A seven-year life cycle is an eternity in car years, especially when the vehicle in question is a member of the very popular luxury compact crossover class. But even with a new version arriving for 2018, the 2017 BMW X3 still holds its own against newer rivals. Much of that is because of a comprehensive refresh in 2015, which updated the X3’s exterior and interior styling, among other enhancements. This year’s revisions to the iDrive infotainment system and new standard features to the xDrive35i trim only add to its appeal.
We’ve always considered the X3 one of the top choices in the segment, and the 2017 model is no different. In terms of the rear seat and cargo area, the X3 boasts one of the roomiest interiors in the class. That’s massively important if you have visions of taking your friends camping for the weekend and don’t want to upgrade to the larger (and more expensive) X5. That recent refresh also means all the latest and greatest tech and safety toys are on the options list, from a 360-degree camera to adaptive cruise control and a head-up display.
The X3, however, isn’t much larger on the outside. Its 4,708mm length, and also its width, are similar to that of the outgoing car. Where BMW engineers and designers have made more space, is between the wheels. So this all-new X3 gets an approximately 50mm-longer wheelbase for more space on the inside.What BMW has also done, to sort of compensate for the car not being much larger on the outside, is give it a larger and more prominent ‘kidney’ grille. It is taller, wider and more three-dimensional in nature now. The variable geometry slats protrude out ahead of the frame. And it’s not just the grille, the entire cowl or nose has been made larger. The double-barrelled headlights are placed higher, the bonnet is wider and the chin has been designed as if to allow air to flow through the engine bay in a controlled manner.
The glass house or cabin of the X3 actually looks similar to that of the second-generation car and while the very attractive tail-lights and hatch are very different, and the wheel arches are larger, the impression that the rest of the new X3 delivers is that of car that’s gently evolved rather than taken a big step ahead.Today, we have two versions at our disposal. The first is the 265hp 30d, BMW’s sublime three-litre diesel that seems to just get better and better every time we drive it. And then there’s the new 360hp M40i M Performance – a car BMW could get to India to take on the Mercedes GLC 43 AMG.
The Interior design of this SUV looks quite attractive wherein, each variant has its own package that distinguishes them from the others. However, all these variants have one thing in common is that they have pearl chrome accents and instrument cluster with high gloss black finish. The Expedition variant gets the Sensatec beige colored upholstery, while the mid range xLine trim gets leather Nevada upholstery, which is available in different color schemes. On the other hand, the newly introduced M Sport version is blessed with premium upholstery that comes with a combination of cloth leather. The space inside the cabin is exceptionally good, as it can provide comfortable seating for five occupants. The cockpit section has individual seats with electrical adjustable function. While the second row gets bench seats featuring adjustable head restraints. They can be folded for improving the boot storage capacity further.
The company has bestowed this vehicle with a lot of sophisticated features, which gives the occupants a comfortable driving experience. Both these variants have been incorporated with a 2-Zone automatic air conditioning system including active carbon microfilter and rear air con vents, which keeps the ambiance pleasant. It is blessed with an advanced features, which is known as ConnectDrive. It is equipped with a lot of advanced features. The list includes apps, Bluetooth with handsfree and USB interface, extended Bluetooth with audio streaming, voice control, office functions and contact photo display. It also supports HiFi loudspeaker system with nine speaker that enhances the ambiance of its cabin. Then it also has an iDrive with 16.5cm touchscreen display, which supports DVD player, integrated hard drive for maps and audio files. It has a rear view camera along with display on central console, which makes the parking quite easy. It has an advanced cruise control system along with braking function, which maintains a steady speed on the highways as set by the driver. Not to forget, its Driving Experience control is the most advanced feature that provides desired driving style with the help of ECOPRO, Comfort and Sport modes. In addition to these, it is equipped with a lots of features including adjustable steering column, all four power windows with one touch operation, electrically adjustable outside mirrors featuring anti dazzling function along with memory and automatic headlamps. Furthermore, it has rear center armrest with two cup holders, inside rear view mirror with automatic anti-dazzling function, storage compartment package and push button engine start and stop function. Apart from these, it also has sophisticated feature like a panoramic glass roof, which adds to the plushness of its interiors.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s plenty of models to choose from when the new X3 hits showrooms in November 2017. Like the current model, the new X3 will be offered with a 2.0-liter or 3.0-liter engine, but those can be had with a thirst for petrol or diesel. On the diesel side, you can choose from the xDrive20d and the xDrive 30d – that’s right; AWD is standard for the oil burners. The 20d comes with a 2.0-liter that’s good for 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque with the latter being available between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm. Fuel economy is rated at 52.3 to 56.5 mph on the imperial scale. It can hit the 62-mph sprint in eight seconds flat and will top 132 mph before she says no more. But, maybe that’s not enough. If so, you can jump up to the xDrive30d and get yourself an impressive 258 horsepower to go with 457 pound-feet of gut-wrenching, trailer-hauling torque. The later is available between 2,000 and 2,500 rpm and represents an improvement of 59 pound-feet over the outgoing model. Not bad, huh? AS it turns out, the xDrive30d will get you to 62 mph in 5.8 seconds on the way to a top speed of 149 mph. Fuel economy, however, is where the sacrifice comes in, as the 30d is only good for 49.6 mpg on the imperial scale.
Well, the xDrive30i comes correct with an extra 7 ponies on tap from the 2.0-liter, bringing output up to 252 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque that comes into play at a relatively low 1,450 rpm and holds steady through 4,800 rpm. 62 mph comes in as fast as 6.3 seconds with the right tires and motivation while top speed comes in at just 149 mph. You’ll manage to travel 38.2 miles per gallon on the imperial scale with this model. Finally, for those of you who crave that M goodness and desire BMW’s famed inline-six, you’ll want to check out the M40i. It comes with xDrive AWD as standard equipment and delivers a cool 360 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. And, that’s where the gains really come in for this generation. See, those figures account for an improvement of 54 ponies and 74 pound-feet over the outgoing model. That’s pretty huge for the range-topping model. These credentials are good for a 4.8-second sprint to 62 mph and a top cruising speed of 155 mph. And, according to Bimmer, this extra power doesn’t affect fuel economy, with the M40i achieving 34.4 mpg on the imperial scale.
Shifting duties for every model and engine happen smoothly and efficiently thanks to BMW’s eight-speed Steptronic gearbox. And, while BMW didn’t go into details, the transmission has been updated to for each engine for increased reliability while also being more efficient to help combat emissions and fuel consumption woes. At the time of launch, you’ll only be able to get your hands on xDrive models, the sDrive20i will come shortly thereafter, but if you live in Europe, don’t get your hopes up as it’s not ging to be offered in your market. BMW has gone to extreme lengths to refine the X3, and that includes a lighter rear differential and a revised transfer case – the same one that’s found in the current 7 Series – that helps to combat fuel efficiency as well.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
The X3 is only available with BMW’s xDrive 4-wheel drive system, which is now in its third generation. This system channels 40% torque to the front and the remaining 60% to the rear axles. The multi-disc clutch can vary power delivery to the front and rear depending on road conditions. This system ensures optimum grip in all conditions and works flawlessly to enable moderate off-roading. The X3 stays true to BMW principles and handles very well. It is surefooted at all speeds and changes lanes quickly with body roll being minimal. High speed stability of this SUV is truly awe inspiring and the Bimmer stays firmly planted to the road at all speeds.
The splendid dynamics don’t come at the cost of ride quality, which is very pliant and comfortable. The X3 absorbs bumps with confidence and the chassis is so well engineered, it doesn’t transmit much to the inside. In Normal mode with the dampers softened, the X3 is simply flawless in the way it goes about conquering the worst of terrains. Surprisingly the vehicle rides decently in Sport and Sport+ modes when the dampers stiffen up and the steering weighs up heavily too. The electric steering doesn’t feel as direct and involving though but makes it much easier to navigate in low speed conditions. Brakes have very good progressive feel to them and have some serious stopping power.
BRAKING AND SAFETY ;
As is the case with most German manufacturers, safety is a prerogative with BMW too. This is evident from the crumple zones, energy-absorbing bumpers and restraint systems. The X3 has upto 8 airbags for maximum safety. All technologies like anti-lock braking (ABS), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), advance Electronic Stability Programmes (ESP) are standard features in the car. It’s no wonder then that BMWs are considered some of the safest cars on Indian roads today.
The BMW X3 excels in areas which an India SUV buyer will rate high on their agenda. Not only does the X3 offer splendid performance, it is quite frugal too and offers good dynamics. The ride quality is well suited to our roads and the interiors are well laid out with plenty of passenger room and luggage space. It may not be the most striking BMW vehicle, but as a package, the BMW X3 is very appealing, offering loads of practicality and technology, making it a strong contender in its segment.