Last post on Apr 15, 2013 at 1:30 PM
You are in the BMW X3 & X5
What is this discussion about?
BMW X3, SUV
#1879 of 4185 Re: Day 3 X3 Update. . .continued. . .
May 09, 2005 (1:40 pm)
So much of the criticism of the X3 (in early 2004) was centered around two areas: it's cheap looking interior and its rough-riding suspension. In May of 2004 BMW recalibrated the suspension; and, make no mistake about it, the Sport Package is quite firm -- but rarely, if ever, harsh even on some of Cincinnati's most pock marked secondary roads. Some of the stiffness of the sport suspension is mitigated by the excellent sport seats which have very supportive side bolsters and extendible seat cushions. Note: The Cold Weather Package equipped BMW seats have heaters in the backs and bottoms of the seat -- my Audis only heat the bums. Backrest heat feels quite nice even on a cool May evening in SW Ohio. Nice touch.
The cheap looking interior is, of course, subjective. I will agree BMW interiors can still learn a lesson in "how its done" from Audi -- but the leather sport seats in Terracotta and the contrast that is evident with a black exterior do not look cheap to my eye (I would imagine this contrast would also work with a white exterior too -- if it had the full body color wheel arches and bumpers, of course). But again, the BMW's interior (any BMW's interior), when compared to an Audi interior, is, shall we say somewhat more stark. The quality of the plastics, fabric and leathers inside the X3 do not appear to be anything less than high -- however, BMW seems to be bent on putting forth a more minimalist look than Audi or Lexus, for example.
Now onto the driving. At this moment, with over 400 miles on the new X3 it could be said that we need more time with it to provide you with an adequate impression. Yet, I dare say 400 miles is far more than most people will ever test drive a car, so we are several steps ahead of that benchmark. The short driving summary is that it drives very much like a car -- it drives like an Audi A4 or perhaps more closely like my slightly modified allroad (I replaced the factory sway bars with 20% stiffer swaybars, lowered the air suspension 15mm (compressing the springs) and plus sized the tires from 225 x 55 x 17 all seasons to 245 x 45 x 18 ultra high performance rubber) only slightly more nimble and with more precise turn-in and less body roll in sharp turns at hurried speeds.
In terms of power, the X3 3.0 (225HP) is very slightly under-powered, hence your need to fully test it with both the automatic AND the manual. With the manual transmission, the X3 is probably quicker than the vast majority of cars on the road -- but don't be counting on sub seven second runs to 60. Be happy with the possibility of being able to make such a run in 7 seconds (although it "feels" quicker). Being used to turbo charged Audis, the BMW does not, can not, have the same urge -- but it does easily surpass the Audi turbo engines in a key area: smoothness. There are two engines that always take my breath away in terms of their smoothness of their operation and the sweetness of their sounds -- BMW's 3.0 and Audis 4.2. This BMW 6 cylinder is "the benchmark" 6 as Audi's 4.2 is the benchmark V8. The best way to describe the BMW powerplant is to say "turbine smooth."
We are in break-in mode until 1,200 miles, so we have been trying not to run the engine over 4,500 RPM -- peak torque comes on at 3,500 RPM so the 4,500 restriction hasn't been all that difficult to comply with.
I understand that the upcoming X3 3.0 will come with the upgraded to 255HP 3.0 engine now arriving in the new 3 and 5 series sedans. Perhaps if the X also comes with a 6 speed manual or 6 speed Steptronic, the choice for the "shiftless" will be easier to make.
My completely biased point-of-view then is don't even consider the current X3 with the 2.5 engine and an automatic transmission; and, frankly the 3.0 also requires the manual transmission to keep the sporty BMW feel that most folks hanker for. If you must have the current 3.0 version with Steptronic and you want the BMW feel you will almost certainly have to use the transmission in manu-matic mode or, better yet, wait and get the new 3.0 with its higher output. If, however, you can see yourself shifting for a living, the current 3.0 so coupled will still render that BMW sports-sedan feel (at least with the Sport Package it will.)
We love this car.
I can't imagine taking if off road, though.
Party on Wayne. . . .
Party on Garth. . . .
#1880 of 4185 Re: Day 3 X3 Update. . .continued. . . [markcincinnati]
May 10, 2005 (6:33 am)
Mark, That was an excellent overview. I am sold. I can wait for the upgraded engine since my current lease isn't up yet but I know now what configuration to get. Party time... Excellent.
#1881 of 4185 Re: Day 3 X3 Update. . .or. . . [markcincinnati]
May 10, 2005 (11:23 am)
Mark, few things..
1. Loved your review, made me wanna go back and trade my 04 x3 3.0 in for a new one with all the bells and whistles.
2. What do you do for a living, must be a writer cause your writing skills are top notch.. Your review had me on the edge of my seat..
My experience after 8k miles on an 04 x3, 3.0 (premium package with automatic, xenon) is that yes the sound system is greatly lacking, yes the interior is minimalist - but efficient, gas mileage for me (mixed) is around 19.5, but I LOVE THE FEEL OF DRIVING THIS CAR, and the brakes, are amazing.
I have friends who all have the RX330, yes it's got shinier interior and more "wood" paneling, but it drives like a sedan, not even a sporty car.
Keep us posted with your thoughts.
May 11, 2005 (10:39 am)
I configured a new X3 3.0 to exceed $50,000 on the BMWUSA website. Then I went to finance it for 36 months, 15,000 miles per year and assumed a $2,500 cap cost reduction (discount by any other name).
Lease price came to $572 or $576, I can't remember. I had put in my state (Ohio) so I assume the lease config included tax (that's the way it is done in Ohio these days, tax up front).
My wife's $46,000MSRP car (similar deal) was $581. We are not unhappy. We are not complaining. Thus is life.
The point is, there must be some mighty fine deals on X3's right now -- and with a 7 week lead time required to order one custom built, well I would not even hesitate to order one if I wanted an X3.
The X3 in our garage approaches 500 miles and is exactly 7 days old. The handling has improved -- it has gone from very good to excellent. Perhaps this is due to the tires finally getting enough wear on them to lose that new tire slickness that almost all tires have. Moreover, perhaps some "settling" of the springs, struts, whatever else that flexes has taken place and now the car both rides and handles better.
For the first few days of ownership, if we took some curves that are marked 15MHP at 45MPH, the X3 would take them with ease, but -- on dry pavement -- the DCS (ESP by another name) would come on for just a brief instant right before the apex of the curve (cutting the power and chattering the brakes in an effort to prevent our attempts to break the laws of physics). Now the DSC does not come on, I assume this is due to the "roughing" of the tires' footprint.
The X3 handles like a sports sedan -- probably like a BMW 3 series. With nothing other than Audis to compare it to, I once again say without meaning to damn with faint praise, that the X3 handles like an Audi A4 -- which is to say "excellent" -- hence the phrase "Party on Wayne."
Please remember, we have the 18" wheel tire package that comes with the Sport package -- we do not have the wheel & tire upgrade alone. The sport package comes with all season tires -- probably another reason for the need for the tires to "season" somewhat for a few hundred miles, as all season rubber tends to be somewhat less soft than summer tire rubber.
With the sport set up AND a substitution of summer UHP tires on 18" wheels, I can only imagine this thing would "corner like it was on rails" (Pretty Woman).
#1883 of 4185 Re: Handling and deals [markcincinnati]
by kyfdx HOST
May 11, 2005 (10:46 am)
I'd bet it did not include tax... The lease numbers are the same this month.. as they have been since 2/16/05...
The DSC not coming on now may be due to the tires, but more likely, due to your increasing familiarity with the car... (hitting the apexes better).
Sounds great... I'm jealous..
#1884 of 4185 Re: Handling and deals [kyfdx]
May 11, 2005 (11:23 am)
Well if your assumption about tax is correct, I don't feel so bad (7% of $570+ is a big number (~$40) and our $581 payment INCLUDES tax.)
I can't say with certainty because I don't remember ever configuring one to over $50K -- and since I can't remember and I can't prove the conclusions I came to are correct, I can add that the deals that are in the newspapers on the X3 seem (fading memory) to be more attractive now than in March (when we ordered ours).
If you know the deals are unchanged since 2/2005, well, then I feel a little bit less enthusiastic about our deal (if the website sum includes tax, that is.)
You see, I thought I had gone through this process of pricing, configuring, etc, IN ADVANCE of my wife's selection of her X3 (basically I configured the options, she picked the "look").
I have no reason to disbelieve that the deals haven't changed -- yet my memory tells me that this deal is better than the deals that were avail in the third week of March.
I stand corrected, darn.
#1885 of 4185 Re: Handling and deals [markcincinnati]
May 11, 2005 (5:54 pm)
I test drove an X3 twice. Both times auto with the 3L engine. I would not drive a manual in my neck of the woods.
The second time I drove it, was right after a heavy snow. There was an empty unplowed parking lot that I asked the sales person, if he wouldn't mind if I took the X3 in to have some fun. Short story, he said have fun. Well I flogged the thing in the snow and both my wife and I were impressed with the handling. My RWD 3er wouldn't have done half as well. I liked the ride, it had the same exacting ride as my 3er on asphalt. So my impressions about the drive are the same as yours.
Bottom line, BMW did okay with this vehicle. Have fun with yours.
May 11, 2005 (7:45 pm)
I have just come from a drive from the country to downtown, around town, on the Interstate and back to the country. I personally drove the car about 50 miles, this evening.
I need to update, slightly, some of the impressions I have and have written about here on edmunds.
After driving my wife's 2003 TT (which has 18" 225 x 40 UHP summer rubber) for three days -- I have a new appreciation for the words "bone jarring."
Now the TT is stiff AND can be harsh, firm on smooth roads even.
I literally got out of the TT and behind the wheel of the X3, I had not been in the X3 for a full 24 hours. The X3 was downright "cushy" by comparison.
I drove on some curvy secondary roads and entered the Interstate surrounding Cincinnati (I-275) heading toward downtown.
Smooth, comfy, I thought.
I came to downtown, some heavy road construction was underway, steel plates covered large trenches in the ground -- whack, thump, bump. The ride for a few dozen feet was very bumpy -- nothing sounded like it was breaking or bending, but the X3 IS not a car built to disguise or absorb the road. Rather it telegraphs the surface, bumps, holes and steel plates with fidelity.
I understand the criticism that the X3 is harsh -- I do not agree with that word, but I must tell you that the X3 is firm, stiff and absolutely tight. Yet, it is smoother, by far, more compliant even, than the TT (which must pretty much qualify as a sporty car if not an outright sports car). I was loaned a Boxster for a long weekend while my car was in for service and it too was a rough rider.
I do not have the sophisticated bum of a car journalist, so perhaps they know something I don't -- but firm and stiff while related to harsh and rough are NOT the same thing.
I have decided to advise you that the X3 is an SAV or SUV, whatever. But, I believe the X3 although it may be the stiffest BMW out there should not be labled as harsh or rough, but I should caution you that the X3 seeks to be the best handling "SAV" it can be and its designers and engineers have elected to err on the side of apparent chassis rigidity and suspension firmness to accomplish this goal.
Again, after the TT, this thing is like ridin' on a cloud -- perhaps, however, if you are looking for a luxury car ride, be duly advised the X3 is meant for "sport" more than lux. If some $40K plus into a car sets your expectations for smooooooth and soft, this little dude will NOT oblige.
We still love it, however.
You may too.
#1887 of 4185 Re: Update coming. . . [markcincinnati]
May 12, 2005 (5:21 am)
thanks for the impressions - really enjoy reading your updates.
what kind of city & highway mileage are you getting w. the X3? are you using premium gas?
#1888 of 4185 Re: Update coming. . . [haakon]
May 12, 2005 (7:42 am)
At this point, I don't know and yes we are using Premium Juice! 93 octane Marathon gas, thus far (we filled up last night, but the tank was only about half empty.)
The average milage readout said 18.4 I think.
I do not know, I repeat, however, since I don't know if the on board unit is to be trusted and I seriously doubt if my wife reset the trip computer, so this would be a specious reading IMHO.