Western Suburbs Weekly - - Drive Way - Bill Buys

THERE'S a broadly-chevroned metal­lic plate on the sill of the BMW X3 that quite of­ten re­flects in the SUV's back win­dow.

It's an­noy­ing. But it's the only thing we didn't like about the wagon.

BMW has a thing about the let­ter 'x'. The ve­hi­cle is the X3, xDrive is Beamer-speak for all-wheel drive and xLine in­di­cates the high­est level of spec.

There's a whole fam­ily of them, a cou­ple with 2.0litre petrol power, one with 2.0litre diesel and the top of the tree is the X3 xDrive 30d xLine, a 3.0litre turbo-diesel with all the trim­mings.

While the full ti­tle of the lat­ter is quite a mouth­ful, it does give the owner ex­tra brag­ging rights at gar­den par­ties. Or around the of­fice cof­fee ma­chine.

The hand­some ma­chine has ex­tra bright­work inside and out, a set of Pirelli-shod 19-inch dou­ble spoke al­loys, bi-xenon head­lights, fog­lights, auto-on head­lights and wipers and its leather trim is prob­a­bly from the hides of pedi­greed cat­tle.

It's dif­fer­ent from lesser BMWs, and is called Ne­vada, although it's prob­a­bly not from there.

The ve­hi­cle comes with ev­ery elec­tronic thingo known to man, Sport mode among them, so peo­ple who chat about Blue­tooth, voice ac­ti­va­tion, multi-speaker hifi, crash rat­ing and such-like will be able to rab­bit on for hours. But the bit that im­pressed me most was the rev­ers­ing cam­era.

The im­age on the screen must be what the ve­hi­cle looks like to a hov­er­ing hawk.

Front, rear, sides and top view are crys­tal clear, and if the images stun the mind, there are sen­sors all over the show to warn you of the rose bush a me­tre off to the left. Of course, you can spend more money if you want on some tempt­ing op­tions, among them a $3000 panoramic glass sun­roof, adap­tive head­lights for $940 and a whole lot more.

The X3 has grown in size too, and is now about as big inside as an X5, but not as bulky.

It can very com­fort­ably ac­com­mo­date driver and four pas­sen­gers, plus their lug­gage.

There's a big dash­board screen that dis­plays a va­ri­ety of data via an iDrive ro­tary knob on the con­sole.

The SUV is a hoot to drive. Its straight- six twin scroll tur­bod­iesel is good for 190kW and 560Nm, which can pro­pel it to 100km/h in 5.9sec­onds, yet we recorded an av­er­age 8.6litres/100km in fuel use. Xcep­tional, I thought. It also has a pep-suck­ing Eco mode to keep the greens happy, plus a few other econ­omy fea­tures, but who'd com­plain about an 8.6 av­er­age?

One of the best SUVs on the road. A class act.

Ver­dict: Big name for a lot of SUV: BMW X3xDrive 30d xLine

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