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Auto blogWed, 12 Feb 2014
If you think BMW toned down its third-generation X5 CUV a little too much with its latest redesign, the new M Performance Parts line of optional parts may give you a chance to inject in a new sense of style.
The aesthetic parts include new carbon fiber pieces for the mirror caps, front splitter, rear diffuser and rear aero flaps. There's also a rear spoiler, high-gloss black kidney grilles, M Performance rocker panel decals and double-spoke 21-inch wheels with performance tires. The interior upgrades are similar with an available Alcantara steering wheel with carbon fiber trim, stainless steel pedals and carbon fiber gearshift trim.
Not all of the M Performance Parts are about style. The M Performance Power Kit sharpens throttle response and boosts power of the X5 xDrive35i to 320 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, an improvement of 20 hp and 32 lb-ft, and an optional exhaust with chrome tips improves its sound. For buyers looking for improved stopping power, the M Performance Brake Kit adds six-piston calipers with 19-inch steel rotors.
The luxury crossover market has been a huge success for BMW, having sold over a million X3 models worldwide since the CUV first went on sale in 2003, not to mention all of the momentum its had with the larger X5. At the Chicago Auto Show, BMW is unveiling the refreshed 2015 X3, featuring an improved design, a new diesel engine option, and a rear-wheel drive variant.
The X3 is getting some handsome upgrades to the exterior. The twin, circular headlights now extend to touch the slightly widened, chrome kidney grille, to bring the styling in line with the 3 Series and 4 Series. (LED headlights are now optional, as well.) The front bumper gets reshaped brake cooling ducts, and the rear bumper gets a touch of additional metal trim at the bottom. BMW has also added standard LED turn signals in the side mirrors.
BMW has enhanced the interior with added chrome trim, high-gloss black trim around the center console, sliding covers for the cup holders and new interior upholstery designs. The X3 is also getting a major boost in optional technology - there's a new Parking Assistant, as well as an Active Driving Assistant with adaptive cruise control, Lane Departure Warning, Frontal Collision Warning, Pedestrian Warning, and City Collision Mitigation.
An annual market study of the strongest brands across various industries has seen Toyota leapfrog BMW as the world's most valuable automotive brand. Toyota's 2013 brand value rose to $24.5 billion, up 12 percent versus 2012 numbers according to market research company Millward Brown's BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands list. BMW's value fell slightly; down by 2 percent to a total of $24 billion.
Mercedes-Benz finished in third place in the automotive category, up 11 percent from 2012 for a valuation of $18 billion. Honda ($12.4 billion, down 2 percent) and Nissan ($10.2 billion, up 3 percent) rounded out the top five for the category. Volkswagen was the only other auto brand that finished in the top 100 overall, in 100th place. Audi made the greatest percentage gain over 2012, up 18 percent to $5.5 billion, but finished outside of the top 100.
Technology companies dominated the overall list, with Apple, Google and IBM ranking one through three. Couture brand Prada was 2013's biggest gainer, rising by 63 percent over 2012.