My review of the new X3 35i
Collected my ride on Fri 25 Mar and after clocking 200km, here is my prelim review.
Buying this car was with some reservations. Coming from a 335 and TTS, immediate concern is whether this ride is gonna rock and roll given its high centre of gravity. The last time I owned a SUV was the Forester (250bhp version) back in 1999 and even then, that car was not of this height. It didn't help that I was concurrrently in frantic negotiation over an e90 M3 and deal didn't go through coz no meeting of minds between me and Munich.
So with trepidation, I took a test drive on 19 Mar when the car became publicly available for test drive. It was a virgin X3 with only 31km on the odometer. I was the first to test drive it. I think the media test drove the unit from BMW distributor itself and not the PML unit.
I took it for a long set drive, without bothering abt the interior blah blah, I simply focussed on its performance. It is one mother of a fast SUV and feels more than 306bhp and feels in every sense a big cc car. The car comes in 3 driving mode, comfort, sports and sports plus. The latter partially disables traction control and as I am not good enough for that, I test drove mainly on sports mode as I reckon that is how I will drive it most of the time.
As I was in a hurry to ensure I have a car before I release the TTS to the new owner, I decided what the heck, just get the car. My decision was a practical one as PML raised its price by 20k so I hope I won't lose much at the price I entered (launch price) and after driving say a year.
Ok back to the review. I collected my black on black a week after the test-drive. First impression, what a under-tyred SUV. The 18" look puny and a set of 20" rims are on its way.
Got into the car and this time I spend more time examining the details as my SE takes me through the car.
First the spec sheet:
This car is so highly specced there is really no more need to add options.
Keyless access and keyless start.stop. No longer have to shaft a ket to get the car unocked or the engine fired up.
Boot is auto open and open close without any need to yank it open or shut. Mirrors can auto fold by a touch of the handlebar.
Mirrors are auto-dimming. But kinda elephant sized.
Panaromic glass roof from front passengers to rear passengers but only front portion can be opened as a sunroof.
The car comes with professional sound system system incorporating navigation. The integrated system is so sophisticated it can play music that you stream wirelessly from you iphone. The bluetooth hands free is a blast to use. Phone conversation is super clear. You can slot in a CD and the system will rip the music and store it into the hardisk within the system. Can watch DVD but Code 3 only. The sound quality is day vs night from my e90 335 days. Music sounds darn good. The iDrive is also much more intuitive. Screen resolution is solid.
The interior looks like it is carried over from the 7 and 5 series. Almost identical wirth nice paddlehsifters. kinda luxurious BMW-style.
Controls on steering wheel is easy to use. Cruise control etc all incorporated as part of the steering wheel control. There is also a button to activate voice commands.
The seats are sports seats and not the regular sedan seats. Quality of leather is good with two stone stitching so the white thread stands out against black leather for a sporty finish.
The gear knob is the common one you see from the newer generations of BMW - space age design. Handbrake is just a simple button and not the giant lever in most cars. What is interesting is the car comes equipped with auto-hold. So when I stop at the traffic light, after I tap on the brake, the car will stay still without the need for me to rest my foot on the brake. The next time I step on the accelerator, the car will just move off. Useful whe u caught in causeway jams.
The car comes with auto-stop, some FC saving feature which switches off the engine whenever it stops for a while, which I hate. It switches on the engine again as the car is abt to move off. So I switch that off and don't use it.
As for interior trim, it come standard in dark wood so I can live with it.
As for space for the rear, it is very good. Much bigger than the e90 and I dare say bigger than the A4 too.
As for boot space, big my by standard. It comes specced with some extra stuff like netting, and quite a bit of hidden compartments. Even have hooks for hanging ta pao food.
There are parking sensors both front and rear.
The car has also been specced with the lights edition. Which means you get some lights under each handle bar. Nothing more than aesthetics.
Ok now for the more important stuff namely engine and handling.
The engine is a gem. it doesn't feel sluggish like what I feel on the TTS when taking off I was concerned all quattros will behave like the TTS. Thanks godoness no. Take off is easy with no turbo lag, And the gear box is very smooth, much smoother than the e90 335. Not sure if it is due to the N55 engine or 8 speed but the differences are obvious. This new N55 engine with singe turbo feels more refined then the N54 twin turbo.
I am resisting putting it on sports mode during the running-in period so have been cruising in normal mode which lets just say - is comfortable. despite on 18" run-flats, it rolls over almost everything in comfort. Your parents, in-laws and kids will approve of the comfort.
As for the handling, the steering wheel is light coz of servotronics. It will get heavier as speed is picked up. So it is a bonus for a big car. And it is big coz I see eye to eye with a XC 90 driver and some lorries too haha. It is taller than a XC 60.
BMW is touted for its RWD cars. So how abt the X3 which is AWD? My answer is they do need the AWD on such a big car. I don't think it will be funny to lose the tail of a RWD SUV. But sports plus mode might just do the trick for those more hard core drivers as traction control is partially disengaged.
The car in sports mode corners very well without being unduly firm. It is quite a different setting from the comfort mode.
Any regrets? Non for now as I buy it for what it is - a SUV.
What I like about the car? - New model, a gem of an engine, super comfortable and interior gadgets pamper me.
OMV is not great at $58k. I guess everyone is learning from Audi and lowering OMV. But at least I get a $58k COE.
Does the car look like it can sprint 100km/h in 5.7 sec? Definitely.
Won't post pics till the 20" are in and I have installed a nicer number plate design. That's all for now.
Now:E90 M3 (DCT) + 987 Boxster S (PDK)
Gone: 11-12 > Boxster RS60, 11 > X3 35i, 10-11 > Audi TTS Roadster, 08-11> E90 335i, 09-10 > Mazda MX5, 06-08 > Mk5 GTI, 04-06 > E39 525i, 03-04 > S80T6