By Nauman Farooq
As they say, third time’s a charm! But does that stand true for the BMW X3?
I have not been a fan of the first two-generation models of the X3, always found them to be stiffer than they needed to be, not comfortable enough, and the performance was only adequate.
For 2018, there is an all-new X3, question is, have they sorted out the issues I had with this model in the past? Time to find out!
Styling: I have never been a fan of the way any previous generation of the X3 looked, and while the new model looks better, I’m not bowled over by the looks. Some say, it looks like a smaller X5, but I think it looks like a larger X1, and that’s not a compliment. So, from an exterior aesthetics point of view, it is -sadly- not exciting enough for me.
Interior: Open the door and climb inside, and things get a lot better. The look, feel, and technology on board seems to be lifted out of the new BMW 5-series sedan, and that is a very good thing!
So, if you’re interested in features like gesture control, a large LCD infotainment screen, and build quality that is simply “premium” – than the 2018 X3 will really appeal to you.
The improved interior space also really appealed to me, as there is now more elbow room, leg room, and head room, than ever before. The rear seat occupants now have plenty of leg room, and the cargo area has also grown in size. So, it is now a vehicle that can truly fit a growing family.
Powertrain: Power has improved, too. Currently, there are two motors offered with the new X3, a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four cylinder that develops 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque; or a turbocharged 3.0L inline-six cylinder that develops 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Both 2018 X3 models come standard with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, and an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox.
My tester had the 2.0L motor, which proved to be better than I was expecting!
Driving Dynamics: On the road, the 2018 X3 xDrive30i was expecting it to be. I thought, that a mid-size SUV –or as BMW calls it, SAV (Sport Activity Vehicle)- that weighs around 1885 kg, would be a slouch with just a 2.0L motor, but I was wrong!
Even in “Comfort” mode, this vehicle performs well, put it in “Sport” mode and it really impresses. The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h is over in just 6.3 seconds, while top speed is electronically limited to 210 km/h – that is fast enough! Even more impressive than its straight line speed, is its handling through twists and turns – it feels agile, light on its tires, hence tossable – that came as a surprise. While SUVs that can handle usually have terrible ride quality, but the new X3 never beats you up. How did BMW achieve a comfortable ride with good handling? I haven’t got a clue, but they’ve nailed it.
Fuel economy: It is efficient, too! I averaged 10.0 L/100 KM during my test week, and that is impressive. Only thing though, you have to feed it premium fuel, which currently is really not at a good rate.
Pricing: Base price of the 2018 X3 is $48,000 + dealer fees and taxes. My very well loaded test vehicle had a sticker of $67,195 – which is a lot for a vehicle of this category, but than, it is a better vehicle than I was expecting it to be.
Verdict: So, is third time’s a charm? In the case of the BMW X3, it sure is. It might not be pretty, and pricing is on the higher side in the segment; but live with one for a few days, and you’ll see that the 2018 X3 is all the vehicle you’ll really need in your life! It is practical, comfortable, economical, and performs better than expected – in short, it truly satisfies.