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      BMW X3 20d First Drive Review

      Santosh Nair

      Santosh Nair

      Why would I buy it?

      • Comfortable ride
      • Refined motor

      Why would I avoid it?

      • Steering is oddly heavy in Sport mode
      • Cannot seat three comfortably

      Engine and Performance

      Left Front Three Quarter

      The BMW X3 as such is available in both petrol and diesel guise. And lurking under that conspicuous bonnet of the one you see in our pictures is the diesel (20d) mill. It’s a thoroughly refined 2.0-litre four-cylinder (zilch NVH) whose 190bhp/400Nm is laid down on the tarmac through an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifts. As you feed it some throttle at standstill, the X3 is eager to get off the mark. And once past 1,800rpm, all of its 400Nm is felt like a thick slab of relentless power that lasts all the way to the 4,500rpm red-line. BMW claims this X3 can do the 0-100kmph in eight seconds and we don’t doubt that a bit. 

      Right Rear Three Quarter

      In fact, the best part about the power delivery is the linear manner in which the motor pumps out its horses which masks the feeling of speed entirely. It seriously is a delight to drive! And did we forget to mention that the gearbox assists this favourable driving experience too? Well, with eight gears to choose from, the transmission can easily slot into the right gear at precisely the right time for an uninterrupted power display. And the preset drive modes – EcoPro, Comfort, and Sport add convenience to the drivability depending on the situation. EcoPro mode will have the gearbox upshift in a hurry to improve efficiency, Sport mode allows for crisp but jerky responses, while Comfort is a promising balance of the two.

      Ride Quality and Handling

      Left Side View

      As a result of the adjustable dampers that can be toggled between Comfort and Sport modes, the X3’s ride quality can largely be adapted to suit the driver’s requirement. In Comfort mode, the soft damping allows for great bump absorption at all speeds. However, the soft nature also means there’s a lot of movement as you up the pace. In Sport mode though, some firmness can be felt over bumps and irregularities. But as soon as you gain speed, the X3’s damping improves significantly, permitting it to ride flatter with excellent stability. Otherwise, the steering, although direct and feelsome, felt unnaturally heavier in Sport which, I admit, did dampen my experience a wee bit. But that’s just about it, because handling-wise, the xDrive with its variable torque distribution to all wheels makes this Beemer markedly nimble around bends. 

      Comfort, Convenience, and Features


      Stepping inside the X3 makes you feel like you’ve progressed in life. It is not only the attractively designed cabin that entices, but the sight use of premium materials, lavish inserts, and intricate double seams that bring together all the extravagance to the trim making the occupants feel special. But, by far, we were bewitched by the Harman Kardon music player, which simply put, gets you doped with its sparkling sound quality. It’s an experience that’s all the more richer thanks to the quick and intuitive high-res touchscreen display.

      Second Row Seats

      With regards to the seats in general, they are large and comfortable even for tall occupants due to the premium cushioning and well-judged support. Even the rear seat occupants benefit from the convenience of a three-zone AC with dedicated rear vents. On the flip side though, thigh support could have been better in both rows, to begin with. Likewise, the rear bench can only accommodate two in comfort owing to the unfavourable middle seat cushioning and the tall transmission tunnel running through.


      Boot-wise, the X3 has 550-litres of swallowing capacity which can easily put up with a weekend trip for four. And adding some versatility here to liberate more boot room is the 40:20:40 split-folding bench capabilities in case it is not fully occupied. In terms of features, the BMW X3 comes equipped with a panoramic sunroof, cruise control, adaptive auto headlamps, ambient lighting, inner/door mirrors with anti-dazzle function, auto boot lid, rear window sun blinds, wireless charging, electric front seats with memory for driver’s seat, parking sensors with a rearview camera, 19-inch alloys, leather upholstery, BMW live cockpit- digital instrumentation, and infotainment touchscreen with iDrive and voice control.

      Safety Features

      Right Side View

      As expected, the Germans are quite apt when it comes to safety. The X3 comes with six airbags, ABS with brake assist, cornering brake control, dynamic stability control, and dynamic traction control. It also gets an electric parking brake with auto hold function, tyre pressure indicator, run-flat tyres, hill descent control, hill start assist, and ISOFIX child mounts.


      Right Front Three Quarter

      You could call it German executive looks at the very best. Moreover, the X3, just like every other sibling in the Bavarian manufacturer’s lineup, has loads of brand’s design language on offer. Including a tinge of ruggedness beneath the proud skin. Then, there’s the great build quality, pristine fit and finish along with exquisite detailing that’s of course glaringly apparent. By now, I’m sure you’ve figured that I’m not a fan of the X3’s stance by any means. For me it’s all about drama; the more the merrier. 


      Right Rear Three Quarter

      As a product, the BMW X3 tends to grow on you thanks to its easy-to-live-with nature. As such the only real deal-breakers we came across are the steering’s inappropriate heft in Sport mode and the lack of suitable thigh support in both rows. On the brighter side, one tends to appreciate the mature aura that’s mated to a well-packaged cabin with a usable boot, lots of useful features such as the brilliant sound system, and finally, the crème de la crème of car wizardry; a potent motor with spiced up dynamics. Nice one, BMW.

      Pictures: Kapil Angane

      BMW X3 [2018-2022]
      BMW X3 [2018-2022] ₹ N/A Onwards
      BMW | bmw x3 | x3

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