There are so many luxury crossovers currently available on the market that occasionally we pros can get them mixed up. Case in point: BMW.
Hang on… They’ve got the X1, X3, X4, X5 and X6 lined up side-by-side in dealerships, and unless you are very familiar with the product, not only do they seem to crossover market-wise but from a short distance away, they look almost identical.
Of that list, the X3 is the best suited for personal or family needs. Its size, both outer and inner, make it not only fit in most parking garages and manoeuvre with ease in city centres, but it will accommodate four passengers and gear without difficulty. Then throw in a diesel engine and superb handling and you’ve got yourself a complete vehicle.
What is a BMW X3?
The 2015 X3 is BMW’s other other compact crossover. It arrived in North America in 2004 on the heels of the highly successful introduction of the X5 Sport Activity Vehicle a few years prior. The X3 proved to be very popular, despite some shortcomings such as ride and overall build quality. That badge on the bonnet made it work.
The X3 slots itself size-wise between the X4 and the X1 (I know, it’s complicated…) as a no-fuss, true-to-its-conviction compact luxury crossover vehicle.
2015 BMW X3 Price and Specs
The 2015 BMW X3 is available in three trims, all of which are designated by their engines. The base xDrive28i sports a turbocharged 241-horsepower 2.0L 4-cylinder and retails for $43,300.
At the opposite end of the scale lies the xDrive35i that features BMW’s highly regarded turbocharged 3.0L inline-6-cylinder engine. Its 300 horsepower and equal torques ensure fast transit times. The entry price here is of $48,900.
The other option -- the one I reviewed and the better choice, in my opinion -- is the xDrive28d, as in diesel. An even $45,000 will get you the high-compression turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder that generates 181 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. My tester tipped the pricing scale at just over $50,000.
Thanks to a standard across-the-board 8-speed Steptronic transmission, the 28d reaches 100km/h in 8.3 seconds, and BMW’s xDrive AWD system is clearly standard as well.
Driving the 2015 BMW X3
I was none too impressed with the 2015 M3 I drove over the summer; the X3 was far more rewarding, or in other words, it matched my expectations.
Eleven times out of 10, I’ll opt for the diesel alternative over the gasoline engine. The reasons are quite simple: superior torque, improved fuel economy, and it’s damn cool. The only negative comment here was the diesel clatter noise that I found to be marginally too elevated for a Bimmer. A VW TDI is quieter. This shouldn’t be.
Otherwise, the 2.0L diesel mill loves its job of moving the X3 around. As of 1,750 rpm, max torque kicks in, but sadly drops off only 1,000 rpm later well before max hp arrives at 4,000 rpm. This lull in power delivery is briefly felt under rushed to harsh acceleration; however, in town it doesn’t figure as a fault.
The 8-speed ‘box glides from one gear to another with the slightest amount of throttle input. The Driving Experience Control (a fancy name for drive modes) influences shift patterns and throttle sensitivity.
Where the M3 threw me off was in its ride quality. I am mindful that the X3 is no “M” car, but BMW has always been able to find the faultless balance between comfort and handling. Thankfully, the X3 performs in true BMW fashion.
My long road trip with the 2015 X3 xDrive28d over the freeway, through country roads, and on less than perfect surfaces demonstrated that this compact CUV is at ease in all driving situations. And it is in these random yet common settings that the X3 showed off excellent braking power and well-calibrated variable sport steering.
Inside and Out of the BMW X3
The latest generation of the X3 shares its overall exterior design with the X5. So true is this fact that I’ve seen an X3 and an X5, both in Alpine white and with the M Sport line package, side by side and it took me a few moments to make out which was which. Remember, the X5 is only about an inch wider and 3 inches taller…
The bottom line is that the current X3 is most handsome, and sufficiently manly without being too macho. Said M Sport line package with the right wheels (such as the 19" M Double Spoke ones) make something nice even nicer.
The 2015 BMW X3’s cabin is conceived with care and attention. The layout is typical BMW fare with two-tier audio and climate controls. The more important commands are located to the right of the shifter and are fairly straightforward.
There’s an aura of quality on board, from the superb graphics afforded by the large screen to the upper-class materials used throughout. The cabin remains quiet and the seats are supportive; an ideal environment for long hauls.
Comparing the 2015 BMW X3
The BMW X3 competes in a segment where two of its siblings also play. This is definitely a tough crowd, but its main competition comes from its German counterparts, namely the Mercedes GLK-Class and Audi Q5.
The Infiniti QX50 and QX70 are close, same for the Lexus NX and RX, and the Cadillac SRX, but the Germans have it here. I’d say it’s a toss between Audi and BMW. A test drive is required.