BMWs have always been the ultimate driver’s machine and that has been their tag line for a long time, until recently it was changed to “Joy is BMW”. The German carmaker has always designed driver-centric cars be it 5 Series or the 3 Series. As the demand for SUVs was on the rise in North America, the Bavarian luxury car company introduced the X range of SUVs. Recently, it gave a facelift to its X3. We find out how good is this German SUV.

One thing clearly visible as an upgrade in the X3 is its design. The new 3 Series (F30) inspired headlamps are evident. The kidney front grille looks similar but it is the new headlamp design that is relevant. The side profile styling is similar to the pre-facelift model, however the new alloy wheels and the colour schemes do add a lot of glam to the X3’s styling.

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The X3 now clearly resembles its elder sibling, the X5. Even the tail lamp design is similar, and it looks like a smaller X5 from most of the angles. This facelift makes the X3 look fresh and this change is a welcome. Though designs are subjective, I can now see BMWs look a lot more appealing and even the styling is contemporary.

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The interiors of the X3 do not see a major change. The X3 gets an interior similar to the X5. This is a dual-tone interior with wooden inserts on the instrument panel. The plastic quality and even the fit and finish are top notch. The three-spoke steering wheel is leather wrapped and feels good to grip. The instrument cluster is easy to read and the iDrive, well one needs to get used to it and then it is very easy to operate. There are buttons and scroller on the steering wheel, but skipping tracks and changing radio stations might be a little tricky for a first timer.

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Space is one aspect you do not need to worry about. The front row seats are large and have good back, thigh and even side support. The second row of seating has good knee and headroom as well, the thigh support too is decent. The panoramic sunroof makes the cabin feel airy. One aspect that is good on the X3 is that the moon roof cover is thick unlike other luxury cars, where it is mostly a net or very thin and soft cover. BMW has ensured there is no compromise. The boot too is ginormous and there is a lot of space for that extra weekend luggage.

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The X3 is available with two engine choices: first being the 2.0-litre and the second is the six-cylinder 3.0-litre (known for its performance in the 530d). Both the engines come mated to an eight-speed self-shifting transmission and xDrive, which in BMW’s lingo stands for all-wheel drive. The 2.0-litre will be the most commonly sold one, and this engine produces 184bhp of power. We like the surge that this engine produces despite the size of the SUV. It isn’t very quick, but faster than most of the cars on the road. This engine has sufficient power, good enough for city driving and even for cruising on the highway. The X3 returned us a fuel efficiency of about 10km/l in the city and on the highway it was close to 13.5km/l. The Efficient Dynamics of BMW works well and this is possibly one of the most efficient luxury SUVs.

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The ride of the X3 is a bit stiff. There is no complaining, if you need the car to handle well it has to be a bit stiffer. But the good bit is that bumps and shocks aren’t too hard on the occupants and the X3 like other luxury SUVs does a good job. The handling is just like any other sedan. It has some amount of roll, but that’s about it. The new electronic power steering has made the steering light, but shift to the Sport mode and the steering wheel becomes heavy and the suspension stiffens. The throttle response is also improved and even the gears shift a lot faster. In the Sport mode, the X3 is a lot different from the comfort mode, where it is a bit more relaxed.

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The BMW X3 is a good luxury SUV, however the price of the X3 is a bit steep at Rs 68 lakhs (on-road, Mumbai), when the competition is selling at much lower price tag. BMW has better performance, but isn’t superior in luxury to the competition. BMW should at par with the competition and what Bavarian Motor Works offers is the extra driving delight, once you get behind the wheel.

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