Test Drive: BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport image

The BMW X3’s second generation has been in production since 2010 and even if it will receive a new version of the next couple of years, we still went for a spin in the xDrive20d M Sport.

Engine and Transmission

The BMW X3 xDrive20d is powered by a 2.0 liter four-cylinder diesel engine. The unit is producing a total output of 184 HP (135 kW) and it has a peak torque of 380 Nm, which kicks in pretty fast, at 1,750 rpm. This is enough to help you make a safe overpass in Comfort, Sport or Sport+ mode, but in the Eco function, the vehicle feels heavy and the throttle response is significantly affected. If you’re wondering what the difference between Sport and Sport+ is we will tell you that in Sport+, besides the “regular” modifications, the Traction Control is deactivated, so you won’t really need this function unless you want to have as much fun as you can in a midsize SUV on the track.

The unit is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission which does its job pretty well in the city. In the Eco mode, the gears are changed very fast if you won’t push the gas pedal all the way but when you will find yourself on a mountain road with tight corners, the gearbox will sometimes forget what it’s supposed to do, and this is changing gears. This won’t be a problem which will make you pull your hair off but you will notice it, eventually, as you will notice it too on the highway, when you will be surprised by the fuel consumption.

Fuel Consumption

Speaking of this chapter, you should know that BMW is giving official figures like the 6.1L / 100km in the city, 5.3L / 100km on the highway and an average of 5.6L / 100km. Just as you might have expected, the real figures can get to 8.7L / 100km in the city, in a normal driving with the Eco mode function on, at 5.9L / 100 km on the highway, at 100 km/h with the AC on but jump to 120 km/h and the average fuel consumption will increase to 6.9L / 100km. This isn’t bad considering the fact that it’s a midsize premium SUV weighing 1,790 kg and coming with all-wheel drive so you won’t have unexpected surprises in this chapter. We have to mention that the tested model was fitted with the automatic Stop / Start system which can control very easy so you won’t have to deactivate it by pushing the button on the dashboard.

The Ride

The BMW X3 is a surprisingly comfortable vehicle and even if I have to repeat this word, in the Comfort mode, in which you will find yourselves most of the time, you will quickly ignore the small speed bumps or imperfections in the asphalt. Don’t imagine that this is as comfortable as a 5-Series or a 7-Series but it won’t ruin your kidneys either. The steering is extremely precise and the brakes will get you out of almost any unpleasant situation. We won’t talk about understeer because it will kick in eventually if you forget your place on the road and the vehicle which you’re driving.

An important part of the comfort is the driver’s seat, which is simply brilliant. You have enough settings to adjust so you will feel comfortable on it whether you are Fedor Emilianenko or Justin Bieber, and the same settings apply to the passenger’s seat too. And speaking of this, the rear passengers will sit comfortably too, but they will be lower than your driving position.

Interior Design

The BMW X3 xDrive20d in question came with the Leather Nevada Red brown option, which costs 1,252 euros. This means full leather seats, leather cover for the doors, for the front and rear arm rests and so on. I have already told you about the seats but the driving position in the model is quite high, even with the seat pushed all the way down, and this can be an inconvenient in the first few days, but you will eventually get used to it. The multi-function steering wheel comes standard but you will have to pay extra for the paddle shifters which are available with the 8-speed automatic transmission. If you decide you don’t want them, you may have to drop some other things from the list too, automatically, but trust me, you will never feel the need to change gears from them, unless you take your “special” friend for a ride and you want to show off. And let’s not forget that there is always the sequential mode which can be selected from the gearshift lever.

Some of the features found on the tested vehicle included the two sport seats in the front, the rearview camera, which is a “must” again and it costs 442 euros, VAT included, the head-up display, which is useful but you can live without it and add some other features for its 1,252 EUR cost, the professional navigation system (2,473 EUR) or the HiFi loudspeaker sound system, for 621 euros. BMW is offering a lot of legroom and headroom for the rear passengers even with a tall driver behind the wheel, plenty of storage spaces for the front and the rear seats, a dual-zone climate control with rear vents, three-stage heated front seats and a comfortable front armrest. The small “M” badges on the steering wheel, on the foot rest, on the side sills and so on will make your day every time you will look at them, if you’re a BMW enthusiast who wants a true “M” car but doesn’t afford it yet.

The iDrive is letting you personalize the vehicle and you may lose an afternoon making every adjustment necessary to your mind, which will include how much the trunk will open, the head-up display position, the climate control options on each driving mode, what Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes will activate and deactivate once they are selected and you even have some options for the turn signals which you definitely need to look at before taking the vehicle out for a spin.

The BMW X3 is an ergonomic vehicle. Each and every control or button is where you would expect it to be so if you’re familiar with other BMW vehicles, operating the switches will come in naturally, but even if you aren’t, this won’t be a problem as they can be learned very easily. One button which you will need to push when maneuvering the vehicle in tight spaces is located near the electronic hand brake “lever” and it will activate the front and rear parking sensors and the rearview camera can also be activated even if you aren’t reversing the vehicle, but this will disengage at speeds over 5-10 km/h.

Likes / Dislikes

The “Likes” category is a pretty big one and it exceeds the “Dislikes” one. Here we can mention the efficiency of the diesel engine, the suspension system, the steering, the stability of the vehicle, the M Sport Package, which is a “must” if you can afford it, at 5,157 EUR in this case, the Stop / Start system, the auto leveling automatic headlights, the iDrive, head-up display, the storage spaces inside, the aluminum touches and the rear legroom and headroom. A metallic color, like the Deep Sea Blue in this case, is also a “must” when ordering a BMW. The shade costs 884 euros on the X3.

The “Dislikes” part definitely includes the price, the automatic function of the headlights which will sometimes forget to turn them on or off, the missing cooled glovebox, the steering wheel paddle shifters, which are useless in all vehicles which don’t have a massive V8, rear-wheel drive and a 10cm ground clearance and we also didn’t like that small vibration in the steering wheel, felt when the SUV was sitting at a red light with the automatic start / stop deactivated.

Safety

The BMW X3 has received a 5-star safety rating from Euro NCAP when it was tested, a couple of years ago. The model scored 88 percent in Adult Occupant safety, 83 percent in Child Occupant safety, 53 percent in the Pedestrian category and 71 percent in the Safety Assist. The model tested was equipped with the 2.0L diesel engine.

Price
Entry-level – 42,036 EUR (VAT included)
Tested vehicle – 65,270 EUR (VAT included)