BMW X3 facelift review: Old wine in a new bottle

    The updated X3 is funkier, better equipped and just as nice to drive as before.

    Published on Feb 07, 2022 04:21:00 PM


    Make : BMW
    Model : X3
    We Like
    • Plush cabin
    • Driving dynamics
    We Don't Like
    • Firm low speed ride

    BMW has joined the facelift bandwagon with the X3. Being the third entry, it might have been a bit late to the party, behind the Audi Q5 facelift and the Volvo XC60 facelift, but it sure has come well prepared. This mid-life update gives the X3 a much-needed shot in the arm to stay relevant in the hugely competitive ‘midsize luxury SUV’ segment.

    However, where its rivals have taken a more subtle approach, the new X3 is bolder and has a bit more flash.

    BMW X3 facelift: exterior

    The exterior design gets some noticeable changes that not only look modern and funky, but also help it stand out from the crowd. Starting at the front, you get a revamped face where the grille has grown in size. Now, in brushed metal and single-piece avatar, it still isn’t as polarising as the gigantic one on the X7, but it is a prominent part of the fascia. Look closer, and you will also notice the ‘active air stream’ that acts as a curtain inside the grille. It opens and shuts depending on the engine temperature and helps with air flow, and reduces drag.

    Then there are the adaptive LED headlamps that get ‘J-blades’ for the Daytime Running Lamps, like the ones on the facelifted BMW 5 series. The headlamp housing is sleeker and sharper, and they look a lot more modern now. On top-spec ‘M-sport’ trim (like the one seen here), it gets aggressive looking bumpers with plenty of angles and a contrasting piano black panel for the air dam, adding to the sporty appeal. A special mention must be made to the lovely “Brooklyn Grey” paint shade that looks absolutely superb, especially in M-sport guise. For those who don’t mind being a bit bold, this is a shade worth a thought.

    Over to the side, the optional 20-inch wheels give it a stunning profile, and customers who pre-booked the X3 will get them as standard and free of charge. A little gift for putting faith early on. They look sharp as they fill out the wheel wells beautifully and the overall stance is just superb. But the low tyre profile is a bit of an issue. As standard, the X3 gets 19-inch wheels.

    Dimensionally, there has been no change to the facelifted X3, so the length and wheelbase remain as they were. On this M-sport trim though, you get a blacked-out frame around the windows, blacked-out roof rails, and a sporty side skirt as well.

    At the rear, the tail-lamps are the biggest talking points. They are sharp, just like the headlamps, and thanks to 3D modelling, they are extremely attractive, especially in the dark. The other M-specific bit is the squared off bumper along with a blacked-out diffuser, which might not add much to performance, but sure looks cool. And lastly, the chromed-out angular exhaust tips that replace the circular ones. They are chunky, and unlike many luxury cars, they are actually connected to the exhaust and aren’t just a fake accessory bolted onto the bumper.

    BMW X3 facelift: interior

    Like the exterior, the interior of the new X3 also has some noticeable changes. The dashboard layout is in line with modern BMWs that feature the large, free-floating 12.3-inch touchscreen at the centre. It is a big step up from the previous version thanks to its crisp HD resolution and fantastic responsiveness. It also gets gesture controls for various multimedia commands, which is rather useful in everyday driving, and a superb 360-degree parking camera that is excellent to use.

    Then there is the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that is similar to the outgoing model, barring some new graphics. Still, it isn’t as intuitive as Audi’s virtual cockpit. Low down, the gear lever is more rounded, and gets repositioned buttons for the array of functions on the X3. The M-sport version also gets a sportier and chunky three-spoke steering wheel with thumb rests and leather upholstery along with an M-badge. Important bits like the wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, park assist and the panoramic sunroof are very much present, but you will have to shell out a bit extra if you want wireless charging. Also, what is a bit of a miss and could have been introduced on this facelift is ventilation and massaging for the front seats, at least on the top-spec trim. Still, the seats are comfy and broad, and get optimum levels of cushioning. So, apart from a sweaty back, long drives will be comfortable.

    In terms of cabin space, those who spend time in the back seat won't complain much. The X3 has a good amount of legroom and headroom, and the seat back is at a comfortable angle as well. Neither too upright, nor too reclined. There is also individual climate control at the rear, and sunblinds to cocoon you, along with a 16-speaker Harman-Kardon audio system. As mentioned earlier, there has been no change to the X3 in terms of its dimensions, so the boot capacity is still at 550 litres, with the option of folding down the rear seats, which is plenty.

    BMW X3 facelift: drive and performance

    The refreshed X3 is more about surface changes, so there hasn’t been any revision to the powertrain. Currently, it is only available in the xDrive30i guise with the same 252hp, 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine as before, which comes mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox powering all four wheels via the xDrive AWD system. Performance is brisk with 0-100kph taking just 6.6secs, but it isn’t about outright performance on a car like the X3. Since it caters to an audience that prefers luxury, refinement and comfort take top priority. Hence, while the 2.0-litre engine is quick and fun, it is also superbly refined and smooth.

    Power delivery is linear and there is more than sufficient grunt for quick overtakes on the highway. The 8-speed torque converter gearbox is also well calibrated to amble around 1,500rpm at triple digit speeds, making long distance cruising effortless and comfortable. Still, if you want to have some good ol’ BMW fun, slot the drive mode in Sport, and you now have an SUV that is eager, with a steering that is heftier and sharper, gearbox that is faster and suspension that is tauter.

    Speaking of which, the X3 also gets adaptive dampers for the suspension that can be altered depending on the drive mode. In ‘Sport’, they firm up, offering good body control and composed cornering, but as the road conditions deteriorate, you can select ‘Comfort’, which makes it a bit cushier and adept over bumps. However, the suspension is inherently firm, and while the dampers offer some flexibility, it still isn't as comfy as the Audi Q5 or the Mercedes-Benz GLC.

    Also, with 20-inch wheels, the ride is unapologetically stiff. The low-profile tyres, along with the firm suspension mean that over the bumps at city speeds, you will rattle about in the car. Here is where the standard 19-inch wheels will be significantly better thanks to the taller tyre sidewall. However, the grip from the rear-biased xDrive system, and the sporty nature of the X3 make for an impressive driving experience, something you would expect of a BMW. Also, in its M-sport guise, the X3 also gets launch control, and while it may be a bit of a gimmick on a luxury SUV, it offers a bit more fun, and a sense of humor that no other SUV in its class has.

    BMW X3 facelift: verdict

    While the superb driving dynamics were the biggest draw on the older X3, this modernised update has given it a lot more cred and appeal. It looks sharp, gets useful tech and features on the inside, and while the ride quality is a bit firm, it helps the X3 retain the famous BMW driving prowess. Also, the standard 19-inch wheels ought to soften the blow, and help it from being a complete deal-breaker.

    The build quality is superb, the engine has enough poke, and with prices ranging between Rs 59.90 lakh-65.90 lakh, it is competitive as well. For those who spend more time behind the wheel than in the back seat, want an SUV that drives well, but also want all the modern luxury features, the facelifted X3 is just about perfect.

    Also see:

    BMW X3 facelift launched at Rs 59.90 lakh

    Tech Specs

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    vivek gopinathan - 832 days ago

    Good read. Nice post Jay.

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