This article is the second in a series on long-term test vehicles. The first article on the 2013 BMW X3 28i covers the basic packages purchased with the vehicle, along with initial impressions.
After about a week of driving our long-term Bimmer tester, the 2013 BMW X3 28i M Sport has provided several highs and lows. So, let’s get right to it.
With the optional M Sport Package installed, the flat black plastic cladding around wheel wells and the rear bumper are replaced by matching body color panels. The front bumper also changes in appearance with a more aggressive look. The 19-inch wheels in the M Sport package add even more aggressiveness over the standard 18-inch run flats.
The cost. Three grand is a lot of dough for plastic cladding. Yes, you get other toys included in the package price, but there is no stand-alone aerodynamic kit option at the factory.
New for 2013, the twin-scroll turbo, four-cylinder N20 engine — which has found its way into the 3-Series, 5-Series and Z4 roadster — is much more environmentally conscious than the out-going six-cylinder. It possesses the same amount of horsepower as the six-cylinder, but provides 39-lb feet more of torque (260-lb ft. in all). All together, the engine scoots the wünderwagen from 0-60 MPH in about six seconds during real world testing.
I like the 8-speed automatic transmission the engine is mated to. The driver selectable eco, comfort and sport engine settings allow you to choose how frugal on the gas you’ll be. So far in eco mode, I’ve averaged 23 mpg with 60-percent highway and 40-percent city driving. The EPA claims a rating of 21/24/28 for city, combined and highway, respectively.
Sport mode makes BMW’s “SAV” feel like a completely different vehicle. The RPMs are held longer, shift points more aggressive, and fuel/air mixture more abundant. In all, the wagon becomes a bit of a bully to the tarmac.
The engine sounds like a diesel at idle with a “tick, tick, tick” sound, but that quickly disappears upon acceleration. For some reason, I wish the exhaust note became more pronounced when placed in sport mode.
Speaking of diesels, what’s the holdup on making a diesel option available right now in the United States? I know, I know, it’s coming…
RIDE & HANDLING
The M Sport package doesn’t change the suspension setup from the “base” suspension offered, surprisingly. With the addition of the 19-inch wheels and standard 50/50 weight distribution, the all wheel drive handling of the vehicle at speed is quite impressive. Gone are the body leaning antics experienced in other crossovers, replaced by a planted, near sport sedan-like feel of control. Highway entrance ramps shouldn’t be this much fun to drive in a family hauler.
Steering is precise and not over weighted like in past 1-Series, 3-Series and Z4 cars. It’s light enough for soccer moms, but not too light for the dads who enjoy taking the back roads home from the golf course on a Sunday afternoon.
Most bumps go unnoticed, however the larger ones tend to result in a very audible “thud” sound in the cabin — a bit distracting, but clearly no damage done to the vehicle.
If you’re considering this vehicle for purchase (or any SUV or crossover for that matter), I highly suggest you opt for top-view cameras. The pricey package cost is worth it for this feature alone. Gone are the days of accidently parking your large vehicle over parking space lines, backing over the son’s bike in the driveway, and scraping light pole footers because you didn’t see them.
BMW’s iDrive infotainment system has improved over the years, but it still requires too many twirls, twists and clicks to get to the playlist, address or vehicle setting you desire. I look forward to the next version of iDrive interaction (supposedly, you can use your finger to spell out a destination or search query) coming out in several months.
The amount of space with the rear seats folded down is a best-in-class 63.3-cubic feet. With the seats up, the boot space shrinks to a competitive 27.6-cubic feet. Also, the rear floor lifts up to reveal several shoe boxes worth of storage as there is no need for a spare due to standard run flat tire technology on all BMWs. The subfloor also houses fasteners that can be used in the cargo track system (this is where the accessory cargo net becomes useful).
The newly standard power tailgate is a nice convenience feature, along with the retracting cargo cover and pet net (separates Fido from the back seats so he can’t jump over them and disturb passengers or the driver).
The X3 beats the Acura RDX and Mercedes-Benz GLK, but fellow German manufacturer Audi, with its Q5 crossover bests the Bimmer with slightly more utility space behind the rear seats at 29.1-cubic feet.
Ryan’s passion for automobiles began at age eight when his father brought home the quintessential sports car: A Guards Red, 1974 Porsche 911 Targa. Ever since, his free time has been consumed with following the latest developments of the automotive industry.