A lot has changed for the good
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.
ONCE YOU START UP THE X3, INSTANTLY YOU NOTICE THE LEVEL OF REFINEMENT THAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED IN THIS NEW VARIANT AS COMPARED TO THE LAST GENERATION
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