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BMW X3 2007 Review

A few years later a 40W intellect in a 100W socket in the product planning department mused that if people loved the big wagon, surely they would equally love a smaller one — and the quicker they built it the better.

From there flowed the plan for then X3 in a bid to sweep up those who found the X5 too big or too expensive, but still desired to have the blue-and-white badge in their garage. The original X3 seemed all that the planners envisaged: It was a little smaller, though not much, and it was a little less expensive, although not much. It was, however, definitely cheap.

Developed and produced out-of-house by Magna Steyr Fahrezeugtechnik (MSF), an Austrian company, you couldn't help thinking it could have been so much better with so much more of the BMW "feel" about it. Obviously BMW shared some of those thoughts.

With the arrival of the second-generation car some key issues have been addressed.

While the exterior make-over is minor - a larger grille, redesigned body-coloured bumpers front and rear, changes to the lights — and just enough differentiation to allow the owner of the latest generation to appear at least slightly superior, it is the interior that really redeems the X3.

Gone is the feeling that you have paid a premium price for a utilitarian experience. The new X3 now looks, feels and even smells as a BMW should.

A new three-spoke steering wheel, restyled instrument panel, metal door handles, storage spaces and wooden trim — standard across the range — speak of soul, rather than Seoul.

A trio of more powerful and economic engines add to the quality of the revised X3. On test we drove only the 3.0-litre diesel (briefly) and the 3.0-litre petrol, missing out on the 2.5-litre petrol — which is the only model to offer the new six-speed manual.

Each of the 3.0-litre engines, coupled to a sharp six-speed Steptronic auto, have much to like about them. The diesel would be a more practical choice for the improved off-road activities the X3 is capable of with its new-generation X-Drive all-wheel-drive system.

Both its considerable range and strength at low revs would benefit an X3 destined for a bit of sand and dust. Around town the smoother petrol unit has the edge with its (relative) off-the-mark punch and quieter operation.

There is the usual grab-bag of electronic intervention and control functions — stability control and traction, dynamic stability control, ABS, dynamic brake control, automatic slip control, cornering brake control, increased braking readiness, fade compensation, dry brake function and hill descent control — to make your experience in the X3 safer and more relaxed.

There are also six dual-stage airbags — front, side and curtain.

On road performance, never really an issue with the X3, remains better than average for a sports utility vehicle, or sports activity vehicle in BMW-speak.

There are the obvious and unavoidable shortcomings of a high-mass, high-ride vehicle — particularly noticeable in tightening corners — but overall the experience is positive.

A couple of niggles remain, at least one of which — the absence of power adjustment for the driver's seat — is an obvious cost-saving measure. There is also the matter of the deletion of the i-Drive and shifting most of the useful operations such as radio and navigation to dash-mounted dials.

As one who never actually despised i-Drive, I find the new system less convenient, because reaching the fiddly knobs is more difficult and distracting than the centrally-mounted i-Drive control.

Closing the tailgate can also cause problems as the only grab-point is a recess on the door, an issue for the vertically challenged.

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Range and Specs

X3 2.0D 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $7,100 – 11,000 2007 BMW X Models 2007 X3 2.0D Pricing and Specs
X3 2.5SI 2.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,888 – 9,985 2007 BMW X Models 2007 X3 2.5SI Pricing and Specs
X3 3.0D 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $11,950 – 12,990 2007 BMW X Models 2007 X3 3.0D Pricing and Specs
X5 3.0D Executive 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $10,888 – 20,999 2007 BMW X Models 2007 X5 3.0D Executive Pricing and Specs
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