This is the third-generation X3, BMWs compact SUV that slots between the X1 and X2 and X4 and X5. You know if the Motor Werks folks in Bavaria come out with any more small models they’re gonna have to go to the decimal system. You know cause they’ve run out of numbers. On this X the exterior now has a sportier look for all of those off-road activities it will presumably be doing, or more likely aggressive parking maneuvers in the Bloomingdale’s parking lot. The roof is lower creating a more athletic line from the front axle to the A-pillar. The front fascia features a longer three-dimensional kidney grille with new headlights and running lights. At the rear are new taillights, twin exhaust pipes and a downward sloping roof spoiler that cumulatively add to the vehicle’s overall more aggressive and yes muscular mien. The X3’s interior fit and finishes are expectedly luxurious. Piano black is nice, like I know it’s fake, but I kind of dig this wood finish, but you know there’s badging everywhere. There and it’s there and it’s there and it’s there, you know it’s just in case you’ve forgotten what you’re driving. There and it’s there, and there. The dash is dramatically sparse but elegant with a well thought-out center stack starring the touchscreen display, but there are enough buttons to strike a nice balance between high and low tech. Good use is made of the center console. This might be the most integrated cupholders we’ve seen in a while. The low dash makes the cab feel brighter and improves visibility. The larger head-up display you get with the Premium Package is the same version used in the 7 Series, as is the optional digital gauge cluster just beyond the sports steering wheel. The seats are firm but I like how they feel even if they’re a little lacking in these snazzy looks department. No fancy Mercedes quilting in here. Legroom in the second row is okay if you’re behind me same as headroom, but a larger person either in front or in back might have issues. The middle seat isn’t really one. Again depending on your size and the length of the trip. Your stuff might be more comfortable because there’s 29-cubic feet behind the rear seat compared to 26.8 in the Audi Q5 ,19 behind the Mercedes GLC and 17.7 in the Porsche Macan. Acoustics inside the cabin are much improved over the previous generation, well controlled wind and city noise make for a really pleasant interior experience. Okay, now let’s see how it really drives. There’s virtually zero lag from the twin-turbo 2.0-litre inline-four that powers the X3 and shifts on the excellent 8-speed automatic transmission are expeditious and well spaced. Even in comfort mode flip it into sport and things become a little bit more interesting. The gears are held longer the acceleration is more immediate.Things get a lot more BMW-y. Want more control in quick acceleration situations? Simply hit these. Except for the fact that I’m sitting up high doesn’t really feel like a SUV. It feels more sedan. The chassis is rigid but firm and all the right moments and the suspension is rigid but comfortable. It really strikes a nice balance. it’s ridgomfortable. I’m so totally making that a word. Steering has a nice resistance in my hands. It’s responsive and it’s quick. I kind of feel like Goldilocks in this car. It”s a really great driver. Both rear and all-wheel drive options are available on the X3. Personally I’d pony up the extra $2,000 for the xDrive system with its enhanced traction handling and off-road capabilities. I know not many of these things are gonna get dirty but they should. So much fun! Base price on the rear wheel drive model starts around $42,000 dollars including destination. Doing basic math that’s $44,00 for all-wheel drive. If performance is what you’re after the X3 also comes in a nearly $12,000 pricier M-line performance edition that boasts larger intakes side skirt trim and a diffuser style rear apron all of which are designed to improve downforce. It’s powered by BMWs twin power turbo charged 3.0-liter inline six that makes some pretty beefed up numbers. Fuel economy numbers for the 2.0-liter X Drive are in line with the segment. The M40i numbers are expectedly smaller but not by much. Adding the M Performance version was an A+ move in our book, when considering the X3’s competition reads like a who’s who of first world problems, some of whom offer legitimate high performance track worthy options. The Porsche Macan with the performance package, Audi’s SQ5, the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43 and 63, and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Also vying for your luxury SUV allowance are Jaguar’s F-Pace, the Lexus NX, Range Rovers Velar, Acuras RDX and the XC60. It’s a pool party and everyone is invited. The option sheet for the X3 reads like a New Yorker article, prolific. The dynamic handling package includes variable sport steering and sport brakes and dynamic damper control for improved ride quality, 19-inch wheels come standard, though you can opt for 20s or 21s. The driving assistance plus package gets safety tech. For those who like the idea of not crashing features including active cruise control, lane keeping assist with side collision avoidance, front cross traffic alerts and traffic jam assist. Apple CarPlay is a $300 option, well because it’s wireless, which we actually like, and we can’t wait until this is an option that’s free in every car. Android Auto is a no dollar option because it’s not offered, at least not yet. this model we’re testing comes with all of those available packages and also comes with a sticker price of about $57,700. With rising consumer interest in SUVs and a fierce competitive set BMW needs the latest X3 to represent them well, and it does. Sure you can find a well-equipped luxury SUV at a lower price point, but if you’re looking for a luxurious German import that’s really satisfying to drive, well this X just might mark the spot.
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