It’s love at first sight. The striking design language of the new BMW X3—featuring a bold front with a double kidney grille, adaptive LED headlights and fog-lamps, and the expressive rear that has LED tail-lights combined with a low-slung roof spoiler and exhaust tailpipes on both sides in chrome—attracts attention wherever it goes. The X3, in its third generation now, reflects a new, youthful BMW.
What is the X3?
It’s a premium midsize sports activity vehicle—BMW calls its SUV-shaped vehicles as SAV. It was first launched globally in 2003, and was a runaway success. The new X3 treads the familiar BMW X family path in combining rugged off-road looks with a sporty presence. While its exterior dimensions are largely unchanged, its 5-cm longer wheelbase, long bonnet and extremely short front overhang—which leads to 50:50 distribution of weight between the front and rear axle—give it a design edge both over its predecessor and its competitors.
What are the exterior changes?
Notable changes include the chunky 3D kidney grille treatment and fog-lamps in a hexagonal design (first time on an X model). The windscreen made of acoustic glass reduces wind noise. At the rear, the light clusters, downward-sloping roof spoiler and twin exhaust tailpipes in chrome give it a muscular stance. It also gets automatic tailgate.
There are two variants—Expedition and Luxury Line. The car in the photos, Luxury Line, adds extra richness to its inherent elegance. It’s got chrome radiator grille bars, two-tone underbody protection, air-breather in chrome and classically-designed 19-inch light-alloy wheels.
How equipped is the cabin?
The embossed X logo in chrome on the doors and the centre console is an eye-catcher. The interior is well-thought-out and spacious, with easily accessible storage compartments. Thanks to ambient lighting and six light designs, optimised cabin noise insulation, adjustable rear-seat backrest, rear window sun-blind and a panoramic sunroof, a relaxed lounge atmosphere is created inside the car. The luggage compartment has a capacity of 550 litres.
An interesting technology is the BMW Display Key, which allows you to keep in contact with the car round the clock. The smartphone holder integrated into the centre console allows wireless charging.
Which engine powers it?
Its 2.0-litre diesel engine produces an output of 140kW (190bhp) and a maximum torque of 400Nm, making the X3 accelerate from 0-100kph in just 8 seconds. The engine is mated to the eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, which has smooth, almost imperceptible gear-shifts. For greater driving pleasure, the transmission is available with steering wheel paddle shifters.
(The X3 is also available in a petrol engine option, in Luxury Line variant, for Rs 56.9 lakh.)
How does it drive?
As far as driving pleasure is concerned, few cars match a BMW. The X3’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system constantly monitors driving conditions and distributes engine power between the front and rear axles to suit the surface. Adaptive suspension, dynamic traction control, hill start assist, hill descent control, among others, help the X3 feel at home on almost every terrain. In fact, on good roads, the drive is so smooth that it feels like you are sitting in the comfort of your home.
It’s also got the Park Assist feature, which assists in parking or manoeuvring into parallel or lateral spaces—it comes in handy when you are looking for parking in, say, a mall.
How good a buy is it?
The Expedition variant of the X3 is priced Rs 49.99 lakh, while the Luxury Line is priced Rs 56.7 lakh (ex-showroom). Its competitors include the debonair Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi’s new capable Q5, and the futuristic Volvo XC60 … all priced close to the X3. While the X3’s got space, is luxurious, drives better than all premium SUVs, it does miss out on a key futuristic technology—the Driving Assistant Plus semi-autonomous driving, available globally but not introduced in the Indian model. Agreed, Indian driving conditions don’t yet support such technologies, but when a Volvo India can offer this, what’s stopping BMW India?