Looking for an SUV that is comfortable for the family, feature-loaded and matches your status? Boy, are you spoiled by choices! But worry not, here’s why you should and shouldn’t consider the BMW X3.
The midsize luxury SUV segment is getting fairly popular in the country. As a result, a lot of manufacturers have brought their SUVs to India, to capitalize on the market. Amid the grown competition BMW has launched the third generation X3, which is more spacious, luxurious and tech-loaded. Are these updates enough to keep it relevant in today’s day and age?
Name: BMW X3
Variant: xDrive20d Luxury Line
Engine: 2.0-litre, in-line 4 cylinder, diesel
Price: Rs 56.7 Lakh (Ex-showroom, pan India)
The BMW X3 has solid build quality
Despite being a compact crossover, it offers adequate space at the rear
The sporty handling makes the X3 a fun to drive car
Though handling is good, the ride quality of the X3 isn't plush
There's a noticeable lag in power delivery from the engine of the X3
The larger 3.0-litre diesel engine is not available in the BMW X3
Stand Out Features
A large panoramic sunroof in the BMW X3 helps more natural light to flow in.
The new BMW X3 is a good-looking SUV and has strong road presence. It packs a decent set of features and feels luxurious on the inside as well. But though the drive is comfortable in the city, the larger 3.0-litre diesel would have made it effortless. And the suspension too does its job well, but we know BMW is capable of delivering a better experience and that has left us wanting more.
If there is one aspect of the SUV that helps it stand out from the crowd, it's the handling. The X3 takes on corners with the attitude of a sedan, and the wide tyres along with the sporty suspension ensure you have a good time driving. If you are an enthusiast and are looking for a sporty-handling SUV, the X3 is your best bet. But if you value comfort, features or outright luxury more, there are others in the segment that might suit you better.
If you are a true driving enthusiast, you should also look out for the petrol xDrive30i variant which is priced similarly at Rs 56.9 lakh (ex-showroom). It packs a new twin-turbo 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine which makes 255.5PS of max power and 350Nm of peak torque between 1450-4800rpm. It’s also mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and gets steering-mounted paddle shifters as well.
In terms of design, the third-generation BMW X3 has evolved. It now looks more aggressive than the last model and gets BMW’s latest tech as well. The kidney grille is now bigger and features Active Air Stream, which opens and closes the inbuilt vents as per the cooling requirements of the engine. This is flanked by new Adaptive LED headlamps and LED fog lamps which are now slimmer for a meaner front look. The strong creases on the bonnet still remain for some added muscle.
From the side, the SUV looks more sober with shallower bodylines. The wheelbase is now 54mm longer than before and the wells now house larger 19-inch wheels which look a lot better as well. But the silhouette remains largely the same and so does the size. A neat little trick is the welcome carpet which is projected from the door sills at night, guiding you to your vehicle, exactly like in the 7 Series.
From the rear, the SUV has seen a complete makeover highlighted by the LED taillamps and the dual exhaust tips. Overall, the X3 now looks sharper and more aggressive than before, offering it a better road presence. Even when compared to other SUVs in the segment, the X3 holds it own when it comes to making a statement.
BMW delivers on a luxurious experience inside the X3 with the use of good quality materials. The dashboard gets soft-touch leather and there are stone finish, piano black and steel finish elements to highlight the console.The fit, finish and build quality is upto German standards and you even get a BMW display key fob from which you can switch on the AC blowers and get vehicle info. But you cannot move the car remotely like in the 5 and 7 Series.
Another thing you notice inside the BMW is how quiet the cabin is. BMW has used something they call ‘Acoustic comfort glazing’ on the windscreen for better insulation, and boy has it worked.
As expected, you get a commanding sitting position with the seats featuring power adjustment and memory. The instrument cluster is a 12.3-inch digital multifunction display which is clear to read. The graphics on it change according to the drive mode and in Eco mode, you get the average and instant fuel efficiency on the right cluster, with an option to limit the top speed.
The centre console is a familiar BMW affair, borrowed from the 5 and the 7 Series. On top is a very responsive 10.2-inch touchscreen which displays vehicle information, navigation, audio and vehicle information. But you miss out on gesture controls which are present on the sedan counterparts. In terms of mobile connectivity, you get the standard bluetooth and Apple CarPlay but no Android Auto. You also get a wireless phone charging pad below the 3-zone AC controls and if you're an audiophile, there is a 600W, 16-speaker, Harman Kardon Surround Sound system for your music.
Moving to the rear seats, the bench is relatively flat, which will help you to seat 3 individuals. But the transmission tunnel will cause some discomfort for the centre-seated passenger. And on a rainy day, opening the blinds of the super-sized panoramic sunroof lets you experience the weather as well as increasing the feeling of space in the cabin. Leg and knee room can accommodate larger frames as well and the backrest can further be reclined by 9 degrees, which makes it comfortable for even longer journeys.
REAR INTERNAL MEASUREMENTS
Rear knee room (min-max)
The boot gets a powered tailgate which open up 550 litres to store your luggage. The space can further be increased to 1600 litres with an easy-release mechanism for folding the rear seats. The boot can also be closed from the driver-side controls.
Powering the 20d X3 is a sensible 2.0-litre diesel engine. And while it does sound a bit small for a mid-size SUV, it does its job well while commuting. The first thing you notice when you fire it up is the refinement. There are barely any vibrations from the motor and you don't literally hear it below 1800rpm. However, the power delivery takes some time to kick in and there is a bit of turbo lag below 1700 rpm as well.
You get 4 drive modes to choose from: Comfort, Eco Pro, Sport and Adaptive. Selecting one of these changes your steering feel, throttle sharpness, power delivery and the ride quality via the adaptive suspension. For city duties, Comfort mode felt the most suited as the gear shifts are gentler and power delivery is mostly lenier. And while this mode does let you make easy overtakes, the power does take a while to kick in. Even when it does, it's not something which will excite you.
Out on the highway, 400Nm of peak torque made between 1,750-2,500rpm lets you cruise with absolute ease, without the car feeling out of breath. The 8-speed torque converter is quick to shift gears and delivers a smooth experience.
0-100kmph: 8.25 seconds
Kickdown 20-80kmph: 5.46 seconds
100-0kmph: 36.28 metres
80-0kmph: 23.10 metres
Switching to Sports mode makes the power more aggressive, but that initial delay for the power to arrive is still there. As a result, flooring the throttle results in a jerky initial push and then onwards a linear acceleration. This also happens while making overtakes and does get a little tiring over time.
The Eco Pro mode makes the X3 laid back, with an even gentler throttle response. And as mentioned earlier, the instrument cluster constantly show your instant efficiency and even the top speed gets limited. The Adaptive mode, on the other hand, takes inputs from the GPS and tunes the engine and suspension accordingly. But in our time with the X3, we ended up using the Comfort mode the most. And that's because…
Ride and Handling
In Comfort mode, the suspension damping is soft and you get a nice and comfortable ride. It softens bumps and undulations nicely and the suspension does its job silently. But the ride quality isn't perfect. Sometimes, sharper undulations can still be felt inside the cabin, accompanied by a thud from the suspension, and after large bumps the suspension takes time to settle down. As a result, even inside the city, you constantly have some movement inside the cabin. We would have not been complaining about this, but the 5 and 7 series have such good suspension setups that they have raised our expectations from BMW.
Shifting to Sport mode stiffens up the dampers and you start to feel even more of the surface, but this also takes care of body roll. So well, in fact, that you will almost forget you are in an SUV. And that’s the best part about the X3: its handling. The X3 takes on corners and windy roads head-on and barely ever loses its composure. The steering, though a little heavy, feels direct and the SUV sticks to the line you want it to. On a set of corners, it does bring a smile to your face. And on the highways, even some high-speed turns can be dealt with absolute ease.
Then there is the question of going off-road. The BMW X3 does come with the xDrive all-wheel drive tech but there is no dedicated off-road mode in the settings. And while it will easily tackle rough roads or a camping drive, we suggest you avoid taking it to particularly nasty patches.