The X3 is the middle weight boxer in the BMW SUV segment. It falls between the X1, X5 and newly launched X7 SUVs. With its strong mix of looks, dynamic driving and high-class interiors the X3 comes across as a strong all-round package. The X3 takes on the likes of the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC and the Volvo XC60. From the outside it looks like a downsized version of the X5 and it share plenty of kit with the 5-series sedan. But is it a better overall bet against much fresher rivals? We try and answer that here.
BMW has played safe with this current generation of the X3. From a distance its hard to tell if this is actually the current generation or the previous one. You get the traditional and time honoured signature BMW ‘double kidney’ grille, which has grown a lot bigger from the last car(but thankfully still isn’t as big as the one on the X7). The double barrel headlamps look more aggressive as well and have a bold look about them. The creases and curves all across are bolder and the heavily sculpted front and rear bumpers too give it plenty of panache. Buyers will also appreciate the well balanced and proportionate look of the car. It feels like the perfect sized SUV. It looks like an athlete which has been regular at the gym and is ready to run a relay race. The alloy wheel design too is a very good and sporty design. Overall, it’s a design that won’t excite may but won’t start a debate among friends either. The conservative looks should appeal to a wide section of the Indian car buying audience.
The X3 has plenty of kit which is similar to the 5-series sedan. It also has a very similar looking centre console and dashboard design. Buyers will appreciate the clean and simple lines and the digital plus analogue gauges will be appreciated too. They have a clean look and offer a very nice display, free of an overload of information and high-tech mumbo jumbo. The centre console too is a clean design and function follows form throughout. The quality all across the cabin is faultless and its impossible to find even one patch of bad plastic inside the cabin. All the switchgear has a nice and solid feel to it and you will simply enjoy using the iDrive infotainment system. BMW’s iDrive, which is controlled via a circular swivel wheel is by far the easiest system to use among all its rivals.
Seat comfort is good too with plenty of adjustments available via the electric seat adjusters. The rear seats also offer loads of space and the cushioning is also very good. Infact for buyers who plan to buy this car for only back seat comfort, the X3 is brilliant. The leather upholstery all across is of high quality too. Overall, it’s a cabin that will keep you comfortable and the design won’t offend anyone either.
Engine, performance and gearbox
You only get one engine option which is a 2-litre diesel engine with 190bhp and 400Nm of torque. Power is transferred via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The engine is silky smooth once it gets some heat going. It is a huge improvement over the last version of the car where the engine felt very unrefined, especially when you revved it hard. The power delivery comes around 1700-1800 rpm and this makes it a very good car for daily city commutes since you won’t have to change gears often. Talking about the gearbox, it’s a very smooth unit with effortless and jerk-free shifts. You can also change gears manually using the flappy pedals behind the steering wheel. Even in manual mode the gearbox is a quick- witted unit.
Power builds up rapidly on the X3 and even when you smash the accelerator pedal hard, there is still reserve power available. In short, you will never be found wanting for more power. The cabin isolation is also good and even at faster speeds, the car manages to remain largely undisturbed by any noises from the outside, which are easily kept at bay.
Ride and handling
The X3 offers a flat and consistent ride. Potholes cannot unsettle the X3 and as the speeds increase the car feels better suited for patchworked roads. The car simply sits on the road like a leech and you will feel supremely confident in its reassuring ride. The steering also adds to the overall involvement because it offers the most communicative feedback of any SUV in this segment. The X3 reward the keener driver with an engaging experience and something that makes every drive a memorable one. Take it up the hills or push it hard into a corner and you will be beaming from ear-to-ear thanks to the sharp steering and responsive chassis, which simply loves to be pushed around.
BMW cars are known for their driving thrills and the X3 is no different. It delivers on excellent handling, plenty of space inside the cabin and refined diesel engine too. It is comfortable, loaded with features and simply feels like a well-rounded package. If you are in the market for an SUV that retails around Rs 60 lakh, then we simply recommend a buy. It remains the ultimate driving SUV for keen drivers and also a great car for anyone who wants to be in the backseat only.