The new BMW X3 is a good example of a car that is a bit of an acquired taste. Even though it’s distinctly more attractive than the previous X3 with good details and nicely designed sections, the car takes a while getting used to. This model has a kidney grille, a heavy looking bumper and rear taillights.
The X3 is based on a frame-in-body construction, with a longitudinally placed engine that sends power to all four wheels. The car uses an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch to distribute torque between the front and rear axles. Auto start-stop also features in this car and comes with electric steering for better efficiency.
The 181 bhp, two-litre engine with a 1.8-tonne kerb weight is surprisingly spirited. Generous dollops of torque, along with the eight-speed gearbox make this car a decent performer out on the highway. Stability at speed is more impressive. There is very little tyre roar, the car rides silently over expansion joints, and it’s fair to say that BMW has achieved near-saloon car levels of refinement here.
Once into Normal mode with the dampers, the X3 sails over rough patches despite the large 18-inch wheels. Sport mode brings the dampers to firm up nicely and body control is much tighter. BMW have made big strides in the interior with a large cabin, impressive width, a wide dashboard and first-rate materials. The instrument panel is nearly identical to that of a 5-series, while the air-con, seats and audio system controls are like the 3-series. BMW has used sumptuous double-stitched leather to cloak the insides and you get the full bells-and-whistles iDrive too.
The new X3 is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor and BMW has done an excellent job of catering to the needs of the Indian luxury car buyer. All in all, it feels like a genuinely scaled-down X5 and BMW needs to only price the X3 right to get the order books filling up fast.
BMW X3 xDrive 20d
Price: R40 lakh (est)
Kerb weight: 1,790kg
Engine: 4 cyls in line, 1,995cc, diesel
installation: Front, longitudinal
Power: 181 bhp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 38.7kgm at 1,750-2,750rpm
Compression ratio: 16.5:1
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic
Fuel tank capacity: 67 litres