BMW X3 xDrive 30d driven

  • May 04, 2012
"My goal was to create for the all-new BMW X3 a 'dramatic vibrancy' of light and shade, emphasising the form and definition on the surface with new bold X-ness," says Erik Goplen, BMW X3 exterior designer. And it does, as the new X3 combines the typical BMW X character with a dynamically stretched silhouette. The latest version has grown in size and is now 79 millimetres longer than the outgoing model, while the width has increase by 28 mm. However, the height has come down by about 13 mm. It's now closer to the X5 in terms of its proportions and there is a very strong resemblance between the two SUVs.

But the X3's sharply squared-off headlamps and strong crease lines on the side panels set it apart. Our test BMW sported the optional Xenon headlights and daytime running LED lights, which gave the X3 great character. It looks a lot more sporty and muscular which is a must for any SUV.

The high seating position makes getting in the SUV pretty convenient, whilst it also optimises visibility. As you settle in, you notice that the seats are firm, large, with good all-round support, which can be adjusted electronically. The increased dimensions have created better rear knee-room of 920 mm, which is 100 mm more than the competition.

The dash layout is truly BMW style, using the characteristic three-dimensional surface design, with a mix of wooden trims, leather and some brush metal highlights. The instrument panel uses Black Panel technology, straight out of the luxurious 7 Series. It combines state-of-the-art display technology with a classic round instrument look. The materials used look good and are built to last. It has phone and audio control buttons on the steering wheel, but there are no paddle gear-shifts and even the steering has to be adjusted manually. The standard equipment include iPod and USB interfaces, Bluetooth connectivity, rear camera, an anti-theft alarm and all-wheel drive system. The 8.8-inch screen of the iDrive is the largest on-board monitor in its segment, but would be more useful if the SUV came with reverse camera assistance.

The rear seats are split at a ratio of 40:20:40 and the three backrests can be folded down either individually or together. This increases the luggage compartment size from 550 litres to 1,600 litres, which would make room for anything that one would consider carrying for a weekend getaway.

The BMW X3 xDrive 30d comes with a straight six-cylinder, turbocharger, common rail diesel engine with a displacement of 2,993 cc. On tap is 260 PS and an amazing 560 Nm of torque available at 2,000 to 2,750 RPM. This three-litre diesel motor is an excellent performer and achieves acceleration from 0–100 km/h in just 7.11 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 210 km/h. Apart from the sheer grunt, it also uses some EfficientDynamics features like the Auto Start Stop function with eight-speed automatic transmission, brake energy regeneration, lightweight body and, of course, aerodynamics in lowering fuel consumption and exhaust emission levels. These work in conjunction to deliver a decent 13 km per litre on the highway and nine kpl on busy city roads.

The xDrive permanent four-wheel drive technology comes as standard. Its electronic control unit is interlinked with Dynamic Stability Control, which neutralises at an early stage any tendency to oversteer or understeer through fast and precise response. This can be noticed as the SUV has minimum body-roll, optimised traction and is quick to regain its composure even on tricky bends. The Performance Control makes the BMW agile and the speed-dependent power steering contributes significantly to precise handling.

The new X3 also features a newly developed suspension technology that is a combination of double-joint spring-strut axle at the front and a five-link rear axle. The suspension along with a widened track (92 mm wider than that of the predecessor) makes the ride a lot more comfortable. A luxury SUV carrying a hefty price tag is neither desired nor advised to be taken on some serious off-roading. However, we did manage to do a fair amount of off-roading with ease, thanks to the good ground clearance, the 18-inch run-flat tyres with tall 50 profile tyres and loads of electronic functions. But we were nervous, none the less, as the X3, like most BMWs, comes without a spare wheel and having run-flats wouldn't have have helped much as we drove to the back of beyond hunting for an ideal photo-shoot location.

It has features like Dynamic Damper control or electronically controlled dampers, adapts to road conditions and the driver’s style of driving. The driver can choose among the 'Normal', 'Sport' and 'Sport Plus' modes, by simply using a set of buttons situated conveniently on the centre console.

'Sport' and 'Sport Plus' made the response of the steering faster, but also altered the suspension and steering set-up, making it too firm for Indian road conditions. Even the shift timings of the remarkably smooth eight-speed auto box was reduced in the sporty modes.

The SUV is also substantially safe with an extremely torsion-resistant body, large deformation zones and the safety equipment package comprises front and side curtain head airbags, three-point automatic seat-belts on all seats, belt force limiters, belt latch tensioners and crash-active front headrests as well as ISOFIX child seat mounts in the rear compartment.

This X3 is surely fast, but remains pricey. Priced just below Rs 60 lakh, the X3 xDrive 30d is anything but easily affordable. You can save around Rs 10 lakh if you opt for the xDrive 20d, which is powered by a smaller and slower two-litre diesel motor. Or you can opt for the Audi Q5 2.0 Tdi, which is almost as fast as the 30d and costs as much as the 20d. But if you have the money, are a Bavarian flag-bearer and nothing gives you more pleasure than the rotating propeller on the hood, then how can you say 'no' to this powerful, mid-sized sports activity vehicle?

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