2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d: Review

The X3 gets a new 2.0-litre diesel engine, refreshed interior and smart exterior styling. We take it for a spin to find out if this update works



2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d front action




When BMW gave the X5 the nip and tuck treatment, we were thoroughly impressed with the extent of the update. With that, hopes of the 2014 BMW X3 getting a similar level update rose and as I got to drive this SUV for the first time a couple of days ago, the first thought that came to mind was how very contemporary this update has made the X3. On the face of it, quite literally, is the new styling that we will elaborate in detail ahead but it is the engine update that the X3 gets that aims to make it a worthy buy in the Rs 50-60 lakh SUV space. 


The 2014 BMW X3 is the first car from the Bavarian carmaker to get their latest generation 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel. This unit while in displacement and output is similar to the engine it replaces, it promises better performance, refinement and efficiency. 


The X3 is also a shamelessly road-biased SUV. Which means it doesn’t just compete with the likes of the Audi Q5 but also the set of sedans in its price band. It has to deliver equally on luxury and driving dynamics to make its case as a result. Let’s find out if it does. 




2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d front static




Exterior styling

I’ve not been a fan of the X3’s styling in the past. It was just too plain-jane for an SUV of its class and price. With this facelift, the first thing I’ve noticed is it turns a few heads at least. Credit goes to the X5 like treatment the front end receives. The headlights are more angular and extend into the slightly larger front grille, that’s chromed just right for the Indian car buyer to take notice. The new sculpted bonnet beautifully wings out of the BMW perched at the tip and the redesigned bumper looks more purposeful as well. 



2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d front detail




In profile, there not much that’s changed. The wing mirror design is new and the alloy wheels are new. The xLine spec variant we drove comes with wider 245 section tyres on 18 inch wheels compared to 225/60 R17 wheels specified on the base Expedition trim. The rear gets an even smaller update, just the bumper with re-profiling.   


Rating: 4/5



2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d interior




Interior and Space

BMW has induced some life into the new X3’s cabin without changing too much of it. High gloss black panels on the dashboard give it a more premium feel as do the splashes of chrome around the cabin. The new gear lever as on current gen BMWs make it to the X3 too. Controls of the music system have changed as well. Bits like the black lever on the glove box looks like an oversight that should have been fixed with the update. 



2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d rear seat space




Front seats are comfortable and have fantastic lumbar support. The driver’s seat gets memory function as well. The rear seat is a bit low on under-thigh support which will be an issue for tall passengers. These seats flip and fold to give a flexible cabin that can increase the luggage capacity from 550 litres to 1,600 litres.


Rating: 4/5




2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d panoramic sunroof




Features and Equipment

The 2014 BMW X3 as we’ve mentioned earlier is available in two trims – Expedition and xLine. We’ve been driving the fully kitted xLine variant. The xLine X3 comes with its specific exterior and interior pack that involves chrome, aluminium, stainless steel and other embellishments. The xLine also gets a rear arm rest and extra cupholders, netted storage spaces and a panoramic sunroof over the Expedition variant.


The x-line crucially gets dynamic damper control, a Sports+ mode that puts you completely in charge of the X3’s stability by turning the dynamic stability control off and independent braking for each wheel. If there’s two features we missed, it would be the reversing camera, something you get even in the premium hatchback segment now in India and the heads up display which makes scrolling through your playlist easier while driving.


Rating: 4.5/5



2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d front action




Ride and ease of driving

BMW built the first generation X3 a decade ago solely with the purpose of merging two worlds – the space, ride and command of an SUV with the driving dynamics of a sporty sedan. This second generation X3 just does this so well that it’s hard to find a reason to buy any other car at this price if ride, handling and driving convenience is all you seek. It’s just faultless, especially the xLine variant with its dynamic dampers. It gives such a cosseting ride over all kinds of surfaces, and it gets more evident as speeds increase. Expansion joints and undulations are flattened out by these dampers and the 55 profile tyres are just right for our road conditions. We assume the X3 30d that’s due in a few months will get lower profile tyres that could give it a harsher ride for better dynamics. For the 20d these Pirelli tyres are perfect. 


The X3 is also the right size, not as compact as the X1 and not too large as X5, especially for Indian driving conditions. Maneuverability is easy and at crawling speeds in congested lanes, the parking sensors do a good job of keeping your bumpers scratches free. 


Rating: 5/5




2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d rear action




Engine and Performance

The 2.0-litre twin-turbo engine under the hood is going to be BMW’s mainstay for at least the next 5-7 years. In the coming months everything from sedans to SUVs in the BMW line-up will receive this engine update so it’s important that this new oil burner is a marked improvement over the engine it replaces. First impression is a quieter motor at idle and cruising speeds. There is a bit of diesel clatter sure but nothing too harsh. It belts out a bit more power than the engine it replaces – 193PS/400Nm, that’s about 6PS more power and 20Nm extra torque. The 2014 X3 is now faster to the ton from standstill by 0.4 seconds as it does the sprint in 8.1 seconds. Top speed is limited at 210kmph that’s very easily attainable on an empty stretch as the fantastic damper control system stiffens up just right to give you the confidence to hold high speeds with ease. The engine never feels strained although it isn’t any kind of a belter if that’s what you are looking for. Acceleration is smooth and linear though.



2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d 2.0-litre diesel engine




If you want a bit of time warping then we suggest you wait for the 3.0-litre straight six diesel that’s due soon. It’s the same quick unit from the X5 delivering 262PS/560Nm of power and torque but in the lighter and smaller X3, it promises to be at a whole different level. 


Rating: 4/5




2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d powersliding on gravel




Handling and braking

The X3 is a hoot up a winding road, predictable, fun and always in control. Credit goes to the perfect 50:50 weight distribution that keeps the front and rear in check and the ESP from kicking in only when pushed beyond the hold of the grippy Pirellis. Dynamic dampers ensure stability at all speeds and the brakes have good bite. The X3 also comes standard with brake energy regeneration. This takes the load off the engine as the battery is charged every time you lift off the gas. It doesn’t require much dependence on the engine and that ensures all the engine’s effort goes into acceleration. 


Rating: 4.5/5



2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d in Eco Pro mode




Price and fuel efficiency

Efficiency of the X3 20d shows the flexibility of the engine. While it delivers the performance when you need it, this engine is very efficient. Slot it in Sports mode and the revs hold with your throttle response, upshifting higher up the rev band and giving you all the power at a slight tap of the accelerator. It’s the least efficient way of driving the X3 but the most fun. In comfort mode throttle response dims a bit but gives you enough grunt for quick passes. Then there’s the miserly Eco Pro mode that dulls throttle responses and upshifts under 2000rpm in lower gears and even lower in the range of 1500rpm in higher gears. There is a perceivable increase in efficiency here. Every time you lift off the throttle at speeds between 50-160kmph, the coasting function of the eight-speed automatic disengages the powertrain. This, BMW says, improves efficiency by 20 percent. The X3 xDrive 20d has a fuel efficiency figure of 18.56kmpl under test conditions. 


The X3 is priced at Rs 44.9 lakh for the X3 20d Expedition variant and Rs 49.9 lakh for this xLine variant. The latter is the one to go for going by the amount of extra kit it offers. The X3 is costlier than the Q5 though by a few lakh rupees. 


Rating: 3.5/5




2014 BMW X3 xDrive 20d rear static





Practicality above all else is the X3’s USP. It’s just that easy to get in one and travel the country on all kinds of roads we have on offer without batting an eyelid. It’s a mile muncher with a punchy and efficient diesel, good driving dynamics and all the equipment you need to keep you company. The X3 looks much better too with this update, something earlier versions lacked a bit. It is a bit pricey though, and that’s a minor dampener in an otherwise fantastic package.


Rating: 4/5


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