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The X3 is the latest to join BMW’s refreshed cars portfolio, and it is definitely late in terms of getting a facelift compared to its rivals. But, does it have everything on point to go against them?

By Harshit Srinivas
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FAIR, fast & friendly

Keeping the funky and refreshed looks aside, what pushed me more towards driving the X3 was the exclusive Brooklyn Grey shade. Of course, it does look bold and sporty, but what if I tell you that this one makes more heads turn around at every single traffic signal. Honestly, we have already said a lot about the
looks and understandably so – the changes are limited to cosmetics only. However, we do have to talk about the driving bits with a BMW and we will talk about them and try to understand if the X3 is still as great to drive as it was before.

What’s new?
At first glance at the 2022 BMW X3, you can surely see some noticeable changes on the outside. On the front, you get a revamped fascia. The face is now wider with the new grille that is bigger than the previous generation. Although it is not as massive as its elder siblings, but it does carry a sense of belongingness to the BMW SUV family. It may not be very in your face, but it definitely has the bling with silver accents and no lustrous chrome. Next up, complementing this grille are the redesigned adaptive LED headlamps that have been neatly integrated with J-shaped DRLs. I did find the headlamps to be sleeker and sharper than the previous X3, and they added more to the sportier stance of the X3. I believe you will feel the same, and if not opt for the BMW X3 M Sport variant which gets a newly designed, aggressive-looking bumper as well making the X3 look even more sportier than ever. The M Sport variant also gets vertical air intakes that are neatly tucked in, with a piano black air damp in the center, connecting the two.

Now while walking towards the side you’ll notice the 20-inch wheels (optional) that are offered as standard to the first 50 customers only. The rest will get 19-inch wheels as standard. Our test car was the M-Sport variant. And,it came with black surrounds for the windows, blacked-out roof rails, and sporty side skirts. On the rear, the X3 looks refreshed with redesigned bumpers, tail lamps, and exhausts. Needless to say, this M Sport variant we drove had the M Sport bits, with vertical slats on either of the sides and a blacked-out diffuser too. The tail lamps stand out with a neatly sculpted 3D design making the X3 look distinctive. Another major change is the pentagonal exhaust tip that replaces the traditional circular tips, and is actually operational and not faux.

The changes are distinctive on the inside too. Step inside the cabin, and the first thing you notice is a layout similar to the outgoing BMWs, with a marginally bigger infotainment screen. The infotainment screen now measures 12.3-inches and can be integrated with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as an option. I am sure you might be wondering about me not mentioning anything about the wireless charging dock here. Well, that’s available as an option, and I do not feel one should shell out those extra thousands for this one as there are individual USB and Type-C ports on the front side of the cabin for your convenience. 

Speaking of convenience, you do get a gesture control feature for the infotainment system which works seamlessly for all the designated controls. And, what impressed me more in the X3 was the gear lever, that’s now finished in carbon fiber and Alcantara, giving you a much more premium feel. Now, this X3 which we drove came fitted with optional equipment like the park assist and panoramic sunroof, where the former added convenience to my driving the latter accounted for a well-lit and airy cabin. The two seats in the front are now electronically adjustable, but they still miss out on ventilated seat options. And, since there is enough support and comfort from these seats, a sweaty back won’t be a major concern for any of us, during those long drives. Now, on the rear, things are a little more appealing to those who like to be chauffeur-driven like our boss, who says the rear cabin of the X3 is a great place to be. With a good amount of headroom and legroom, alongside the comfy and broad seats at the back, he definitely was not ready to hand me the keys. That said, the X3 now offers you individual climate control features and sunblind’s at the rear to make it more pleasing. The rear seats are reclining too and offer adequate angles to rest while traveling and this by any means does not affect the colossal boot space of 550 liters.
Overall, the BMW X3 received a lot of upgrades, but nothing has changed on the dimensions front. But, I am sure these upgrades do add a lot more to the X3’s SUVish stance, making it more desirable for prospective buyers.

How does it perform? 
Nothing has changed at all on this one also! The 2022 X3 still retains the 2-liter twin power turbo petrol unit, making a peak output of 248bhp and 350Nm. The one we drove was a petrol variant paired to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission, which you do get with the diesel one also. The X3 has a number of driving modes, such as the EcoPro, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. The EcoPro mode as the name suggests translates to better efficiency; which means it dulls the throttle response and slows the gear shifts. 
The Comfort mode is the mode in which I drove for the maximum amount of time. And, honestly, for me it was an ideal one with perfectly calibrated throttle response and seamless gearshifts. Further, I switched to the Sport mode, and the X3 felt like an unleashed bull with an aggressive throttle response, allowing me to have an enthusiastic driving experience. Also, there is an Individual mode, which you can configure as per your choice. But, the party trick here is the paddle shifter that allows you to take the charge and go through those quick and smooth shifts effortlessly. And mind you even if you don’t take the reins in your hands the auto-box itself does the job really well.

How does it ride and handle?
Overall during our test, the X3 felt stable and planted even while taking those corners aggressively. The xDrive all-wheel-drive system added to its overall dynamics. The X3 also gets adaptive dampers for the suspension that adapt really well to various road conditions and driving manners. Speaking of which, you switch it to various driving modes, and the suspension setup gets altered. For instance ‘Sports’ mode gets a bit to the firmer side, offering better body control. The steering feedback is also adequate and you certainly feel the heft, allowing you to have more confidence while pushing harder around corners. Whereas, in the ‘Comfort’ mode the ride is a bit cushier, and the bumps are ironed out really well.

This particular X3 had the optional 20-inch low-profile wheels, which for me felt like an add-on to the stiffness. Now, this won’t be the same case with the standard 19-inch wheels, with larger sidewalls. The low-profile 20-inch tires in the X3 had a fair amount of grip, making you enjoy the drive. Also, with the electronic stability and traction control switched on, I did not feel them interfering with one’s driving experience. And, most importantly they do come in the game when needed, and guess what, that was and is the good part.

Should you consider this one?
Of course, you should. The 2022 BMW X3 comes at a sticker price of Rs 59.90 lakh for the SportX – the base variant, that goes up to Rs 65.90 lakh for the top-spec M Sport variant. Clearly,these prices show the X3 to be cheaper by Rs 2 lakh in the base variant and by Rs 1 lakh in the top end variant in comparison to the Mercedes-Benz GLC, but when compared to the Audi Q5, it surely demands a premium in the range of a few thousands to a lakh. But, to sum it all, I honestly don’t find the prices here to be a major concern for prospective buyers, and on top of that the X3 appears to be more powerful and torquier SUV than the two on paper. But, as I write this, I know that there is more that goes into a car than an engine. Therefore, I find the X3 ticking all the boxes in terms of refinement, ride, handling, comfort, and safety. Though, it still doesn’t come across as outstanding in something, but at the same time it also does not have anything major to be concerned about that restricts you from considering it as an option while looking for a premium mid-size SUV in this price range, with so much to offer.