Bigger And Better? (BMW X3)

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Why did we even bother?
Back then, the first X3 was just a SUV on a 3 Series platform which made it quite… arguably meh. The second generation was better, and it certainly did BMW much good when it came to the sales floor. So, finally we put our hands onto the first X3 on the BMW CLAR platform.

CLAR what?
BMW Codenamed it Cluster Architecture (CLAR). It’s a shared platform with the newest BMW 5 and 7 Series, of which we were pretty impressed by how it finally handles. And moving away from the 3 Series roots does bring some promises for a properly good handling SUV, right?

Give me corners
Did we grin? Yes. For a car of this size to handle with a giggle is no easy feat, but we’re very aware that our review unit was fitted with the M Sport package with a stiffer suspension setup, larger 20-inch wheels, M brakes and other little M things inside the cabin.

But like we discovered with our previous 5 Series test drive, we do think BMW has finally found its groove when it comes to suspension setup. The X3, despite the added size, handles well with a nice steering feel and controlled body roll. Minus the added weight and we’re certain it will handle just as well as the new 5 series.

It is b.u.m.p.y but if you want refinement, get the non-M package which has smaller wheels are a more bum friendly suspension. From an editor who likes hard springs with highly damped coilovers – it’s a good balance.

Fast?
Yes. The turbo 2.0-litre delivers enough for a smooth, BMW-quiet, and refined manner of gaining speed. The gearbox is smooth, unobtrusive and the all wheel drive system does a good job of shuttling most of power to the rear wheels. For good giggles, find an empty road, turn off the traction control and you can have some full throttle rear-out lunacy once you overcome the high grip levels of the Bridgestone Alenza 001.

Practical?
28 4-litre bottles of engine oil, a few batteries, 5 years worth of windscreen wipers and enough water pumps, gaskets and belts to service a car for 10 years. Yes we managed to cram all of that into the boot without folding the rear seats down. Does it have a big boot? Yes.

There is a small space under the boot floor as well for extra storage for smaller items which you will eventually find a use for. But the real nice touch is that BMW provided more storage for everyday things in the cabin. Fire extinguisher, 1.5 litre bottles, phones, tablets, tissues, you kid’s most unused toy, pocket umbrella, emergency wallet, all of those fit nicely into the various cubby holes around the cabin.

Do we want?
For a nice cabin, with one of the better sounding factory sound systems? Yes. For a large SUV that is as playful to drive as a sedan? Yes! Fuel economy was roughly 12km/l, which is decent for a SUV. The M Sport trim does have a lot of extras, but browsing through the X Line list of equipment, it still seems pretty well equipped without the M Extras.

We could knock BMW for some design elements such as the huge kidney grilles with nearly a foot of empty space behind it as well as the fake fender vents. but as a package, it is one impressive feat.

BMW X3 xDrive30i M Sport
Engine: 1,998cc, turbocharged inline-4
Power: 252hp / 5,200-6,500rpm
Torque: 350Nm / 1,450-4,800rpm
Transmission: 8 Speed Steptronic
0-100km/h: 6.3s
Top Speed: 240km/h
Fuel consumption: 7.6 L/100km
VES Band: C1 Surcharge
Price: S$248,888
Availability: Now (www.pml-bmw.com.sg)

 

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Always finding ways to keep his hands full, Krado loves to tinker with his car whenever he has the free time. Usually ends in tears or a multiple fluid facial.

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