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BMW X3 3.0d 2006 Review

Welcome to the BMW X3 3.0d.

Welcome to the BMW X3 3.0d. From the outset some three years ago, the X3 has been viewed with a degree of reservation. It is, after all, essentially a bargain version (in BMW terms) of the highly successful X5.

Maybe the marking has been a little tough. Maybe it was influenced by the feeling there was something cynical about BMW's decision to knock out a slightly shrunken version of the X5 and declare it different.

Initially, at least, the scheme to outsource production of the car with Austrian company Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik (MSF) also raised eyebrows and questions about how serious BMW was with its new venture.

Time has proven the fears unfounded. The X3 has been accepted into a market looking for more compact, city-friendly versions of the over-sized off-roaders and yet it still couldn't find its way onto the personal favourites list, even with the wonderful BMW 3.0-litre straight six-petrol engine.

That all changed with the arrival of the latest generation of BMW's 3.0-litre oil-burner. An engine already recognised as outstanding in the 5 Series has performed a complete personality transplant in the X3.

There is a price to pay but it is one that should be accepted with good grace for it is surely good value. At $75,400, the diesel is $3000 more than the equivalent petrol and a world apart. The X3 3.0d should be a poster child for the push to diesel.

It is a prime example of the best benefits of the modern diesel: torque to burn across a huge rev range, refinement (not something you could say about previous generations of diesel) and economy that takes the edge off Australia's ludicrous diesel pricing premium.

So neat is the all-aluminium, in-line, six-cylinder turbo-diesel that it can even deflect the buyer's attention from the rather un-BMW like plastic feel that has characterised the X3 since launch.

The availability of better quality diesel fuel has opened the door for the technology in the 3.0-litre X3 — the latest high-pressure piezo common-rail fuel-injection system with twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder delivering high output, low exhaust emissions and low fuel consumption in an engine that can spin up to 5000rpm.

Power output of 160kW at 4000rpm and a muscular 480Nm of torque from 1750rpm to 2750rpm gives the X3 a lively feel and a claimed acceleration time of 7.9 seconds from 0-100km/h. That makes the X3 diesel quicker, slightly, than the petrol version — something that would have had the people in white coats almost certainly looking for you had that been claimed a decade ago.

There is still a little flatness, not really lag, as the turbo spools up but the overall feel of the acceleration is akin to a good-sized V8.

A muted diesel clatter is still evident from outside the X3 at idle — not somewhere an owner is likely to hear it too often. But from inside the cabin, the sound is more akin to pleasantly large-bore petrol powerplant.

The economy, however, is all diesel. Averaging just over 9.1L/100km on the test, the X3 passed with flying colours as that included a high percentage of spirited enjoyment of the engine's willing torque.

The variable all-wheel-drive system suffers from the general shortcomings of such an arrangement — a tendency to understeer and a relatively poor turning circle, although by no means the worst experienced recently.

Standard electronic fare includes ABS, stability control, hill-descent control and trailer-stability control. There are eight airbags, climate control, cruise control, trip computer, alloy wheels, fog lights, rain sensors and multi-function steering wheel.

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Range and Specs

X3 2.5I 2.5L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $6,400 – 9,900 2006 BMW X Models 2006 X3 2.5I Pricing and Specs
X3 2.5SI 2.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $6,800 – 10,560 2006 BMW X Models 2006 X3 2.5SI Pricing and Specs
X3 3.0D 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $7,600 – 11,770 2006 BMW X Models 2006 X3 3.0D Pricing and Specs
X3 3.0I 3.0L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $7,100 – 11,000 2006 BMW X Models 2006 X3 3.0I Pricing and Specs
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