The X3 followed a larger sibling, adding badge cred to safety and luxury options
ONCE the X5, BMW’s SUV breakthrough model, had blazed a trail across our 4WD landscape it was to be expected the company would follow up with a compact version. That was the X3 and it arrived in 2004. The X3 slotted in below the X5, much as the 3-Series fitted into the passenger lineup under the 5-Series.
A scaled-down version of the X5, it cost far less. It had the BMWfamily resemblance but the tough, chunky look that made the X5 attractive was lost. Buyers could choose between two V6 petrol engines and a turbo diesel. The base petrol engine was a 2.5-litre, producing 141kW and 245Nm, and the 3.0-litre’s outputs were 170kW and 300Nm. The diesel option, a 3.0-litre turbo six, put out 160kW and 480Nm. There was a six-speed manual gearbox only on the 2.5-litre model; all others had auto with the option of manual shifting.
The full-time four-wheel drive usedBMW’s xDrive system to maintain grip in slippery going. The suspension was independent all-round, the brakes were discs with ABS, there were alloy wheels but the spare was only a space-saver.
Inside the X3 had all you could desire with the list of standard features including automatic airconditioning, cruise, remote central locking, leather trim, multi-function steering wheel, power mirrors and windows and CD sound system.
The jury is out onBMW durability. The build quality is high but history suggests that cars with the blue-and-white spinner badge can become expensive as the kays climb.
If you choose to get into one it’s best to do it when the kilometres are low and get out again before the bills start to roll in.
Look for an independent specialist to have the servicing done, as dealers tend to be very expensive. Same goes for parts. Servicing is critical so make sure any prospective purchase has had the required maintenance.
With a comprehensive array of active and passive safety features, the X3 was given four stars out of a possible five by ANCAP. Active features include ABS, traction control, electronic stability control and hill descent control, while passive safety is well covered by front, head and side airbags.
The 2.5-litre petrol averaged in the mid-to high-11s. The turbo diesel claimed an 8.6L/100km average. BMWrecommended premium unleaded for the petrol models, later approving E10 ethanol blend for the X3.
Gripping yarn: The X3 uses
BMW’s xDrive system to handle slippery conditions