What sums up cars in 2018 the best? A “compact” BMW crossover.
(Full disclosure: BMW wanted me to drive their 2019 X3 so badly that they put faulty PCV Valve Heaters on the N52 motors that could cause fires, issued a recall, and then 1 year later finally told me that the part was ready. I scheduled my recall and the BMW dealer got me a loaner car via Enterprise. I only had this for a few hours and I went to a funeral for my grandmother on my mom’s side, fun day.)
The compact luxury crossover game is so hot right now and BMW was one of the first to the market with their X3. So, in a way, this is all German’s fault, because of course it is. Danke schön, you Deutsch assholes. The first X3 E83 was 179.7 inches long, 73 inches wide, and 65.9 inches tall. In America, you had a naturally aspirated inline 6, AWD, and your choice of a 6 speed auto or manual. iDrive was optional, and the vehicle was not what one would call attractive looking.
Now the G01 X3 is much better looking, 185.4 inches long, 74.4 inches wide, and 66 inches tall. It is now longer and wider than the E53 X5. Model bloat is real, people. The engines are now a ubiquitous turbocharged 2.0 liter 4 making 249 hp @ 5200 rpm, or a turbocharged 3.0 liter inline 6 making 355 hp @ 5500 rpm. You can, surprisingly get rear wheel drive with the sDrive30i, but all are paired with the ZF 8-speed. Yeah, it’s a new BMW alright.
This X3 xDerivativeVerb30i was the “xLine” spec with a few options that made it to a $47,545.00 price. Generally everything felt nice and and fitting for a near $50k car. However, there is some cheapness that is just sad for a car made in 2018. See the aluminum braces? Look at them closer:
This will sound incredibly nit-picky but as a sales engineer in the auto industry the sharp edges on the cut ends are just fucking garbage looking. A little touch on a grinder/sander would add costs to these 3 euro parts but it would be worth it. But then again, BMW never expects any of their current customers to give a flying fuck, let alone even look under the hood. That brings me to the driving experience:
It’s a nice RAV4 you’ve built here, BMW.
I mean, it’s nice that you put paddle shifters on the steering wheel to give me something to do besides fiddle about with the iDrive. Manual mode will actually hold the gear all the way up to the disappointing red line which was somewhere around 6 grand(?) The 8-speed is quick enough on shifting and is adequately smooth in auto mode. In manual mode you could feel the shifts. But, 8 is too many gears. On the highway going about 70 I had to downshift from 8th to 5th in order for the little motor to build up enough steam to pass. That’s a bit annoying, but thanks to automakers efforts to best the EPA testing, gears 6, 7 and 8 are strictly for fuel economy. BMW claims 29 mpg highway, but that’s only going to happen if you put it in eco mode and live a miserable existence.
Acceleration is decent, with 0-60 going in a claimed 6.0 seconds, which my buttdyno agrees with. The motor makes noises when you stomp on the gas, they don’t sound good, but there are noises.
The steering has adjustable settings that range from mouse fart light and numb to heavy and numb. Yeah turning the wheel causes precise directional changes, but there’s absolutely no telling what the front wheels are doing. At low speeds and while stopped it didn’t matter what mode the car was in, it actually felt like the steering wheel had been completely emancipated from its duties of turning the front wheels. I had to look at the reflection in the cars in front of me to see if the wheels were moving when I rotated the steering wheel.
- The gear selector is still confusing as fuck
- The parking brake is a tiny electronic lever
- The turn signal stalk has now been reverted back to the style that stays in place when you shove it up or down.
- The parking sensors were overactive and annoying.
idrive is getting more and more functions with a drawing surface on the top of the knob, voice commands that worked quite well for navigation. And there are still physical buttons, knobs, and switches for the radio and climate control. The base stereo sucks, and with all of the software and customization you can do with modern car stereos, why, oh why are there only adjustments for Bass and Treble. What happened to the midrange automakers? You need all three, and it would be super easy to have.
The weird tacked on dash screen is weird, but the gauge cluster is just bizarre. It has partial physical rings but everything else is a screen that can change. I’m sure that you can configure it differently, but when I was in sport + mode in manual mode with the navigation on every time a junction was coming up, it would display it in the cluster and completely take over the tach. There is nothing more infuriating than when your tachometer goes away when you are down shifting for a turn.
Hmm, what else is there... The panoramic sunroof is fucking huge:
There’s some assorted quirks and features like the X3 stamped into the B-pillar:
The rear seat backs fold individually:
They can also partially recline or tilt forward with the little pull handle at the bottom:
The center seatback also has an armrest that folds down:
And this arm rest features some flimsy-ass cupholders:
There are also two cupholders in the center console in front of the gear selector and one in each door making a total of 8 for 4 to 5 passengers.
There is also an x in the front of each door because x:
This car also has a power tailgate for the lazy fuckers out there.
All in all, the seats were comfortable, the car was numb to drive and it’s a crossover.