A lot has changed for the good

Auto Today - - Dashboard - PIC­TURES Nis­hant Jhamb

If you are amongst those who vis­ited the Delhi Auto Expo last month and couldn’t get your eyes off the BMW pavil­ion cour­tesy the new X3, then you’re in for a sur­prise. We had the op­por­tu­nity to take the gen­tle beast out and about and be­fore we start com­par­ing, here is what has changed in the new X3.

Be­ing the third gen­er­a­tion X3, the SUV will take on other giants like the Mercedes GLC, the new Audi Q3 and the Volvo XC60 in In­dia. The new X3 is based on BMW’s new CLAR plat­form which has seen con­sid­er­able stiff­en­ing and also uses light weight ma­teri- als like alu­minium, par­tic­u­larly used in the doors and the bon­net. This has re­sulted in the X3 shed­ding a con­sid­er­able amount of weight. Di­men­sions re­veal that the new X3 is longer, wider and stands a cou­ple of mil­lime­tres taller than the out­go­ing model. How­ever, the more sub­stan­tial and vis­i­ble change comes through when we check the wheel­base of both ver­sions. The new X3 sits com­fort­able on a 2,864mm wheel­base which is 54mm longer than the out­go­ing gen­er­a­tion. This is what makes the new X3 more spa­cious, adding more room and com­fort in the cabin. But we shall get to that later.

Ex­ter­nally the X3 re­sem­bles its older sib­ling, the X5 rather closely. At cer­tain an­gles and if you look close enough, it is hard to de­ci­pher which is which. What gives the plot away up front, are the new and larger kid­ney grille and the bolder dou­ble bar­rel head­lamp pan­els. The front bumper is new and comes with re­designed fog lamp re­cesses. This lat­est design ex­e­cuted by Marc Michael Marke­fka, head of design mid­size class, BMW au­to­mo­biles looks sharper and sporty as com­pared to the sim­ple round el­e­ments in the ear­lier vari­ant. In pro­file the X3 flaunts clean lines and comes across as a sleek ride with a dash of sporti­ness that gives the SUV an over­all no-non­sense char­ac­ter.

Once inside, the X3 looks dif­fer­ent and it doesn’t take long for us to no­tice that plenty in­spi­ra­tion has come from the 5-series sedan. The dash is padded along with a 6-inch in­fo­tain­ment dis­play and so are the door pads. All these com­bine give the cabin a well-fin­ished su­pe­rior look. The dis­play is now touch-op­er­a­ble and iDrive Sys­tem can be op­er­ated also via the ro­tary dial on the cen­ter con­sole. The sys­tem is quite in­tu­itive and of­fers a plethora of in­for­ma­tion. The in­stru­ment panel is also a dig­i­tal af­fair that changes de­pend­ing on which of the three drive modes you are driv­ing in. These modes in­clude Eco, Com­fort and Sport which can be se­lected us­ing a small panel on the cen­ter con­sole. The steer­ing wheel is firm and also comes loaded with neatly laid out but­tons. The driver can sift through var­i­ous func­tion­al­i­ties in­clud­ing the cruise con­trol and in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem from here. Be­ing a BMW, the X3 also gets pad­dleshifters and this is a huge state­ment con­sid­er­ing it is an SUV. A well-de­served spe­cial men­tion has to be given to the well-built cabin and the soft-touch pan­els spread across the cabin.

Space inside the SUV has im­proved as well, es­pe­cially in the rear sec­tion. The rear seats also fea­ture 40:20:40 split func­tion which aids ver­sa­til­ity. The boot is good to hold 550 litres of cargo and one can in­crease it by fold­ing the rear seats. In keep­ing with the fast-paced world that we live in to­day, it is per­haps apt to men­tion that the new X3 comes with handy fea­tures; like wire­less charg­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and the BMW smart key. The key can be used to browse through data like ser­vice sta­tus, range and one can even time the multi-zone cli­mate con­trol sys­tem to cool the

cabin be­fore you even step into the SUV.

BMW will of­fer the X3 in In­dia in the Xdrive20d vari­ant. This means un­der the hood, re­sides the tried and tested 2.0-litre tur­bocharged four-cylin­der diesel en­gine. Power out­put is ex­pected to hover around the 190bhp mark and torque out­put will be 400Nm. All this will be trans­ferred to all four wheels us­ing an eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Once you start up the X3, the level of refinement that has been achieved shines through in this new SUV. We have been told that the front wind­screen and the front door glass have bet­ter sound dead­en­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and that per­haps is the rea­son why the mo­tor is barely au­di­ble in the cabin. The 2.0-litre mo­tor of­fers brisk ac­cel­er­a­tion and the three drive modes add to the fun.

In Eco mode, the ac­cel­er­a­tion is toned down and the X3 feels a tad bit slug­gish for our taste. The progress is grad­ual and all of X3’s en­ergy is fo­cussed on re­main­ing as ef­fi­cient as pos­si­ble. Hav­ing driven in this mode for some­time, we in­creased the driv­ing range by five kilo­me­ters. This also means that on longer drive, the driv­ing range can be in­creased on this mode. Switch into Com­fort and the X3 morphs into a proper

high­way machine. Ac­cel­er­a­tion gets bet­ter and al­though revs rise higher, the fuel econ­omy does not go awry.

That is what hap­pens when one switches into the Sport mode. There is a no­tice­able dif­fer­ence in ac­cel­er­a­tion and the revs hold on much higher and this also means that the noise from the mo­tor starts to trickle into the cabin. The pad­dleshifters add to the over­all fun of driv­ing.

An­other fac­tor that stands out is the ride qual­ity and han­dling. There is lit­tle body roll to com­plain of and the SUV sticks to its lines even when cor­nered hard. The steer­ing setup chips in too and helps in adding to the fun. This also means that the new X3 sticks to its roots of be­ing a fun drive.


The cabin is big­ger and there’s more legroom in the front and rear. The SUV has handy fea­tures like wire­less charg­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and the BMW Smart Key can be used to cli­mate con­trol re­motely

1. The three drive modes are op­er­a­ble us­ing these but­tons. 2. The in­fo­tain­ment pro­vides plenty of in­depth in­for­ma­tion. A per­sonal favourite is the power and torque us­age. 3. The three modes ac­ti­vate dif­fer­ent dial dis­plays

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