The new BMW X3 is getting so much revenue for BMW these days. It is made to meet all road and weather conditions. BMW Blog puts the BMW X3 for a drive test to see what features make this vehicle a best seller. Can it drive well on difficult terrain? Here's an excerpt of their review.

Behind the wheel the first thing that is noticeable is the tight/stiff chassis. This is a very stiff platform and has allowed the suspension engineers to focus on controlling wheel travel and not body flex. It is much more difficult to make a large box stiff and BMW has shown its engineering and production prowess in pulling this off. The new X3 feels great (and rides very well), even on rutted gravel roads.

The new X3 shows off sophisticated suspension engineering. It utilizes a proven five link rear rear suspension and front suspension component mounting techniques that provides excellent feedback without noticeable harshness In addition the multi-link rear suspension improves interior space in the rear cargo area.

The electric power steering provides decent feedback (much better than prior implementations from other manufacturers). And, thanks to the tuning of the suspension geometry, when the right side wheels were purposely steered into a deep rut that ran parallel to the road, there was no kickback in the steering wheel.

The test cars were all X3 xDive35i models. As expected, acceleration is very good with the 3 liter gas turbo engine (the familiar N55B30). That engine coupled to the standard eight speed automatic returns a 5.5 second 0-60 mph time according to BMW. There is no optional transmission available, only the eight speed auto. The US will get the xDrive35i initially with an xDrive28i to follow. The world market gets an xDrive20d (and we saw pallets of those great little diesels sitting on the factory floor – please bring the diesel model to the US market BMW!).

From a practical perspective, owners that intend to do a lot of driving at altitude will want to opt for the xDrive35i variant. Otherwise, the xDrive28i and should return better fuel economy and still deliver a 0-60 mph time of 6.7 seconds according to BMW. If you have to own a really fast sport utility, BMW would be happy to sell you an X5 M or X6 M.

BMW purposely supplied cars with the Start/Stop feature installed for the US press to sample. The new X3 is the first implementation of Start/Stop functionality on an inline six cylinder and an automatic transmission. It stops the engine when sitting for several seconds at a traffic light, for example. If you lift off the brake, or turn the steering wheel, the engine restarts. It was a bit disconcerting at first, not so much when the engine stopped, but when it restarted. Prius owners are used to this, but since the Prius utilizes the electric motor to start off from a stop and then re-fires the gas engine as needed, BMW’s Start/Stop feels a bit different. If there is any anxiety about the Start/Stop functionality it can be disabled (there is a button to the left side of the Start/Stop button to accomplish that). While Start/Stop does take some getting used to, it could be a significant fuel saver, especially if you travel urban surface streets routinely.

So what is the verdict? It’s a good one and a significantly better vehicle than the previous X3. More luxurious, better ride and handling, great engines and a wonderfully smooth eight speed automatic transmission. BMW has delivered a driver’s SAV with the space, driving feel, and luxury that will delight its driver and coddle its passengers regardless of road quality or weather.

Source: BMW Blog