2018 BMW X3 xDrive20d road test review
Without mincing words, I'm going say that despite my love for BMW cars, I haven't found the X3 model line to be very desirable. I was hoping that a long road trip with it could change my idea of the X3, but taking one back in 2011 only pushed the car lower down the order for me. But the new X3 is different. It looks so much better now. As I said in my recent comparative review of the X3, BMW finally made their mid-size crossover look handsome and more importantly, desirable.
The kidney grille now comes across as a bit of a liability on some of the newer BMW designs, but on the X3 it works in its favour by giving it an aggressive face. Speaking of signature design elements, the X3 has done away with BMW's long-standing Hofmeister kink and unless you are a BMW purist, you won't really miss or notice its absence.
The BMW is the latest entrant in the segment and finally, it looks handsome!
The tail end looks quite nice and primarily because of the three-dimensional design of the taillights. These may look overtly large in the photographs but look great in flesh and quite sporty at that. The overall profile on the X3 is much leaner now and the tighter lines give it a sportier stance. The gills behind the wheel arches and the ornamentation on the side skirts contribute further to its sporty vibe. In that sense, it visually puts the 'Sport' back in its SUV intentions and that is a positive sign.
The cabin complements that effort with its BMW-typical driver-centric dashboard layout. While the layout and design may seem familiar, the various dashboard elements like the satin finished switches, the flush mounted switches and aluminium finished inserts look classy. The iDrive is even easier to use now, but misses out on the novel gesture control that you get on other new BMWs. These should be available with the range-topping xDrive30d variant once it is introduced in the Indian market.
The seating of the BMW X3 is impressive in design and comfortable for long distance journeys. The lack of lumbar support adjustment on the front seats could make you feel shortchanged though. The rear seats have ample knee, foot and headroom and the backrest can be reclined by up to 10 degrees for additional seating adjustment. The glasshouse is large and so is the area of the panoramic roof. There are ample storage spaces in the doors and the boot space is one of the best in class at 550l (expandable to 1,600l with the rear seats folded). The car comes with a space saver wheel in the boot.
The X3 is powered by BMW's trusted B47 2.0l turbocharged diesel engine. Trumped only by Volvo's D5 engine on output, the xDrive20d churns out a healthy 190PS of power at 4,000rpm and 400Nm of torque from 1,750rpm. Using new aluminium construction for certain engine and suspension components, the X3 is now up to 55kg lighter than the outgoing car and in our tests, it managed to sprint from standstill to 100kmph in 8.2s, which is 0.2s off BMW's claim. The drivability is quite good on this motor and the mid-range pull is quite strong. The engine loses breath only at the high end of the rev-range, but you are are already doing illegal speeds by the time you get there and is, therefore, a non-issue in my books.
The big news for the new X3 is its ride and handling. It isn't an off-roader and doesn't even have an off-road driving mode. While the xDrive does aid in driving through mild off-road trails, the X3 is set up for road use and it absolutely shines when you hit the twisties. The trademark 50:50 weight distribution immediately makes itself evident as the X3 manages to maintain a flat ride through the corners and rewards you with confidence inspiring dynamics. The high grip levels from the tyres and the performance-inclined xDrive AWD only makes the package better as you start pushing harder. The brakes are impressive too, needing only 40.67m and around 3s to drop the anchor from 100kmph. It is easily the best handler in its segment and can even give some of the sedans a run for their money. All this, without compromising on ride comfort. BMWs have started going softer in recent times, giving in to criticism about Bimmers being too firm in favour of their fabled driving dynamics. But the X3 manages to achieve a fine balance between ride and handling without the need to employ expensive air suspension.
In fact, it is so good now that it makes the 2.0l engine feel too humble in the bargain and makes you want the power of the 30d or the 40i variants. Which is something I'm eagerly looking forward to, now that I'm finally bedazzled by an X3!
Starts Rs 49.99 Lakhs
Team OD | 21 Jan 2019
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