BMW X3 Test Drive Review
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BMW X3 Review

Car Tested: BMW X3 xDrive30d

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 61,48,340/-

The X3 stays true to BMW principles of high driver involvement.

The BMW X3 was launched in 2004 and in less than 10 years, this Sports Activity Vehicle, as BMW likes to call it, has developed a massive fan base in many countries. The second generation model (F25) was launched globally in 2010 and BMW launched it in India last year. The X3 is an important vehicle for BMW India and thus India is the only place in the world where it is assembled. BMW manufacturers the second generation X3 solely at its Spartanburg facility in South Carolina, USA. Based on the touring version of the 3-Series, the BMW X3 uses a monocoque construction and is as big as the original X5. The BMW X3 is hugely popular in both Europe and the United States, can it create similar success in the Indian SUV market?

Exteriors – The styling of the BMW X3 doesn’t stand out but tends to grow over you with time. There are quite a bit of X5 cues in the X3, which is certainly a good thing. The upright bonnet merges well with the forward slanting kidney grille and large almost rectangular headlights. The hood of the BMW X3 consists of six contour lines which sweep down towards the grille. The fog lights are placed quite high on the bumper, positioned right below the headlights. The headlights have signature BMW Corona Rings which function as daytime running lights.

The side profile shows the modest dimensions of this beast, with swooping lines further accentuated by chrome detailing around the windows and below the doors. The flared wheel arches along with short front and rear overhands further highlight the design characteristics of the BMW X3. The rear gets horizontal lines with T shaped LED tail lights positioned on the far extreme giving a wraparound appearance. Other exterior highlights include the aluminum roof rails, integrated rear spoiler and twin exhaust pipes. The xDrive30d model gets all aluminum kidney grille along with the XLine Pro exterior package, which consists of larger tyres and delicious Y shaped alloy wheels.

Interiors – BMW has given the X3 generous interior space, with the cabin offering ample amount of room for occupants. The wide X3 feels airy thanks to the large windows and big panoramic roof. Everything feels top notch inside, including fit and finish with the right choice of materials being used. The dual tone dashboard is very functional and interior space is one of the strong points of this vehicle. Not only are the seats extremely supportive, they offer splendid back support too. The rear bench is a bit low but offers very good legroom and headroom. The BMW X3 can seat 5 passengers in comfort.

The dashboard takes bits and pieces from the 3-Series including the seats, audio system and air conditioner. There are quite a few curves on the dashboard along with a metallic strip which runs right below the centre AC vents. The dash and doors get wooden inserts and a large 8.8-inch screen is integrated into the centre of the dashboard, which is the display screen for the fourth generation iDrive system and entertainment package (TV, DVD, et all) with 12-speakers. The typical BMW instrument cluster has four pods and is finished in classic black and white colors. A small display for the trip computer is placed right below the speedometer and tachometer.

The 3-spoke sport steering has the usual buttons to control various car functions and also has a chrome U shaped strip over the third spoke. The X3 has a lot of storage compartments and the driver centric centre console tilts towards the driver. The centre console has quite a few buttons next to the joystick type gear lever, including hill descent, auto hold, drive select, iDrive controller, electro mechanical parking brake, etc. The tail gate opens and closes electronically with the use of a button. Boot space is humungous at 550-litres and can be further boosted to 1600-litres with the rear seats folded. The X3 offers a lot of practicality and the seats can be folded in a multitude of ways.

Performance – The BMW X3 is quite heavy at almost 1.9 tonnes but that in no way results in the vehicle being a slouch. With the 3.0-litre, 6-cylinder diesel motor churning out an impressive 258 BHP of power and tarmac scorching 560 Nm of torque, the BMW X3 is quick and eager throughout. Tap the throttle and the BMW X3 responds instantaneously, with turbo lag well contained and the motor delivering power in a linear manner. To put it into number perspective, the xDrive30d will rush to 100 km/hr in just 6.2 seconds, while the top speed is 230 km/hr. That is very quick for a vehicle of this size. The motor has good levels of refinement too and NVH is extremely low, with a sporty rasp audible at higher revvs.

Mated to this smooth Bavarian oilburner is a 8-speed automatic gearbox, which is quick with downshifts and upshifts alike. The gearbox responds to throttle inputs splendidly, shifting into the right gear without any second thoughts. The tiptronic function lets you take over shifting and there are three modes to alter gearshift speeds and throttle response – Normal, Sport and Sport+. The taller gearing in high gears enable the vehicle to cruise comfortably, thereby boosting efficiency. The X3 also gets several BMW EfficientDynamics technologies including a start-stop function and brake energy regeneration system.

Driving Dynamics – The X3 is only available with BMW’s xDrive 4-wheel drive system, which is now in its third generation. This system channels 40% torque to the front and the remaining 60% to the rear axles. The multi-disc clutch can vary power delivery to the front and rear depending on road conditions. This system ensures optimum grip in all conditions and works flawlessly to enable moderate off-roading. The X3 stays true to BMW principles and handles very well. It is surefooted at all speeds and changes lanes quickly with body roll being minimal. High speed stability of this SUV is truly awe inspiring and the Bimmer stays firmly planted to the road at all speeds.

The splendid dynamics don’t come at the cost of ride quality, which is very pliant and comfortable. The X3 absorbs bumps with confidence and the chassis is so well engineered, it doesn’t transmit much to the inside. In Normal mode with the dampers softened, the X3 is simply flawless in the way it goes about conquering the worst of terrains. Surprisingly the vehicle rides decently in Sport and Sport+ modes when the dampers stiffen up and the steering weighs up heavily too. The electric steering doesn’t feel as direct and involving though but makes it much easier to navigate in low speed conditions. Brakes have very good progressive feel to them and have some serious stopping power.

Verdict – The BMW X3 excels in areas which an India SUV buyer will rate high on their agenda. Not only does the X3 offer splendid performance, it is quite frugal too and offers good dynamics. The ride quality is well suited to our roads and the interiors are well laid out with plenty of passenger room and luggage space. It may not be the most striking BMW vehicle, but as a package, the BMW X3 is very appealing, offering loads of practicality and technology, making it a strong contender in its segment.

The second generation BMX X3 offers comfort and exhilarating performance in one brilliant package.

What’s Cool

* Splendid Diesel Engine
* Ride Quality and Stability
* Interior Space and Comfort

What’s Not So Cool

* Styling Not To Everyone’s Taste
* Run Flat Tyres

BMW X3 Specifications

* Engine: 2993 cc, in-line 6, 24V
* Power: 258 HP @ 4000 RPM
* Torque: 560 Nm @ 2000-2750 RPM
* Transmission: 8-speed automatic
* Top Speed: 230 km/h
* 0-100 km/h: 6.2 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 8 km/l (City), 11 km/l (highway)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Independent Wheels Suspension
* Tyres: 245/50/18 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: Ventilated Discs (Front), Discs (Rear), ABS, EBD, CBC
* Safety: ABS, EBD, DTC, ESP, TCS, DBC, CBC, Automatic Differential Brake (ADB-X), Hill Descent Control, Six Airbags, Immobilizer

BMW X3 Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4648 mm X 1881 mm X 1661 mm
* Wheelbase: 2810 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1616/1632 mm
* Ground clearance: 212 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.90-metres
* Boot Volume: 550-litres, 1600-litres (with rear seats folded)
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 67-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1875 kgs