The second-generation X3 looks “buffer” than the first-generation, having grown in all three dimensions and adopted some styling cues of its bigger siblings. I parked next to a first-gen X3 at the local Wholefoods, and the older X3 looked more like a Toyota RAV4. The best part about the new X3 is the rear. The piped light taillight units look expensive and remind you of those found on the X5 and the new 5 and 7 series. They look much better than the ones on the original X3.
As you move towards the front, the X3’s design becomes less impressive. The profile is meant to look more dynamic and moving, but there is just too much going on. The crease rising up out of the front wheel well that stretches to the back of the X3 appears out of place and doesn’t make much sense, and the greenhouse profile also has too many kinks and angles in the rear quarter panel. The lines aren’t as clean as those on the original.
Then there’s the headlights. BMW has been impressive and successful with each generation of headlight assemblies; they look more like 3D sculptures than just a couple of light bulbs. Te new X3’s headlight units do have that look to them, but the overall shape of these units just look weird and awkward. They’re not as graceful as the ones on the new X5, not to mention the art-like units on the Audi Q5.
The grill is standard BMW, but the designer added an additional slit right on the front bumper that makes the front end look very busy. It may be an attempt at reducing the perceived thickness of the front end, but this is a SUV, it’s supposed to look tall! Overall I would say the second generation X3 is not a looker in the compact luxury SUV segment. There are quite a few lookers in this space such as the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60, Infiniti EX, Cadillac SRX and the upcoming Range Rover Evoque.
Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
The second gen X3 has an upgraded interior that feels as rich as any other new Bimmer these days. The materials look and feel expensive, and the controls are all well-placed. The heated steering wheel and the Fineline Siena wood trim are good indicators of luxury. The seats are comfortable and supportive, the monroney says Oyster Nevada Leather. Either way the seats are fully adjustable in every way imaginable. Pretty comfortable and firm enough to hold you in place around curves.
I have grown to like the electronic gear shift on these new Bimmers. It doesn’t have the good old feel you get from a mechanical shifter but hey, progress is a bitch, eh? The dial that controls the ConnectedDrive is also fairly easy to learn and use, making navigating the different menu options in the nav and media apps easy and efficient. There are so many options in that multimedia unit that I couldn’t play with every single thing by the time my weekend was up with the X3. It even reads emails out loud to you. Amazing.