Series wagon -- tentatively named the V3.
2008 BMW 3 Series Touring...
2008 BMW 3 Series Touring
Just as BMW tried to avoid SUV expectations by calling its X6 a Sports-Activity Coupe, the automaker plans to dub the new V3 a Progressive-Activity Sedan. Spy shots show a vehicle that looks similar to the regular 3 Series, but with a raised suspension reminiscent of an Audi Allroad. A taller roofline also provides the crossover with improved passenger and luggage space, however just like the X6, the V3 will swap out its rear bench for individual bucket seats -- meaning the car will only seat four people. Available with either rear-wheel drive or the XDrive system currently found on the X5 and X6, power is expected to come from the same range of engines as the 3 Series, which in Europe means a selection of four-cylinder, incline-six, and diesel options.
According to reports, the V3 is part of BMW's new strategy to offer CUVs across much of its lineup, and it will soon be joined by a V5 based on the 5 Series platform. Rumors are the V3 will reach showrooms by 2012, though currently there is no word on which versions, if any, will be sold in the U.S. Considering that crossovers are typically thought of as family transport for those who want SUV-space without the gas mileage penalty, creating a CUV that seats fewer people than the car it's based on may seem counterintuitive. Then again, when people expressed the same doubts about the X6, BMW insisted its SAC was aimed at a whole different kind of buyer. Considering how things turned out, betting against the new V3 PAS probably wouldn't be a good idea.