The mid-range SUV market is one of the largest in Australia right now with their popularity fueled by their ability to handle a wide range of applications. With such fierce competition, manufacturers have to pack as many features into their cars as possible or risk falling behind. And they have to do this without an increase to the price. This is the ethos behind the new 2018 BMW X3, and with a slew of features trickling down from higher-end models, it offers a very intriguing package.
The X3’s new sophisticated look was created by Australian designer Calvin Luk, and we’re impressed with how well he’s modernised the X3 design. This is the largest X3 yet, and on par with the original X5. But the bold contours and chrome accents, give the impression that the X3 has been slimmed down from its last iteration. The updated design is completed by LED lighting for the front and rear headlights, 19” alloys, an enlarged signature BMW kidney grill on the front, and the neatly tucked away roof rack that blends in seamlessly with the rest of the car.
In a car adorned with the BMW badge that costs $87,350 AUD, we were expecting to find a premium interior; and we weren’t disappointed. The seats are upholstered in a smooth, soft dark tan leather, with light brown stitching to match. The steering wheel is wrapped in a soft, yet grippy, black leather finish that’s comfortable to hold and won’t get hot or slippery from sweat. The interiors motif is tied together by silver aluminium panelling, LCD speedometers, large and easy to navigate controls, all capped off with a panoramic sunroof. The driver’s seat has four points of adjustability that will still leave ample room for your legs and head as well as the passengers behind you. The cabin is ultra quiet too. While driving around the city the engine was pretty quiet, only getting loud when we accelerated, while the outside noise was considerably reduced.
Though there has been an increase in the space for the passengers, this hasn’t come through a reduction to the boot space. The BMW X3 can hold an impressive 550 litres with the rear seats in place, but if you fold those down this increases to 1600 litres, more than enough to cope with whatever cargo you’re transporting.
At its core, the 2018 BMW X3 is an easy and comfortable car to drive with enough power on tap for any real-world situation we found ourselves in. Our model was the xDrive20D fitted with the M Sport package, and it had no trouble getting off the mark thanks to the 140kW of power and 400Nm of torque inside the 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine. The eight-speed auto transmission cycles through the gears with a smooth efficiency resulting in little to no turbo lag when we accelerated at high speeds; though at lower speeds we could feel it a bit more.
The X3 has a variety of drive modes included: Sports, Sports+, Eco, Comfort and Adaptive. Most of the time we were cruising around the City and spent the majority of our time in Comfort mode, which leaves the acceleration tuning at its default levels while increasing the suspensions dampening. However, when afforded the opportunity on longer stretches of road, there is plenty of fun to be had in Sports mode, which will tune the acceleration to its peak and tighten the suspension. In moments like these the X3 can feel more like a sedan than an SUV.
Tech and Safety
Paired with the luxury interior are an impressive set of tech and safety features. The 10.5” touchscreen infotainment system is one of the easiest and most intuitive to use, and it also features a wireless charging pad for compatible phones. We would love Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to be included as standard, but at least they can be purchased as an optional upgrade.
Most impressive are the safety features that use the X3’s exterior camera array to create accurate maps of your surroundings in real time that assist you with parking, lane control and braking. When using the parking system, the X3 creates a 3D representation of the vehicle that can be viewed from several angles around the car as well as a third-person view. It’s very impressive and feels like you’re watching yourself park a car in Grand Theft Auto. It’s also incredibly useful in ensuring that you park safely and keep the exterior protected from scuffs, especially in tight situations as the vehicle’s large size makes it hard to see your surroundings.
The X3 also features a Heads Up Display that projects onto the glass just above the steering wheel. It allows you to view the speed limit and how fast you’re travelling side-by-side with navigation prompts (if you have them turned on). Once you’ve used it, it’s hard to go back to not having it and you’ll notice how much time you spend looking down instead of at the road.
We’ve tested many cars with assisted driving but with each time we try a different brand’s approach, it’s a daunting experience. However, BMW’s adaptive cruise control worked as well as we’d hoped. The sensors on the X3 would constantly scan the movements of the vehicles ahead and when it did sense a sudden change in the traffic ahead, would prep the brakes so they were ready if we needed to make a quick stop. The sensors also detect your position within your lane and will gently correct course if you begin to stray. Thankfully neither of these features felt intrusive and we probably wouldn’t have noticed them if we hadn’t already known they were there.
2018 BMW X3 | The Wrap Up
Right now, nearly one in every two BMWs sold is an X model. They clearly know what they’re doing in the increasingly cramped mid-range SUV market, and the new 2018 BMW X3 offers an attractive package that stands out from the rest of the pack. After driving one for a few weeks, we predict that trend will continue.Find Out More: BMW