Contrary to what you would expect, the X3 3.0sd is a pretty good long journey partner. Highspeed highway bursts of sheer torque can open the mouths of the casual passenger... and keep them that way from 2000 to close to 5000 rpm (if you keep the six-speed automatic in Sport mode), which you have to admit is a rather high number for an oil burner. The noise insulation is adequate although you might want to watch the weight of your right foot, so as to keep the wind-induced decibels out. The X3 has a drag coefficient of 0.35, which is more than good, but it still has a non-aerodynamic hatchback profile, which is bound to directly act on your ear's comfort at high speeds.
The worst thing about the 580Nm (427.8 lb-ft) is (yes, there's also a downside at having too much torque) the fact that it makes the car drive a bit different than others. For example, in a “regular” car, when trying to pass someone you usually do this: check your mirrors, take a good look in the front for upcoming vehicles your way, choose a lower gear, press the accelerator harder and THEN turn the steering wheel slightly to the left to start passing. Well, in a high torque car like the X3 3.0sd, this pretty much means you're not going to finish the pass since you just hit the vehicle in front of you.
In different words, if you're going to “kick it” before you turn the steering wheel in the right direction (even at high cruising speeds), the sheer amount of blistering torque will prove too much to handle, so you better prepare your steering reactions a little different. The 6.4 seconds required from naught to 100 km/h (62 mph) and the 240 km/h (149 mph) are good enough proof of the X3 3.0sd's capabilities on any stretch of road. The (really) thick M-package steering wheel can give your recurring dreams about driving a real sports car and is a good provider of road input. The car's stability is also very car-like, and even though you sit about 20 centimeters higher than in a regular car, the high center of gravity is not that obvious when rapidly switching the direction of moving.
Almost any misinterpretation on your part of the speed you're about to have in a curve is countered by the intelligent xDrive system first and (in rare occasions) by the standard Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). Don't worry, we haven't forgotten the fact that the X3 is still a crossover/SUV and not a highway cruiser, so here are some details about its off-road capabilities. Contrary to most people's opinion, the X3 is not THAT bad in hard terrain. Sure, it ain't not G-Klasse but it can hold its own on gravel, mud or your regular mountain camping areas.
It might not look like it, but it has a ground clearance of a little over 20 centimeters (8 inches), an approach agle of 25.1, departure angle of 23.6 and a break over angle of 19 degrees, while the wading depth is 50 centimeters. For the a regular off-roader this is of course nothing, but from the new wave of car-based crossovers this is among the best. The xDrive system is one of the most intelligent features about the X3, since it works by ensuring that power is delivered exactly where needed, even before the driver realizes it, changing the behavior of the car in real-time.
Hold on, Mary would like to say something...
Leaving away my contagious enthusiasm for Deutshen Wagen and all things made in the Bundesrepublik Deutschland, the BMW X3 looks like a German noodles salad with almost all ingredients included. Some oil for reserve might be needed as it seems this condiment evaporates before you actually start feeling the taste of the delicious meal. However, those who favor pepper in their lives will discover it in the X3's large variety.
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