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X3 E83 (2004 - 2010)
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  #1  
Old 08-12-2007, 04:44 AM
Hofmeister_NV Hofmeister_NV is offline
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(X3) Took Delivery Today: First Impressions

Ah . . . the simple pleasures in life. I was just out on my front porch (watching a shrill harpy of a neighbor scream at her husband about mis-parking their Passat), roasting a kind, fat bowl of the chronic, having a Foster's lager (OK, six!) . . . but mostly admiring the new BMW X3 in my driveway! Just drove it back from the dealership in Sacramento up here to near Reno . . . so I've put about 150 miles on the X3 so far (there were 13 miles on it at the time of delivery).

To re-cap: 2007 Alpine White X3 3.0si; all black leather; grey poplar; sport package, premium package, cold weather package, servotronic; xenons; SI airbags; cargo net; privacy glass; premium stereo. Oh, and 6-speed manual transmission. I said "nyet" to the *free upgraded* automatic.

What follows is just a random, whatever-comes-to-mind-at-the-moment, list of things I thought -- good and bad (OK, well, it's about 97% "good") -- about my first drive in my new baby (a nice drive, too . . . started in LATE afternoon, then into twilight and finally night . . . so I got to experience several types of lighting changes).

[1] I was surprised that the dealership staff person who was sort of the designated "I'll show you the features" techie/smooth talker (I don't know if he was just BS'ing me or not) said this was the *first* manual transmission X3 he had done delivery prep on . . . EVER (at *their* dealership, I think he meant . . . and I didn't get the sense he'd only been doing delivery prep at that dealership for a short time).

[2] I was surprised (just overall) at how superior the driving experience (very short, thus far) is with the X3 compared to what I've ever driven before (maybe a dubious honor given my past vehicles were such luminaries as: (a) a 1978 Plymouth Volare wagon (white); (b) a 1965 Pontiac Bonneville "Catalina" (sea green); (c) a 1974 VW 412 wagon (gold) (d) a 1985 5.0 litre Mercury Capri (silver with . . . uh, *bold* orange striping (hey, it was 1985!)); (e) a 1988 Ford Escort GT (white); (f) a 1984 Merkur XR4Ti (navy blue)*; (g) a 1988 Honda CRXsi that finally died and caught fire at 237,000 miles (silver); (h) a 2000 Saturn SC2 (silver); and (i) a 2002 Saturn L300 (light metallic blue)).

(* On a tangent, I just have to say that, in some ways the XR4Ti was an a amazingly well-engineered car, and in some ways it was an amazingly badly-executed car. That 2.3 litre turbocharged 4 went amazingly fast . . . I think they put a similar engine in the Ford Mustang SVO.) Un-speed-governed, I think those things could hit a pretty good top speed.

[3] Just as with the 5.0 litre Capri and the Merkur XR4Ti . . . the clutch on my X3 is *very* similar. It has a long "throw" with a "take up" or "engagement" that's pretty rapid. I'm still getting used to it (that style) again. I think they're great clutches, but (for me) . . . I've got to go through a bit of a learning curve on that again. (If any motor-savvy person can better explain what I mean by the clutch pedal arm traveling a long way, but the actual engagement of the clutch occurring only in the last few fractions of an inch of that total travel -- please do so!)

[4] In contrast, that engine is "oh so forgiving." There must've been times I was heading up I-80, 120 m.p.h., accelerating uphill, A/C on . . . only to then realize (dork) that I was going that speed uphill perhaps "bogging" the engine a bit with the 6-th gear overdrive.

[5] Especially being able to "wind it out" a bit with the manual transmission, I'm just amazed at the power. I thought I was being a "sporty shifter" (based on vehicle speed) going up to about 3,500-3,700 r.p.m. between gears. And the engine just felt and sounded like it was positively "loping." "That's nothin' to me, buddy. Take me up around 6-7K!" The other day I was worried about "torque," but not today! I think, with the right driver, the X3 could probably "chirp the tires in second gear."

[6] For someone used to mushy brakes on a lot of cars, I think the brakes seem *very* sensitive. I couple of times it almost scared me how fast the car came to a stop with an application of only *moderate* foot pressure. Again, this is NO criticism; it's something I'll get used to in driving a better car.

[7] Despite saying the clutch "take up" was a bit rapid (and not so smooth for me (yet)), I thought the gearing was very "user-friendly." Heading uphill on I-80 to Reno, I was typically doing 70-85 m.p.h. And that was in three different gears: (a) 4th; (b) 5th; and (c) 6th. (Being so used to 5 speed cars, I sometimes almost forgot there was a 6th gear!). In all three of those gears, the engine never once lagged, never raced . . . . it stayed within about 2,900 to 3,700 r.p.m. constantly. It felt to me like the engine regarded it as a light jog.

At lower speeds around town (say, 35-40 m.p.h.), the gearing also seemed very user-friendly and non-punishing for any of 3rd, 4th or 5th gears.

[8] As with the brakes, I'd never before driven a vehicle with steering this "tight." I love the heavy, thick M-series steering wheel, and I like how the steering has a bit of a "heft" to it at least when one is not at low speeds. At times I found myself inadvertentently overcorrecting simply because I'm used to a more lackadaisical steering response. I didn't notice any perceptible oversteer or understeer. Again, it will just take some learning on my part how to respond to a quality automobile.

[9] OK; I guess I have to air one gripe. Cup holder; surprise! But it's just that I find, with the manual, that each time I shift into 2nd, 4th or 6th gears, my forearm whacks whatever is in the cup holder. I personally don't even feel a need for a cupholder, but at least if you're going to put one in, don't put it where the shifting arm is going to hit it!

[10] I had read reviews saying that the "footbox" (I guess, where the clutch, brake and accelerator pedals are located) was pretty "tight." I didn't have that trouble, and I'm not a little guy . . . 5'10"; 215 lbs; normal men's size 10 feet. It seemed fine to me. My feet weren't mashing the wrong pedals.

[11] So, basically I love it. It probably ranks up there with the Dyson vacuum in terms of products that have both met and exceeded my expectations. I'd probably give it a 9.7 out of 10.0. (Of course, I guess I could become a bitter cynic if it develops some sort of unfixable lemon-problem 4 months from now -- fingers crossed that won't happen.)

[12] The "perception of speed," to me (especially, I guess, as contrasted to the speedometer-indicated speed) , seemed odd/altered in the X3. What seemed like 55 m.p.h. (to my senses) was over 80 m.p.h. in actuality. What seemed like 35 m.p.h. was over 50 m.p.h. I'm going to have to watch not getting a ticket!

[13] Ah; another complaint. Again, this may be a "getting used to it" thing for me, but I found the "self-dimming mirrors" to be a bit weird and almost dangerous. (This was my first time ever driving a vehicle with self-/auto-dimming mirrors.) What "threw me off" about it was how the dimming mechanism seemed to make the cars behind me look further away than they were, and I had a "close call" or two where I signalled and looked to move over, only to be surprised when I turned my head that the car was a *lot* closer than it appeared in the mirror.

[14] I've heard some reviewers on some programs sort of "bash" the X3 for being too "boxy" and angular when compared to, say, the Acura RDX or the Lexus RX or the Infiniti FX35 or *maybe* even the moon-buggy-esque Nissan Murano. I guess taste is really just subjective, but I like the sharper lines of the X3. (Of course I like Danish modern furniture and Bauhaus architecture too, so maybe I'm biased.)

[15] One thing that was cool about the dealer with whom I dealt (I know more than one regular on here has advised "Get 'em to throw in the car mats and a full tank of gas, man!") . . . is that both of those were handled automatically and not at all played like I had to demand it. They were just like, "Do you want carpeted or rubber floor mats, sir?" And the gas tank was full from the moment we put the key in to check out some of the car's features with the delivery service guy.

[16] Except for the inordinate wait to have the finance documents lady do about 3.5 the normal number of forms (since I leased in CA but live and will register in NV), I'd give it an "A" grade all around . . . from the buying experience (especially since knowing the sales manager for 15 years got me a "$750 over dealer invoice" deal -- no haggling involved), to the vehicle itself -- I wish I had pictures to post but they're still on my wife's camera, dammit! Again, probably just getting B.S.'d, but one of their motorcycle-only techs came out to ride home and was like, "Damn, that's a beautiful car, man!"

[17] So, I have to end this on-and-on-and-on rant at some point . . . so let me just finish by saying "Now I know why people buy BMWs; I *love* my car so far; It's going to take me a bit of practice and learning to get totally comfortable with the sensitive brakes, short take-up clutch, and sensitive steering . . . but I think I'll have to put in the time to bear that "onerous" task. ("Hey, honey; I have to go practice driving my BMW around the countryside to make sure I've mastered the 'clutch take-up'.") Yeah, that's the ticket!

Color me (thus far) an enthusiastically happy new X3 owner!
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  #2  
Old 08-12-2007, 05:02 AM
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MMME30W MMME30W is online now
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Nice post. We enjoy ours. Might want to read up on the break-in section of the manual.

Enjoy the ride.
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  #3  
Old 08-12-2007, 05:07 AM
Wolfie Wolfie is offline
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Congrats on your new ride, your gonna love it!
I too have a problem with speeding, I look down thinking I'm doing 55 and I'm doing 85..
It just wants to GO! GO! GO!

Good luck with the ride!
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  #4  
Old 08-12-2007, 06:32 AM
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Congrats on the new car. I'm not surprised about that your dealer staff hadn't delivered an MT X3 before. From my unscientific survey about 3% of X3's have a manual. However nearly all of them are 2.5i's from the days before the AT was free. A MT 3.0si is a rare car.


The clutch. Yes it takes getting used to. You might want to search "Clutch Delay Valve" or CDV. I prefer to leave the valve in as you do adapt to what the valve is doing. In time you will also learn that you don't have to put the clutch all the way down to the floor. Rev-match, clutch about 2/3rd of the way down and just a little to fast / to early on the way up. It took about a month before I did it without thinking about it. It takes the clutch a little while to break in. You may notice a difference in a few days.

The clutch and the transmission on our MX-5 are a lot better. BMW should think about getting MTs from Mazda/Ford (or Aisin) instead of Getrag. Current weak dollar and weak yen might make it more attractive.




As you've discovered, the X3 has phenomenal handling. They've kept it very close to the X-drive e46. Its just heavier. . . Very few cars can match BMWs combination of luxury and performance.


BMW I6s motors have a very flat torque curve. For everyday driving it doesn't really matter what gear you are in. You can be in a higher gear than you would be in your XR4 or even the Capri and the car will still pull.


The Autobahn is calling. Your next X3 should be an ED.

Oh and read the break in section of the owner's manual
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  #5  
Old 08-12-2007, 07:04 AM
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AzNMpower32 AzNMpower32 is offline
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Another satisfied X3 owner, with a manual transmission. Automatic owners: listen up; you may consider 3 pedals in the future. (No programming issues with a manual)
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  #6  
Old 08-12-2007, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AzNMpower32 View Post
Another satisfied X3 owner, with a manual transmission. Automatic owners: listen up; you may consider 3 pedals in the future. (No programming issues with a manual)
NO--BMW needs to properly program the one they got--even a $18k ford shifts better. Other auto makers use this GM 6sp --without the gripes of those here--either we are more critical or the other carmakers have a better control program. Buying a 6sp manual because the manufacture cannot make their 6sp auto work is not the way to go--Auto's outsell manuals and they should work properly.
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Old 08-12-2007, 08:49 AM
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Congrats on the new ride! We have the same car (minus the MT, Privacy glass and all black interior) so I know that your love affair will be a long-lasting one.
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  #8  
Old 08-12-2007, 11:21 AM
d-rive d-rive is offline
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Congrats, BRAVO for choosing manual transmission
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  #9  
Old 08-12-2007, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Hofmeister_NV View Post
Oh, and 6-speed manual transmission. I said "nyet" to the *free upgraded* automatic.
Good man!
Congratulations.
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  #10  
Old 08-12-2007, 02:35 PM
zznalg zznalg is offline
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Congrats as well! We just took delivery of a similar car (minus the sports package, servotronic, premium audio -but WITH the Manual) 2 weeks ago. Good going! Enjoy and thanks for the great write-up. We love ours.
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  #11  
Old 08-12-2007, 08:29 PM
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AzNMpower32 AzNMpower32 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dug01 View Post
NO--BMW needs to properly program the one they got--even a $18k ford shifts better. Other auto makers use this GM 6sp --without the gripes of those here--either we are more critical or the other carmakers have a better control program. Buying a 6sp manual because the manufacture cannot make their 6sp auto work is not the way to go--Auto's outsell manuals and they should work properly.
Yes, they should work properly. BUT since apparently BMW cannot do so on a reliable basis (mixed results with SIBs), I think getting a manual X3 is the wiser choice. I mean, everything else about the vehicle is superb. Handling, motor, interior is improved now, great perfomance. I took mine on an off-road trail (meant for ATVs but registered vehicles allowed) just for kicks, and the X3 handled it with no issues at all. I'd like to see an RDX do that.
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Old 08-12-2007, 08:50 PM
contempt contempt is offline
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We just took delivery yesterday and had the same excitement/positive comments. First time I heard about the dealer gifts of floor mats and a full tank of gas (I haven't owned a new car in 15 years!). Anyway, my new X3 has mats and had a full tank of gas, so I just assumed that's what it's suppose to be. Now thinking about it, I wonder if I have floor mats in the back seat (haven't checked).
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Old 08-13-2007, 11:52 AM
davelv davelv is offline
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I believe the floor mats are included from BMW, but some dealers try to either make it part of the bargaining or actually charge for them.

I don't think a full tank of gas is included from BMW, however.
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Old 08-13-2007, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by davelv View Post
I believe the floor mats are included from BMW, but some dealers try to either make it part of the bargaining or actually charge for them.

I don't think a full tank of gas is included from BMW, however.

Sorry but you are wrong on this one. The mats are not standard on a US POE BMW.

Nearly all dealers will buy you a set if there is enough profit in the deal.


You do get free mats on a European Delivery car.
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  #15  
Old 08-13-2007, 02:49 PM
contempt contempt is offline
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Originally Posted by Andrew*Debbie View Post
Sorry but you are wrong on this one. The mats are not standard on a US POE BMW.

Nearly all dealers will buy you a set if there is enough profit in the deal.


You do get free mats on a European Delivery car.

Hmmm, "enough profit in the deal." Does that mean we who received free mats are paying too much?

Also, I thought all SAVs were built in SC. Mine actually shows manufacturing in Austria. Maybe I had a ED vehicle, thus the mats.
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  #16  
Old 08-13-2007, 04:11 PM
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AzNMpower32 AzNMpower32 is offline
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All X3s are built in Graz, Austria by a subcontractor, Magna Steyr.

The X5s and Z4s are built in Spartainburg, SC. You cannot do European Delivery on these models. The next gen X3 will be built in SC starting around 2011.
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  #17  
Old 08-13-2007, 09:59 PM
contempt contempt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AzNMpower32 View Post
All X3s are built in Graz, Austria by a subcontractor, Magna Steyr.

The X5s and Z4s are built in Spartainburg, SC. You cannot do European Delivery on these models. The next gen X3 will be built in SC starting around 2011.

Ah, thanks for the clarification. I'm new and learning the bimmer wisdom.
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  #18  
Old 08-21-2007, 10:27 AM
Lori Lori is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AzNMpower32 View Post
Yes, they should work properly. BUT since apparently BMW cannot do so on a reliable basis (mixed results with SIBs), I think getting a manual X3 is the wiser choice. I mean, everything else about the vehicle is superb. Handling, motor, interior is improved now, great perfomance. I took mine on an off-road trail (meant for ATVs but registered vehicles allowed) just for kicks, and the X3 handled it with no issues at all. I'd like to see an RDX do that.
Do you have sport package? What was the trail like, hard dirt, rocks, sand? Sounds like fun.
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Old 08-22-2007, 06:40 AM
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Nice color combo...any pictures yet?
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  #20  
Old 08-23-2007, 09:51 AM
lynn2007 lynn2007 is offline
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I got a full set of carpeted mats, a tank of gas, BMW logo key chains, maps and a sunshade (that was only thrown in as extra on a courtesy for something else).
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