Why would I buy it?
7.5 / 10
- Mile munching ability
- Comfortable, quiet, and well-equipped cabin
- Ease of driving
Why would I avoid it?
- Lacks driving flair
- Poor rear-seat thigh support
- Misses out on some feel-good features
7.5 / 10
As a car, there’s very little to fault with the BMW X3 facelift. It has decent road presence; the cabin is both quiet and comfortable; it has most of the essential features one expects at this price point; and, it doesn’t get fazed over poor or undulating roads. It is also light on your senses, be it driving in the city or out munching miles on the highway. The only big drawback with the X3 is that it doesn’t feel special unlike most other BMWs, then be it the new X5 or even the entry-level 2-Series. And therefore, there isn’t a strong or compelling reason to pick it over its competition. Great buy in its own right, yes, but not the default choice in the segment.
Engine and Performance
8 / 10
The X3 30i uses a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. The power and torque figures at 252bhp and 350Nm aren’t exceptional, but are right up there with the most powerful SUVs in this class. As a result, the X3 might not feel like a firecracker to drive, but it does make for a light and effortless thing to pilot around, be it puttering around in the city or doing three-digit speeds on the highway. The engine is fairly quiet and refined for the most part too, and it only sounds out of sorts closer to the engine’s redline.
Now, in terms of performance figures, the X3 30i recorded some handsome times on our VBOX. It completed the 0-100kmph run in a quick 6.58 seconds, while getting to 120kmph from a standstill took just 9.07 seconds! The roll-ons, as expected are very impressive as well, helped no doubt by the alert and well-calibrated eight-speed torque convertor automatic and 350Nm of torque that’s available from as early as 1450rpm. The 20-80kmph kickdown took 3.96 seconds while the 40-100kmph run was dispatched in a mere 4.92 seconds. And if it’s not obvious from these figures, yes, the X3 makes easy work of overtakes, no matter what the road condition or the kind of vehicle you are putting in your rear view mirror.
The X3 30i comes with driving modes as well. There’s Eco Pro wherein the throttle response is lazy, the gearshifts aren’t exactly lightning quick, and the steering remains light to twirl. Next up, there’s the default Comfort mode. And honestly, the configuration for the Comfort mode is so well done, one needs to make an effort to remember and try out a different mode just because it’s there. The throttle response in Comfort is alert without being snatchy; the gearshifts are seamless without perceptible delays; and overall, this is the mode that brings out the most agreeable character of the X3. One can also go for Sport and Sport Plus driving modes which make the X3 feel like it’s high on caffeine. And with the paddle shifters in play to go up and the down the gearbox, the X3 can be fun to play with; not outstanding, but engaging, nonetheless. Finally, there’s a configurable individual mode that the driver can opt for too.
Ride and Handling
7.5 / 10
A BMW the X3 might be. But, it’s also an SUV. And not something we would call lightweight either. So, even though it has trick suspension in the form of adaptive damping which gives it great stability at high speeds and over all sorts of roads, it doesn’t win against physics come a set of corners. It isn’t wayward or cumbersome, anything but. But around tight corners, the X3’s body roll and under-steering qualities are quite pronounced. It also doesn’t enjoy quick direction changes either.
As for the ride quality, it’s not the most plush or settled at low speeds, but it continues to get better as the speeds rise. It’s never really uncomfortable even at slow speeds, mind. For one, you can’t really hear the suspension or feel any jolts coming through. But instead of ironing out the small undulations or bumps, it seems to ride with them. At times one can’t see the high-frequency-low-amplitude undulations, but one can constantly feel the bobbing inside. At higher speeds, the same road section feels flatter, almost perfect. And this holds true over concrete road joints, rumbler strips, and over the odd depression in the road that’s always too late to spot. It is at 80kmph and above where the X3’s sweet spot lies. Kudos too, to adaptive damping here. The rebound calibration, especially at the rear, always feels well-judged, and with it, the ride at the back remains comfortable throughout.
Now, we mentioned earlier that the X3 isn’t the most at home dealing with tighter corners or quick direction changes at speed. It tends to understeer and to compensate for the X3’s pronounced movement through the quick direction changes, the ESP intervention is both early and abrupt. Even turning it off doesn’t really keep it from interfering. However, when doing long distance touring, it stays flat, predictable and planted then be it over flat roads, undulating roads, broken roads, or fast sweeping corners,
Interior Space and Comfort
7.5 / 10
This is a facelift of the X3, and as a result nothing has changed in terms of space on the inside from the previous model. It’s still a roomy cabin, there’s plenty of head and elbow room all around. And the knee room at the rear is agreeable too. The boot space isn’t exceptional, but it’s acceptable. However, with a rear row that splits and folds flat, there’s fair amount of flexibility on offer for carrying odd-sized luggage if such a need ever arose. Comfort-wise, the seats at the front are lovely; these are big, supportive, comfortable, and adjust for almost everything. The seats at the rear though still need better thigh support, and an adjustable backrest would help too. Plus, pulling the central armrest down should be less effort than it is now.
Features and Equipment
7.5 / 10
This is the top-spec M Sport version. And not surprisingly, it’s well-loaded. From having adaptive dampers to improved road performance, to smart differential locks to help it manage some off-roading - not to mention, adaptive LED lighting, ESP, cruise control with braking function, and hill hold, hill start and hill descent - the X3 packs in a fair bit. Additionally, it gets a panoramic sunroof, an electric tailgate, 360-degree camera, a three-zone climate control system, a digital cockpit, and a touchscreen multimedia system. There’s plenty more, but some features were conspicuous by their absence. Cooled seats, keyless entry, and adjustable back rest for the rear seats being a few.
7.5 / 10
The BMW X3 facelift isn’t going to make you go ‘wow!’ But, as a luxury SUV to drive everyday, or to take on a long road trip, or even go off the beaten track a bit, the X3 works wonderfully well. It’s easy to drive, it’s comfortable, it scores well on safety and features, and to our eye, it looks good too. The only catch is - because it does most things well, but nothing that checks the ‘outstanding’ box, it doesn’t make a very strong case of itself. Especially, when there are capable, likeable, and equally enticing options already in the market.
Pictures by Kapil Angane