First Look - BMW X3: What's the X factor?

26/08/2011 - 09:16 | ,  ,  ,   | Kaustubh Shinde

BMW X3 gear stickThe X series has been a huge success for BMW. Many X vehicles are actually the genesis of that specific segment.

The X6 started a whole new coupe crossover segment and the competitors like Audi and Mercedes are developing their own rivals.

Then is the even more successful X1 which created an entry level crossover segment and is giving many new customers for BMW India. Case in point - In July 2011, BMW sold 484 X1’s in India which greater than the combined figures of all the other BMW vehicles sold in that month.

Despite of being the leading luxury manufacturer in India, BMW India has always struggled to sell the X3. Part of the reason was because the old X3 was a bit of a minger and part of the reason is because the competition came with products that had a high aspirational value offering something that segment did not have.

Relevant or illustrative examples are vehicles Freelander 2, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60.

BMW X3 Front

The new BMW X3 (F25) was introduced in the US markets in 2010 and people from Uncle Sam’s land really liked it over the competition. So BMW India decided to launch the new X3 in India to get hold of the top spot in the compact luxury SUV segment.

What is the new X3 all about? Let’s find out:

BMW X3 Front

The new X3 gets a complete revamp of the front fascia which was the single most important thing that they should have done. The old X3 looked very silly with those spectacle-styled headlamps and meek, submissive looks completely not expected from a 40 lakh odd rupee car. The new X3 is a different story. It is a smart, handsome looking brute that someone would like to park it in their front lawn.

BMW X3 front fascia

The new X3 definitely looks more up market with strong lines flowing throughout the body giving it a very confident stance. Even the front bonnet gets six (yes six) character lines to make it look as if it was packing pure muscle.

Coupled with new headlamps that seem to have been inspired by the Z4, the new X3 ticks all the right boxes of what a compact ‘Luxury’ SUV should look like. However, if you a passionate BMW follower, you will miss the protruding BMW nose which in not present on the X3. Although you do get those typical corona rings, dual kidney grill and a shark fin to remind you that this is a BMW

BMW X3 top view

On the side, the new X3 gets even stronger lines that flow throughout the body. Even the fuel filler cap is surrounded by two lines. You get either 17 inch or 18 inch alloys depending on the variant that you choose. The window line slopes upward and you get roof rails on top with a panoramic sunroof.

BMW X3 side

The rear also gets a complete revamp with new tail lamps inspired by the X5 and a small spoiler. Two sharp lines also flow on the rear tailgate completing the whole appeal.

BMW X3 rear

Overall, the design job on the new X3 is commendable and definitely a step up from the old X3. However, it lacks a certain distinct image like the XC60 which will make your head turn more than once. But then again, that special touch has been missing through almost all new BMW vehicles lately.

BMW X3 headlamps

The new X3 is based on the same platform as the X1 – the 3 Series platform.  But somehow, the X3 is a taller SUV than the X1. Compared to the old X3, the new one is 3 inches longer, one inch wider and 50 pounds lighter. The 3 inch length is clearly visible in the interiors which are roomier than the old one.

BMW X3 shark fin

Step inside the X3 and you are greeted with a rather familiar interior that is becoming almost standard on all BMW vehicles. The dashboard is pretty much similar to the 3 Series and the X1. The visible changes are an aluminum gear stick instead of a plastic one and more buttons on the steering wheel. The cabin feels very airy thanks to the panoramic sun roof. The interiors are offered in a lot more colors option - 3 single color and 3 dual color options.

BMW X3 interiors

The front seats are very comfortable and not very body hugging. The center console is tilted slightly to the driver’s side. All seats are electrically adjustable. You also get a very familiar iDrive whose controls are right next to the gear level.

BMW X3 steering wheel

The rear seats are adequately elevated above the ground to give you a feeling that you are being driven around in a SUV. The rear AC vents make life cooler at the back. The seats have been arranged in a 40/20/40 pattern and can been folded down to give 1600 liters of boot space. With the seats up, the boot space is reduced to 550 liters, which still is a considerable volume.

BMW X3 interiors

The new X3 is only available in 2 variants: xDrive 20D and xDrive 30D which means both are diesel. This is becoming a norm across all manufacturers to launch only the diesel variant. Considering most SUVs are bought more in their diesel avatar rather than petrol,  launching only the diesel variant makes more sense and is a smart move.

BMW X3 gear stick

You get 2 engine options

  • 2L diesel with 184 hp and 380 nm of torque at 1,750-2,750 rpm
  • 3L diesel with 258 hp and 560 nm of torque at 2,000-2,750 rpm.

Both engines are mated to an 8 speed automatic gearbox with a tiptronic functionality. Unlike the X1, the X3 is a 4-wheel drive car. You get 3 suspension settings Normal, Sports and Sports+

BMW X3 engine

You also get a lot of features such as cruise control, dynamic damper control, park control, 6 DVD changer with 12 speakers, rain sensors on the wiper, etc. You don’t get a spare wheel because all four tires are run flats. Some ‘Efficient Dynamics’ technology has also tricked in such as brake regeneration and start stop functionality which promise to stretch the buck at the pump.

BMW X3 panoramic sunroof

On the safety front, you get 6 airbags, ABS, traction control, ESP and active head rest. You also get a crash sensor that disengages central lock and shuts off the fuel pump in case of a crash.

BMW X3 rear seats

The X3 is available in 8 colors – titanium silver, black sapphire, mineral silver, space grey, deep sea blue, vermillion red, sparkling bronze and alpine white.

BMW X3 boot

Overall, the X3 looks and feels like a premium product from BMW and not an entry level volume mopping attempt.

Speaking of volume mopping, just 2 days before the X3 launch, Audi launched stripped a few features of the Q5 and reduced the price tag to a little above 34 lakhs. However, BMW India believes that in this segment features are more important than price tag and hence both the models are adequately loaded.

There are no plans of introducing an ‘executive edition’ stripped out model but you never know when BMW will change its mind.

Do you believe this is a wise strategy?

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