Xpectations Xceeded Xceptionally | BMW X3 xDrive35i

BY Joel Tam

More handsome than its predecessor (they couldn't do worse). Packed with a three litre TwinPower turbo charged motor pushing 306 bhp and 400 Nm of torque. What's not to like?

Photos: Joel Tam

I must admit that I approached this car with some apprehension. For starters, I never liked the old X3. Not one teeny weeny bit. It was to me, the Bavarian manufacturer's most hideous looking car. The design details were in the wrong places, and the overall profile was ungainly. BMW didn't sell many, and it was no surprise.

This all-new model however, is vastly different. It is almost as if they had realised the big mistake made with the old one, that they had to apologise for their 'boo-boo' by compensating with the new one. Which is no bad thing! Because quite frankly, I really like the new X3!

On the outside, the car is clearly more dashing than the model it has replaced. Large kidney grilles give an X5-like appearance, while the fog lamps have been raised, just in case you decide to submerge the car two feet underwater. Looking at our recent 'excessive water' issues, that might just happen.

Even the rear profile is sleek with flowing lines that extend from the rear lamps to the front fender, cutting a rather brawny and handsome overall form that speak of both lifestyle and purposefulness.

The well appointed interior is comfortable and spacious. You sit high (as you would in most SUVs), and the visibility is very good all round. The large windscreen and low windows play a part in this airy feeling you get when you're piloting the car. One thing I dislike about BMWs though, is their plain and spartan interior design. While Audis tend to be too fussy, BMWs are at the other end of the spectrum, and the new X3 is no different.

The command center controls nearly every electronic function in the car. With time, it'll be easy to use, but if the X3 you're driving is not yours, best to leave this knob untouched. That said, it took me approximately 15 minutes to get the hang of navigating through the menu, which then revealed a wealth of information that had been stored in this bank.

Even the owner's manual can be called out from this repository of information.

Three suspension settings are available for the X3, Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus. Switching to Sport mode sharpens the throttle response and causes the active suspension system to tighten up. If you like driving (like I do), leave it there, because this new suspension will sense data to dynamically adjust actuators in the suspension, enabling it to adapt to your driving style and road conditions. This ensures adequate grip even when you're driving with a heavy foot.

Paddle shifters behind the wheel allow you easy access to the eight speed gearbox that facilitates the drive of this powerful SUV. You will never really use all eight gears manually, but in auto-mode, this will result in better fuel economy.

I admit, I've always liked cars with sunroofs, so this large skylight was a nice touch. Much loved by my three kids too!

Aggressive 18" sports rims wrapped in grippy Pirellis are good to look at, but should have been specced in 19" at least to fill the huge wheel arches.

Twin chrome tail pipes, a fitting detail for this sporty SUV.

Finally, an SUV worthy to bear this name.

I've saved the best for the last. The icing on the cake has to be the 306 bhp twin scroll turbo charged unit found in this car. With as much torque as an Evolution IX, this SUV will do 0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds! There is very little lag too, and the shove you experience when accelerating past other lesser cars will keep you gunning for more. If that doesn't, the creamy exhaust note that the six-cylinder power plant produces will!

In summary, the new X3 has pretty much everything the urban adventurer will need. It's got the class, the features and the power to get you to the top. In this urban jungle we call Singapore, the X3 is truly a choice way of getting around. Get it in white and opt for the 19" wheels. You won't go wrong.