By David Colman
For: Handling Acumen, Spacious Cockpit, Huge Silent Sunroof
Against: Jerky Throttle Tip-in
The North Main exit from Southbound I-680 in Walnut Creek is a prodigious feat of engineering. It’s a perfectly banked, 2 lane wide off ramp that reverses direction 180 degrees, lasts nearly a quarter of a mile, and tests handling like no other piece of road in the Bay Area. Late one night, in light traffic, I tossed BMW’s turbocharged, all-wheel-drive X3 into the endless North Main sweeper, not expecting a whole lot of grip from either the top heavy SUV, or its all-season Goodyear tires.
Entering the turn, I could see a pair of single headlights closing rapidly in my mirror. But by the time I reached North Main, there was no one in sight behind me. The X3 had danced through the sweeper with agility equal to BMW’s best sports sedan, the M3. While stopped at the next traffic light on North Main, those lights that vanished on the off ramp reappeared next to me. The driver of a Porsche Boxster Spyder was looking at my X3 with open-mouthed astonishment. His face said it all: how could your clunky-looking SUV put my precious Porsche to shame? And worse yet, do so in a never-ending corner of all places!