Made in SA X3 Looks the Part, Delivers a Fine All-Round Package

Munich has rung the changes to its made in SA X3 for 2022. Clearly with the likes of a new Mercedes-Benz GLC and facelifted Audi Q5 and Porsche Macan on the horizon, the white coats in Bavaria could not resist. Changes are subtle. Or as BMW calls them, ‘meaningful enhancements’.

Bolder, Sharper X3 Looks Good in the Flesh

Taking a first look, the first thing you will notice is that the Bavarians have failed to resist their fetish of making those kidney grilles ever bigger than before. Albeit this one’s growth is subtle. And it certainly looks far better in the flesh. Than both its predecessor and the press pictures. Blame BMW customers for that — they allegedly complained about the insignificance of the previous kidney. Not sure who those owners are, but anyway!

That bolder, sharper grille comes in tandem with narrower, more slanted headlamps. They tell us that the bumper vents now conform to a ‘pincer claw contour’. The taillights have not escaped the München scalpel either. They say that they’re now ‘more aggressive’, while grander exhaust tips ‘to convey more presence’. Are the styling tricks a step forward? Or just sidewayst? That’s for you to decide!

Step inside to settle into sports seats. A high-resolution 12.3-inch instrument cluster keeps you posted, 3-zone automatic climate control, cool. X3 now adopts the 4 Series’ centre console and a diagonal 12.3 inch central infotainment screen. It also now gets remote software upgradable Touch Control iDrive with CarPlay and Auto mirroring and new generation navigation maps. Driving Assistant Professional includes Active Cruise Control Parking Assistant Plus and there’s an Intelligent Personal Assistant for ‘an even more intensive bond between driver and car’.

Powered by BMW’s Lusty 2-litre Turbodiesel

Anyway, this fine BMW X3 xDrive 2.0d now enters its second phase since it started to be built right here in sunny South Africa. Powered by BMW’s lusty 2-litre turbodiesel, it churns out a meaty 140 kW at 4000rpm and 400 Nm at 1750rpm with a usable 4300rpm. Mated to BMW’s regular ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic fine-tuned to perfectly match that broad output to your immediate driving situation, it transfers torque to BMW’s constantly variable xDrive all-wheel drive. we tested it to 100 Km/h in the mid-8s. See below for all the crucial data

That xDrive shares said output ideally out between all four wheels for both ideal road holding and handling and when required, off-road prowess. Talking of which, this mild off-road Sports Activity machine comes with 205 mm road clearance, a 500 mm fording ability and respective 25.0 and 22.6-degree approach and departure angles. And it’s economical too – we had no trouble in matching BMW’s quite frugal consumption claims.

Being a BMW, it’s no surprise that its tarmac road holding and handling are high-points. Positive steering feel and firm, but pleasant ride conspire to deliver the expected sheer driving pleasure. Driver assist and lane control make X3 safe as houses too, if you want it. It’s all simple to override, shopuld you find that the nannies interfere too much. Our X3 came stacked with all the latest gizmos from an auto tailgate, cool alloy wheels and improved and updated materials. Some of it standard, other you can tick those boxes and pay extra for.

X3 An ideal Buy-Down From a Full Size SUV

We’re not really sure about the looks, although thank goodness, this one lacks the chromium grid they used to braai the last eland, that somehow found its way onto big brother X7’s unfortunate nose. But X3 does quite look the part. It’s an exceptional all-round package that’s also relatively reasonably priced. Which makes it an ideal as a buy-down, should you become scared witless by those latest full-sized SUV prices. — Michele Lupini.

Images & testing: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TEST: BMW X3 2.0d xDrive
Engine: 140kW 400Nm 2-litre turbodiesel I4
Drive: 8-speed auto AWD
0-60 km/h         3.73 sec
0-100 km/h:       8.61 sec
0-160 km/h        22.36 sec
400m:             16.1 sec @ 139km/h
80-120 km/h:      6.20 sec
120-160 km/h:     10.31 sec
VMax:             213 km/h
Fuel:             5.6 l/100km
CO2:              147 g/km
Warranty/Service: 5y 100K/2y unl
LIST PRICE        R1.037M
RATED             8
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