I’ll be honest. I haven’t paid much attention to the BMW X3 over the years. Maybe it’s because I always thought if you wanted something for around 65-70 lakhs you get the 530d. Whatever the reasons might be, having driven the X3, I can’t quite figure out why I’ve ignored it because it’s very good. BMW recently sent over a very red X3 in the 30d M Sport spec and here’s why it might just be my new favourite.

The second generation X3 came out in 2010 and the one you see here, the X3 xDrive 30d M Sport (phew!) was launched in India in 2015. In the M Sport spec, it gets slightly different bumpers. Most of the chrome has been done away with keeping in mind the intended sporty nature of this particular trim. Also, there are plenty of M badges all around. First impressions of its styling were a bit mixed. I didn’t quite like the way the nose was styled, but it definitely grew on me.

I, for one, think the rear has been styled better than the front. Especially bits like the split tail lamps and the raked rear glass. Like the front, the rear too gets slightly different bumpers. Unlike other trims of the  X3, the subtle black cladding over the wheel arches is body colour and the silver skid plates have also been done away with. All in all, there are plenty of sporty styling elements all around that do justice to the M Sport badge. In case, like me, you found the styling a bit meh at first glance, give it some time, it will definitely grow on you.

The sportiness continues on inside with an all black cabin. There is some dark wood trim around the gear selector and the dashboard, which seems a bit out of place in this M Sport variant. BMW could have used Alcantara instead like in the 320d M Sport. The X3 offers seating for 4-5 with ample cargo space ensuring high levels of practicality. Admittedly, I did not spend too much time in the backseat for reasons that will be abundantly clear in the subsequent paragraphs, but I have been told the rear bench is reasonably comfortable, even with three abreast. As expected, the general quality levels and fit and finish are high. The display for the iDrive infotainment system isn’t touch sensitive. It is controlled via the rotary knob placed next to the gear selector. It’s not the easiest to use systems I have come across, but it doesn’t require the brains of a tech-savvy teenager either.

The X3 30d comes with BMW’s 3.0 L inline six, which is an absolute gem of an engine. It boasts around 258 horses and 560 torques that propel it to 100 KM/H from a standstill in just 5.9 seconds! A sub 6 second time for a car this size is incredibly impressive. Put your foot down and the X3 surges forward with the kind of urgency not normally associated with SUVs. It gathers speed quickly and effortlessly, as evident from the X3’s 0-100 KM/H time. Power is transferred to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox is quick to respond to inputs, changing up or down right when you want it too. You can always switch to the paddle shifters in case you’re looking for a bit more engagement.

Complementing the stellar performance from the X3’s engine are its ride and handling characteristics. I love the way the X3 just hugs the road, egging you to push harder around each curve. Despite being an SUV, body roll is very well controlled, which just adds to the X3 M Sport’s apex hunting abilities. I was expecting the ride to a bit on the firmer side, but surprisingly, I found it quite comfortable. Even with Sport mode engaged, I was quite happy with the way the car rode over rough patches.

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, there’s Sport+ mode. Apart from stiffening up the suspension further and adding weight to the steering, it also limits the traction control. I have been lucky enough to drive some really impressive machines over the course of my short career as a motoring journalist, but driving the X3 30d has to be one of the most rewarding experiences I have had so far. The fact that BMW can make a nearly 2 tonne SUV so much fun to drive makes you realise why enthusiasts swear by the BMW name when it comes to “Ultimate Driving pleasure”.

My time with the car was limited to just a few days. However, I still managed to spend time with it sitting in maddening rush hour traffic, ferrying people and their luggage from one place to another and also managed to squeeze in a fair amount of expressway runs. And all that helped highlight the BMW X3’s vast spectrum of abilities. It is an absolute hoot to drive. The X3 is brilliant on the road and can handle the occasional off-road excursions as well. It can carry you and your family in reasonable comfort and can swallow 550 litres of their luggage. I am glad I got acquainted with the X3 and I regret having ignored it in the past. Before driving the X3 30d if anyone had asked me what I’d pick for 70 odd lakhs I would’ve pointed towards the BMW 530d in a heartbeat. But now, I am a bit confused.

BMW X3 M Sport Test Drive Review – Specifications

Length x Width x Height 4657 x 1881 x 1678 mm
Wheelbase 2810 mm
Wheel Type and Size 19” Alloys
Boot Space 550 litres
Fuel Tank Capacity 67 litres
Engine Type/ Displacement 3.0 L Six Cylinder Diesel
Power 258 HP @ 4000 RPM
Torque 560 Nm @ 1500-3000 RPM
Top Speed 232 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h) 5.9 seconds
Transmission (Gearbox) 8-speed Automatic
Mileage (estimated) 16.55 KMPL (claimed)

BMW X3 Test Drive Review – Price

Variant Ex-showroom Delhi Price
xDrive 20d Expedition Rs. 48.00 lakh
xDrive 20d xLine Rs. 53.90 lakh
xDrive 28i xLine Rs. 54.90 lakh
xDrive 30d M Sport Rs. 61.00 lakh

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Author- Dhruv Saxena.