Sometimes, you can do no wrong. BMW seems to not be able to do any wrong at the moment, except maybe the 550iGT... we'll call it a "near-miss". Otherwise, BMW is in full product attack-and-launch mode.
In July of 2011, BMW took top spot in the luxury German car race over Mercedes and Audi, and I'm willing to bet that it had much to do with the new X1 and X3. Compact luxury crossovers are all the rage at the moment and as these lines are being written, BMW has the freshest, most attractive and - most importantly - some of the most affordable offerings.
Enter the X3 generation II. The new compact crossover has grown into itself and has shed some of its previously distinctive features. At the time, it was easily distinguishable from the X5, however, the current truck requires a keen eye, even from a short distance, to be correctly identified as an X3.
Think not this to be a mistake on BMW's behalf. Much like Audi, family resemblances between products are proving to be essential in a brand's success. The X5 is extremely popular (notice the number on the road!) and so the X3 should only benefit from resembling its big brother.
The question is, where does the X5 belong now that its little sibling is all grown up and nearly as buff? I'll let BMW answer that one, as the current X5 should be hitting the operation table for the 2013MY as it's been around since 2006.
Although handsome, I found my Mineral Silver Metallic test subject for the week to be a little underwhelming. The body panels are now broader and flatter than those on the old X3, and they've somehow contributed to the car's loss of previous flair. It is altogether possible that I was suffering from some rare form of ocular dysfunction (or so Miranda tells me), but then again, my last BMW experience was with the 650i Cabriolet. Can you blame me for finding the X3 a little bland?
Anyway you slice it, the X3 is a BMW and that's a huge thing going for it. The headlights' corona rings will leave no doubt in anybody's mind about who manufactured your compact CUV. And perhaps that's what's most important. If the outer shell gets attention (good or bad), what's on the inside matters little.
My 2011 BMW X3 xDrive35i is proof that exterior appearances and badging are what are most important. At $54,500, my X3's interior was covered in lesser black leatherette and without navigation. In order to get both items to further spruce up the cabin, the price will climb a further $4,100.
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