BMW X3 2007 Review
French cars are obvious successes, led by long-distance Citroens, and Volkswagen is going well with Golf, Passat and Touareg.
Now BMW X3 joins the list.
The compact all-wheel-drive has just had a tickle for the second half of its life, as well as some significant upgrading. I am impressed.
The cabin improvements alone are worth a second look at the X3. It also lives up to BMW's promise of a sporty drive and there is lots of go with its 3.0-litre petrol six.
Power is up in both the 2.5 and 3.0-litre petrol motors, and economy has improved.
The changes are concentrated on the engines, interior and equipment levels, but there is more electronic trickery than before — mostly to make the car safer — and more outright safety equipment, including brakes that keep themselves clear of water and primed for action.
BMW also has put more emphasis on the diesel engine in the X3 and it is now bolted to a slick six-speed automatic gearbox.
The variable-vane turbocharger and common-rail fuel injection ensure good response and a broad spread of power.
The changes do not look like much. The lamps and bumpers are new, with deep-set foglamps in the nose, and there seems to be less cheap-looking black plastic.
Inside, BMW has gone all-out with new seats, a new wheel and instrument panel and an improved centre console.
There also is Bluetooth for mobile phones, more storage spots, and bigger bins in the doors.
Dig deeper and you'll find everything from twin-chamber airbags for improved side protection to parking radar at both ends.
There is still only a compact spare, something that concerned one tester who had a flat last year and faced several hundred kilometres of gravel roads.
In the driveline, BMW has linked the X3's intelligent AWD to its stability control and engine-management system. The electronic assistance runs from stability and traction control to descent control and even cornering brake control. Acronym addicts must love BMWs.
ON THE ROAD
MY ORIGINAL experience with the X3 was unconvincing. It felt underdone after the larger BMW X5 and overpriced after the Toyota RAV4.
This time, driving the latest X3 diesel revealed a car that is better finished, more welcoming and — though I did not push the edges — promises to be safer in a range of situations. And it's a nice drive, sporty and taut yet still good for carrying a family or doing the shopping.
The diesel has 160kW in the X3, together with a punchy 480Nm, which means it will jump to 100km/h in 7.9 seconds. That is pretty respectable for a middle-weight AWD, though I had no need to check the top of 210km/h.
The diesel also has excellent overtaking punch and, with the six-speed auto and the chance to take full manual control, can be fun on twisty roads or when you just feel like a bit of gear changing.
It is easy to keep percolating from about 2000 revs and will also pull hard to the redline in a most un-diesel style.
I also got 8.4 litres for 100km, better than BMW's fuel economy claim, despite some hard driving. So with a 67-litre tank, it will go a long way between stops.
The ride and handling is also good, with a solid feel and good response. The X3 turns well, does not roll much and generally feels more like a car than an AWD.
The facelifting work has made the X3 a little more stylish and far more user-friendly.
The cheapie look inside is gone, the seats are more supportive and the storage is better. Even the leather seats and new steering wheel in the test car were classy and contributed to a much better verdict on the cabin.
The X3 is still versatile and easy to use, will do the job in any road conditions and — thanks to all that electronic stuff that would take a book to understand and explain — always feels safe and sure-footed.
It is hard to find direct rivals to the X3 because of its compact size and premium price.
It is more costly than any Korean AWD wagon and sits above the popular Japanese contenders, but is not as big as the prestige Japanese and European wagons.
It is listed as a luxury AWD, which means it must compete with everything from the Audi Q7 at $85,700 to the Volvo XC90 V8 at $84,950, even though the 2.5-litre six starts at $65,900 and the diesel is from $75,900.
So it sits on its own. But I have tested the all-new Land Rover Freelander— which buries the current under-performer — and it will run the BMW close when it gets to Australia.
For now, the X3 is a definite winner.
THE BOTTOM LINE
WORTHWHILE improvements make the X3 better and look fresh, particularly as a diesel.
Range and Specs
|2.0d||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$9,900 – 13,530||2007 BMW X3 2007 2.0d Pricing and Specs|
|2.5si||2.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$8,750 – 14,990||2007 BMW X3 2007 2.5si Pricing and Specs|
|3.0d||3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$12,990 – 15,888||2007 BMW X3 2007 3.0d Pricing and Specs|
|3.0si||3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$9,888 – 14,975||2007 BMW X3 2007 3.0si Pricing and Specs|