BMW X3 Review, Test Drive

By Ishan Raghava | on October 1, 2014

The BMW X3 gets a mid-term facelift. Well, a subtle one anyway. Here’s the lowdown…

The psyche of the Indian luxury SUV buyer could make for an interesting case study. They appear to want something that looks butch and aggressive – obviously, to make a statement with the vehicle they drive (or are being driven in). They don’t, however, even venture onto the pavement – leave alone going off-roading. So, it would be safe to say that the number one criteria for a crossover in our market is the way it looks and not necessarily it’s dynamic of off-road abilities. Think of the crossover like a ‘trophy machine’ – sort of like how some people choose their spouses!

So, it comes as no surprise then that the BMW X3 hasn’t had the kind of success in India that it deserves. The lack of ‘in-your-face’ styling means that consumers tend to give it a pass for other crossovers that look more aggressive. BMW had the opportunity to change that with the launch of the face-lifted version. But, honestly, the facelift is about as subtle as it gets. The headlights are extended all the way to the grille, in keeping with BMW’s latest design language, and the front and rear bumpers are a little more aggressive – but all this does little to increase the BMW X3’s road presence. You certainly have to know what you’re looking for to spot the changes.

BMW X3 Front View

In addition to the mild changes to the styling, more standard equipment has also been added to the car – which now features a panoramic sunroof as standard, along with LED fog lamps. The interior trim too gets a mild change with the introduction of a black high-gloss centre console panel and some chrome elements. A worthy improvement, though, is the latest generation of the iDrive interface – which now responds faster and has increased features.

The engine options, on the other hand, have been reduced to just one – with the 3-litre diesel no longer being offered. So, the sole engine being offered now is the ubiquitous 2-litre diesel engine, paired with the wonderful 8-speed automatic gearbox and xDrive all-wheel drive system. The 2-litre engine produces 188bhp and 400Nm of torque, allowing the BMW X3 to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 8.1 seconds. On the road, the BMW X3 remains quite pleasing to drive. While the 2-litre diesel is not as refined as its larger 3-litre sibling, it offers more than adequate performance for our road conditions. The gearbox, as always, remains an absolute pleasure to use – even though you don’t get steering-mounted paddles. The ZF transmission was so good all throughout our BMW X3 that you never really missed them.

As one would expect, the BMW X3 has impeccable road manners in both urban and highway conditions. Despite being fitted with large 18-inch wheels as standard, the ride of the BMW X3 remains very pliant and keeps the occupants quite comfortable. Given its well tuned suspension and inherent balance, the BMW X3 can be driven at high speeds with utmost confidence in all kinds of conditions – I got caught in heavy rain showers on multiple occasions during our BMW X3, but the BMW X3 was never fazed.

BMW X3 Interior

As far as space is concerned, the BMW X3 is a bit of a mixed bag. It offers a generous sized boot for its segment, and quite a decent amount of interior room too. However, while four adults will be quite comfortable in the car, the limited width means that seating five full-sized adults, especially for long journeys, may not be the most comfortable experience. BMW does claim, however, that the BMW X3 offers class-leading interior space – and we’re inclined to agree with that.

So, the BMW X3 offers refined – though understated – looks, comfortable interiors with plenty of standard equipment, and a capable engine and gearbox combination. But, what it lacks is the aggression and road presence to really make a mark in the Indian market. And that’s unfortunate, because, as confirmed by our BMW X3, the X3 remains a fine SUV to drive around everyday – offering a near-perfect combination of drivability, comfort and size for our congested urban centres. So, if you prefer to make a subtle statement rather than shouting your arrival from the rooftops, the X3 could be the perfect crossover for you.

BMW X3 Rear View

  • BMW X3

Engine: 1,995cc / 4-cylinders /16 valves / CRDi
Fuel: Diesel
Transmission: 8-speed / Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
Power: 190bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 1,750-5,750rpm
Acceleration: 0-100 Km/h - 8.1 secs
Price: 44.9 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi) 

Tags: BMW BMW X3

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BMW X3 [2014-2018] Model Image
Last Recorded Price ₹ 49.1 Lakh Ex Showroom Price (New Delhi)

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