KNYSNA – BMW’s B57 3,0-litre straight-six turbodiesel has been a CAR favourite since our initial encounter with it. And it’s the latest iteration of this oil-burner that powers the German manufacturer’s new, box-fresh X3 xDrive30d.
While this derivative isn’t quite the flagship of the new third-generation range – that honour goes to the 265 kW X3 M40i – it’s certainly an able performer. And it needs to be, considering that this latest X3 is facing some tough new (and upcoming) competition from the likes of Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Volvo.
With 195 kW and 620 N.m directed to all four wheels via the tried-and-tested ZF eight-speed torque converter, the xDrive30d version of the X3 supplies exactly what we’ve come to expect from this configuration: plenty of refinement along with smooth, prompt power delivery and more than enough low-down torque to perform swift overtaking manoeuvres.
The X3’s well-insulated cabin means little turbodiesel clatter finds its way to the occupants’ ears, even at higher revs. Similarly, road- and wind-noise are well suppressed. The high perceived quality of the interior, which draws much of its tech from the 5 and 7 Series, adds further to the premium feeling.
The front double-joint spring strut axle and rear multilink suspension combine to offer a well-sprung ride both on- and off-road. In true BMW fashion, this thing’s not too shabby around corners either, while steering feel is pleasant enough.
The Bridgestone Alenza rubber, however, seemed to struggle somewhat on gravel. Although this is a tyre designed for both tarmac and gravel driving, it displayed some evidence of slipping mid-way through corners at low speeds, before the vehicle’s traction control system intervened.
On the road, though, this compound worked well with the xDrive30d’s suspension to offer both strong grip and impressive comfort. Still, those who are unlikely to take their X3s off the beaten track may want to opt for tarmac-biased rubber instead.
While the entry-level xDrive20d (before new base models arrive next year) is likely to be big seller in the range, at R873 088 the xDrive30d may turn out to be the sweet spot, balancing performance and comfort … not unlike its similarly accomplished 330d and 530d siblings.
Engine:3,0-litre, 6-cyl, turbodiesel
Power:195 kW @ 4 000 r/min
Torque:620 N.m @ 2 000 r/min
0-100 km/h:5,8 seconds
Top Speed:240 km/h
Fuel Consumption:6,2 L/100 km
Maintenance Plan:Five-year/100 000 km