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View Full Version : X3 Review in the German/Austrian Alps


tonymey
03-17-2005, 02:05 PM
Took our one month old (1400 miles) X3 3.0 to its motherland Austria this pass weekend and here is my 2 cents on it performance. Note this is with basic suspension and the original all season Bridgestone tires.

The normally 4 ˝ hour ride from my house to the German / Austrian border took 9 hours because of heavy snow storm that day that made traveling on the German Autobahns very dangerous. With the knowledge that we were driving an X3 we marched on. We encounter almost every bad snow condition that day and the X3 did not complaint once.
I did have to stop every 20 minutes or so to take off the snow at the bottom/center of the windshield because the wipers seem to be bending with the snow accumulation there.

Once we hit the windy roads of the Austrian/German Alps this SAV felt like it belonged there, (you wonder why). I was very impress with the way it handle the back roads and getting to the snow packed ski area was not a problem at all. This X3 was on its turf!

On the way back it was clear blue skies and so was the autobahn so it was time to test out its high speed ability. I ran the SAV a constant speed of 100 MPH without any problems. I peaked it at 120 but the wife had me turn it down some.

This X3 is almost perfect if you use it as a SAV, it pretty much will go anywhere you point it in good luxury, but as an autobahn cruiser it sucks.
First of all once you get above 75 mph you need earplugs, at 100 mph it's deafening, at 120 mph it just got scary loud and weird noises coming from the moon roof. (Note: I drive a 740i at 130, 140 mph without any problems). But what really disappointed me was the hard "bronco" ride at these speeds. After a few minutes cruising at 100 mph and your hearing gets numb you feel good driving these speeds until you start to hit some uneven surfaces on the roads. Worst if you are taking slight curves at the time. I must say that at no time did I feel I would lose control of the X3 but I had to bring it down sometimes to get some blood flowing back into my head. I also notice that the auto trans seems to be out of range most of the time, unlike my 740i which always seems to pick the right gear, the X3 seems lost and under power at times.

BMW, why is the X3 so loud, come on guys we know you have the know how and I would have gladly pay extra for more sound insulation, an exhaust that doesn’t get annoying and tires that don’t scream!!! Also what is up with this “bronco” suspension? How about an active one where we can adjust it to the driving needs? Having the Miss take a nap use to be the highlight of my long distant trips now she’s up all the time because of the noise and bouncy bounce. Talk about stress…..

I give X3 high scores for being what it is, an SAV. As an added bonus it even handles the twisty better than most sport cars out there. For those who are looking for true BMW high speed cruising, look else where. I know you guys in other countries can only imagine driving (legally) at 100+ mph but here in the land of the best cars, wurst and bier it is common, legal, and expect in a BMW.

So if you want a SAV to do SAV stuff and do it in BMW style this is your SAV. If you want to hang with the big boys on the autobahn get yourself a 7 series BMW.

I know everyone will say that they won’t be driving the X3 that fast and the wife drives it slow, but then again how many of you really use it for its intended purpose?? SAV…

I like the X3 for what it is and now that I know what it isn’t I‘ll be driving my 740i when the skies are clear and the roads are paved.

jliu34740
03-17-2005, 02:21 PM
I think you just answered your own question. It's designed as an SAV, and behaves like an SAV. For me, it's exactly what I need. Enough cargo space for weekend trips and grocery runs, good handling/power for daily commute, and Xdrive for rain and snow.

If you have a 7 series, you'd be complaining that it doesn't handle well in snow.

iChick
03-17-2005, 02:43 PM
but then again how many of you really use it for its intended purpose?? SAV…


I'd be using it for SAV purposes a lot more than I would for driving 100 mph purposes.... The CHP doesn't look favorably on that sort of thing. :tsk:

Laosk
03-17-2005, 03:00 PM
Thanks for the review tonymey! :thumbup:
You're right, I can only dream of driving legally at those kind of speeds. Must be FUN!
But that isn't what I bought the X3 for. I think it will handle the life of Laosk and Family quite well. And I promise. It will be used as an SAV. We've got a great summer of camping and fishing planned this year and I can't wait! And in the winter....if we ever get any snow here again, it will be right at home zipping me up and down both sides of the Cascades taking me to my 'boarding destination.

Now....if it would just arrive.
:)

b-y
03-17-2005, 04:35 PM
First of all once you get above 75 mph you need earplugs, at 100 mph it's deafening, at 120 mph it just got scary loud and weird noises coming from the moon roof.
:dunno: In January we drove from the SF Bay area to Joshua Tree NP in one day. We routinely cruised at 85 or so, both on I-5 and dessert roads and did not notice the loud noise. Admitedly, we don't hit 100 mph, but if you have excessively load noises at 80-90, I think you should track them down and complain. They are not normal.

rrinker
03-17-2005, 06:14 PM
We just picked up our 3.0 last night, and I hit 80-85 on one stretch of the drive home (it was a demonstrator, so I didn't do that to a green engine), and it was at least as quiet as my E36 328is. Maybe a bit quieter, since with the taller gearing the motor is spinning a lot slower in the X3 at that speed. Now, my 328 has the sport package,and the X3 does not. And naturally all the windows were up and the sunroof closed (still too cool at night to open the sunroof. Plus I have not had ANY car that I've actually enjoyed running at full highway speed with the sunroof open, windows or no. Around town, different story).
So far so good, I'm loving it. We'll see next time I get to drive it (wife is driving it mostly).

--Randy

jliu34740
03-17-2005, 06:53 PM
So far so good, I'm loving it. We'll see next time I get to drive it (wife is driving it mostly).

--Randy

What's up with everyone letting their wifes be the primary drivers of their X3? Do you all have better sports cars that you don't want to drive X3 daily?

iChick
03-17-2005, 08:17 PM
What's up with everyone letting their wifes be the primary drivers of their X3? Do you all have better sports cars that you don't want to drive X3 daily?

LOL! Uh, we need it to haul "groceries" and stuff. ;)

rrinker
03-17-2005, 08:27 PM
What's up with everyone letting their wifes be the primary drivers of their X3? Do you all have better sports cars that you don't want to drive X3 daily?

LETTING? You think I LET her?

She TOLD me. LOL! :cry: :D :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :yikes: :yikes:

Three years ago, we knew this sort of thing would happen. So instead of buying one brand new E46 3er, we bought TWO CPO E36 328's, both coupes. Mine was a 99, hers was a 98. Hers had leather and the full computer, that's about it. Mine had sport and leather, and, being a 99, the M aero and stuff. We also had a 99 Jeep Grand Cherokee that she drove. I traded in my Civic (BIG upgrade!). Next NEW car was going to be hers, no biggie, I LOVED my 328. FF, time to do something with my car (it was an Owner's Choice deal). Her 328 has already been returned. Best thing going right now is the X3 deals, so, here we are. Now only 1 BMW. She wasn't too happy I drove all the way home from the dealership, but I look at it as MAYBE sometime in the next week or so I will get to drive it again. Meanwhile I'm stuck with the Jeep. Luckily, I don't have to drive much - I work mostly from home.

--Randy

adc
03-18-2005, 01:00 PM
What's up with everyone letting their wifes be the primary drivers of their X3? Do you all have better sports cars that you don't want to drive X3 daily?

Yes. :bigpimp:

adc
03 330 ZHP

SabreXray
05-09-2005, 02:57 PM
Took our one month old (1400 miles) X3 3.0 to its motherland Austria this pass weekend and here is my 2 cents on it performance. Note this is with basic suspension and the original all season Bridgestone tires.

The normally 4 ˝ hour ride from my house to the German / Austrian border took 9 hours because of heavy snow storm that day that made traveling on the German Autobahns very dangerous. With the knowledge that we were driving an X3 we marched on. We encounter almost every bad snow condition that day and the X3 did not complaint once.
I did have to stop every 20 minutes or so to take off the snow at the bottom/center of the windshield because the wipers seem to be bending with the snow accumulation there.

Once we hit the windy roads of the Austrian/German Alps this SAV felt like it belonged there, (you wonder why). I was very impress with the way it handle the back roads and getting to the snow packed ski area was not a problem at all. This X3 was on its turf!

On the way back it was clear blue skies and so was the autobahn so it was time to test out its high speed ability. I ran the SAV a constant speed of 100 MPH without any problems. I peaked it at 120 but the wife had me turn it down some.

This X3 is almost perfect if you use it as a SAV, it pretty much will go anywhere you point it in good luxury, but as an autobahn cruiser it sucks.
First of all once you get above 75 mph you need earplugs, at 100 mph it's deafening, at 120 mph it just got scary loud and weird noises coming from the moon roof. (Note: I drive a 740i at 130, 140 mph without any problems). But what really disappointed me was the hard "bronco" ride at these speeds. After a few minutes cruising at 100 mph and your hearing gets numb you feel good driving these speeds until you start to hit some uneven surfaces on the roads. Worst if you are taking slight curves at the time. I must say that at no time did I feel I would lose control of the X3 but I had to bring it down sometimes to get some blood flowing back into my head. I also notice that the auto trans seems to be out of range most of the time, unlike my 740i which always seems to pick the right gear, the X3 seems lost and under power at times.

BMW, why is the X3 so loud, come on guys we know you have the know how and I would have gladly pay extra for more sound insulation, an exhaust that doesn’t get annoying and tires that don’t scream!!! Also what is up with this “bronco” suspension? How about an active one where we can adjust it to the driving needs? Having the Miss take a nap use to be the highlight of my long distant trips now she’s up all the time because of the noise and bouncy bounce. Talk about stress…..

I give X3 high scores for being what it is, an SAV. As an added bonus it even handles the twisty better than most sport cars out there. For those who are looking for true BMW high speed cruising, look else where. I know you guys in other countries can only imagine driving (legally) at 100+ mph but here in the land of the best cars, wurst and bier it is common, legal, and expect in a BMW.

So if you want a SAV to do SAV stuff and do it in BMW style this is your SAV. If you want to hang with the big boys on the autobahn get yourself a 7 series BMW.

I know everyone will say that they won’t be driving the X3 that fast and the wife drives it slow, but then again how many of you really use it for its intended purpose?? SAV…

I like the X3 for what it is and now that I know what it isn’t I‘ll be driving my 740i when the skies are clear and the roads are paved.

Tonymey,

You are spoiled by the 740i. I daily drive a Pontiac Grand Prix on the Autobahns. Besides the looks I get from the Germans because I am driving the "exotic" car (imagine that, a Pontiac in Germany is as exotic as a Porshe is in the USA) it does not drive well at 130 - 150 mph.

I took a rental X3 3.0d out for a week to cruise around the area. Went to Garmish, down in the Alps, went up to Berlin on A9 (I live near Nurnberg in Bayern). The X3 I had was not loud at 130 mphs. Maybe something is wrong with yours? I didn't hear anything from the moonroof. My wife and kids were sleeping on the ride home just fine. I love the X3, I haven't decided if I want an X3 or X5 more, but regardless I am waiting until September to buy one. (I just bought the wife her new car, a Chevy Equinox, good looking little SUV, much cheaper fully loaded than the BMW I want).

JP

Desertnate
05-09-2005, 03:49 PM
Tonymey,

I daily drive a Pontiac Grand Prix on the Autobahns. Besides the looks I get from the Germans because I am driving the "exotic" car (imagine that, a Pontiac in Germany is as exotic as a Porshe is in the USA) it does not drive well at 130 - 150 mph.



Ugh...my condolences. I had an '04 Grand Prix GTP as a rental not long ago. Playing around to get the blower to kick in was fun, but trying to control the car when it did was not fun. I didn't like the think at 80~85, I don't think I would take something with that poor of brakes/suspension over 100 on the Autobahn (and yes I have done it in BMWs, Opel's, Fiats and VWs ;) ).

tnunnery
05-09-2005, 04:12 PM
Thanks for the great review. I recently did ED with the X3 and can also say that it performed even better than I expected in the snow.

As far as your noise is concerned, that is not normal. Having driven at 120+ on the Autobahn recently, I didn't notice any of the noise you describe. I would get that checked ASAP. On early models, the seal on the windshield seemed to be the culprit.

TVN

Caesar
05-09-2005, 05:34 PM
:dunno: In January we drove from the SF Bay area to Joshua Tree NP in one day. We routinely cruised at 85 or so, both on I-5 and dessert roads and did not notice the loud noise. Admitedly, we don't hit 100 mph, but if you have excessively load noises at 80-90, I think you should track them down and complain. They are not normal.

I agree. I routinely hit 80 MPH every day on my way to work. And this is on I-95 in the North East corridor (not the smoothest highway).

It was so quiet, I sometimes don't realize I'm going 80. It sneaks up on me. Most other cars, I know instantly if I'm going over 70. This car/SAV, I could easily hit 90 and not realize it. Very smooth at high speeds.

bmw325
05-09-2005, 05:45 PM
Tonymey,

You are spoiled by the 740i. I daily drive a Pontiac Grand Prix on the Autobahns. Besides the looks I get from the Germans because I am driving the "exotic" car (imagine that, a Pontiac in Germany is as exotic as a Porshe is in the USA) it does not drive well at 130 - 150 mph.



JP

Wow- that sunds pretty scare. I've had some Grand Prix rental cars and didn't feel safe above 75 let alone 100mph. Did you make any modifications to the suspension or brakes?

SabreXray
05-09-2005, 10:57 PM
Wow- that sunds pretty scare. I've had some Grand Prix rental cars and didn't feel safe above 75 let alone 100mph. Did you make any modifications to the suspension or brakes?
Yes I have. I have done about $3500 in modifications to the Grand Prix. It doesn't do 150 straight from the factory. I have upgradded the brakes, tires and added strut tower braces front and rear.

Its still mushy. It gets to 150 pretty quickly. I am running over 300 hp and 320 ftlbs of torque. Got to love the Supercharger. I could just imagine having a compareable BMW. Just don't see my buying an M3 or one of the V8 sedans. I have out grown the max power itch. I want something that drives well too now.