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X5 E53 (1999 - 2006)
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Old 12-13-2003, 04:10 PM
mkh's Avatar
mkh mkh is offline
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Location: CA
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 909
Mein Auto: E90 330i, X3 3.0i
Another X3 Review (long)

I finally checked out the X3 yesterday. Couldnít find one with Sport Pkg, nor 6-speed. I went to two dealers and they both have the same configurations: Mystic Blue, Step, and Premium Pkg. It seems the Sport Pkg and 6-speed are still not available to the dealers, at least the two I went. And now, the verdict:

Exterior
Compared to the X5 from the outside, the X3 is quite a bit smaller, especially the width. The front and rear black plastic bumper is acceptable. The material used is about the same as the X5. Jet Black is the best color to hide it. When looking from the rear, the dual exhaust tips are kind of odd. You can see the hook welded to the tips quite easily, and also the flap and its mechanism. They are attached just a few inches from the tip, and too much of the guts are exposed to the outside. Overall, the exterior looks ok, but not great. The closing of the doors will not give a BMW signature sound like "thump', but more like "crack".

Interior
My biggest disappointment is the back seat. It has absolutely no cushion to speak of. I thought I was sitting on a wooden bench and leaning against a wall. How come nobody mentioned this before? It is unacceptable by ANY car standard, much less a BMW. I can't imagine sitting at the back with the sport pkg for a long trip. The two front seats are much better, just like the standard 3-series seats. When pulling up the parking brake, the feel of the clicks are very rough and loud. The plastic material is cheap, thin, and plain. The storage cover on the dash top (supposed to be the nav screen cover) reminded me of the Geo Prizm and Dodge Neon. No, itís not like the Z4 either, the Z4 has a much better interior. Those who complain about the cheap interior of the G35 will change their mind when they see the X3.

The size of the cargo area is about 3" narrower and 1" shorter than the X5, but it "looks" smaller than the numbers indicate. The cargo floor is lower which makes loading easier. The rear seat is again 3" narrower than the X5 and is barely enough for 3 people seating. Legroom is ample, even with tall driver. The panorama roof is nice, but no big deal.

Ride
The ride, for me, is good. But remember, this is NOT the sport pkg. It is about the same as the X5 3.0i Sport. So the sport pkg will probably be even firmer, and that's where all the complaints are.

Performance
Acceleration is acceptable, but far from exciting. It feels marginally quicker than the X5 3.0i Step but not the 5-speed. Just like other 3-series motors, it lacks low-end torque. So you really need to rev it up to get decent power. Handling is quite good for its type. Cabin noise is much louder than the X5.

Conclusion
Comparing an X3 to an X5 is more like a CRV to an MDX. And there is no way the X3 can steal the X5 sales. The level of luxury between the two is much greater than their base price difference of $4k. I would say at least a $10k gap. For the same price, Iíd rather get a stripped X5 than a loaded X3.

Last edited by mkh; 12-13-2003 at 04:14 PM.
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