For a volume-seller, when it was launched in 2004, the BMW X3 probably got off to the worst start for a Bavarian model in the last 50 years. Almost every automotive magazine editor complained about the car in one way or another. First, being just slightly smaller than the first generation X5, people were expecting the same range of options that were on its larger brother. They didn't get them. The X3 didn't even have “Angel Eyes” daytime running lights, which is a real turn-off if you're a BMW fan.
The rather small option list wasn't the only thing that bugged people about it. Most of them complained about not being able to classify the X3. It wasn't a sporty and luxurious SUV (OK, OK, SAV) like the X5, but it wasn't a jacked-up 3 Series Touring with all-wheel-drive either, even though most of the mechanicals of the X3 are shared with the E46 3 Series. OK, so it wasn't very good in off-road territory but it didn't excel on the road either. Some people called it one of the ugliest BMWs ever (and were probably right if you ask some of us) so as a first wrap-up we could all say that BMW didn't played its cards right with the X3.
Well, time proved almost every automotive journalist wrong and the X3 even began outselling much cheaper compact SUVs such as the Toyota RAV4, with over 100.000 units sold each year. X3's success convinced even arch-rivals from Audi and Mercedes-Benz, who took turns in launching their own competitors in this segment. As time passed, BMW realized it had to keep its small(ish) crossover SUV updated, therefore the Bavarian engineers were put to work for the facelift model. Among the changes suffered in 2007 was the upgraded options list, which now includes the long waited for “Angel Eyes” and a new range of engines. The model we tested is the top-of-the-range 3.0sd, almost fully equipped and also having the Motorsport package.Continue reading