Monday, December 24, 2012

Used Car Review - BMW X3 (2005-2010) + The Hunt for Santa's Sleigh Verdict!

Santa has 24 hours left and Myk Belmonte saves the day by offering a last choice for the ride that could make kids around the world happy. An SUV? Santa asked. But, you'll love the utility and space that it provides. Then again, there is more than that, and you'll be surprised with what would Santa pick.

2005-2010 BMW X3

See the verdict after the X3 picture at the end of this article!

If the formula of creating compact SUVs with sedans as their base is successful when it comes to mainstream brands such as Honda, Subaru, and Toyota, what more if luxury brands have one on their line up? Lexus started this trend back in 1998 (a year earlier for the twin named Toyota Harrier) with their RX300 that is based on the Lexus ES sedan, basically a glorified and more expensive Toyota Camry. It may cause some stir on this statement, while the Land Rover Freelander arrived a year earlier (and sold at the same time with the Harrier), the Lexus sparked the market and had German brands develop theirs.

Among the Germany luxury brands sold locally, it was BMW who entered first in the market with the X3 (with platform code E83) in 2003. With that in mind, Audi and Mercedes Benz followed suit in 2009, which meant the X3 is nearing its swan song while these two are just new. Based from the 3 Series sedan, it was a sales success but with some demerits (these will be pointed out later in this article). It bowed out in 2010 to make way to the F25 X3. As usual, this was marketed as a SAV or Sports Activity Vehicle.

Filipino Bimmer fans had to wait until late 2004 for the arrival of the X3 in our shores. Initially, it was offered with a gasoline engine but a mid cycle refresh in 2007 had the 2.0 diesel engine paired with a stick (it was only in its category to offer one) than an automatic box. Finally in 2008, the 2.0 can be ordered with an AT transmission as well the 3.0 diesel is available. Enough of engine stories, this waved goodbye in 2011 for the F25 chassis.

Value and Costs
Fancy a 3 Series but worry that it cannot survive floods nor the dirt roads to your hacienda? Then a second hand X3 is the prudent choice in this case, with units costing between P1,200,000-P2,500,000 which ranges from different engines to vehicle amenities. A wiser decision would be checking out your nearest BMW dealer and ask if they have pre-owned X3's, since they do have a limited warranty and these units went through a thorough inspection.

Owning a German vehicle could be a pleasurable experience but have its components break down it would be a huge hassle. Have the engine overheat regularly, electronic gadgets fail on you, and the dashboard crack due to our tropical climate,  prepare to shell out a huge sum for these problems. So from the start, inspect the unit well and have them repaired before taking possession. Do not forget to fill up with fuel from reputable gasoline stations with premium gasoline as the preference.

Exterior and Interior
The X3 is definitely not a shrunken X5 nor a raised 3 Series Touring, but rather it carries styling cues that do not come together. The black bumpers and lower body cladding do not go in harmony, especially if you are considering an earlier model in light colors. A facelift rectified this problem which had the bumpers colored. If you are style conscious, go for the 2007 and later models.

Going inside, you'll notice that the dashboard layout and the gauges are inspired from the Z4 convertible, which dictates to you "let's go out and have some serious driving fun". Trim materials are expensive feeling, which should be. However, the X3 can be nominated as one of the nominees for the less human friendly interior especially the E90 3 Series is more hospitable, to say is that five people is a snug fit. The cargo bay is more than enough for the monthly trips to the airport (just make sure you'll be fetching one or two relatives plus their luggage).

A huge advantage over the X3's rivals are the numerous engine choices. For its first year in the market is a M54B25 2,494cc I6 gasoline engine which possess 192hp at 6,000rpm and 245Nm at 3,500rpm. Come year 2007, an upgrade on the gasoline power plant that seen a N52B25 engine with 218hp at 6,500rpm and 250Nm at 2,750-4,250rpm under the hood but having the same displacement, and a M47TU2D20 1,995cc  I4 diesel which is paired with a manual transmission that has 150hp at 4,000rpm and 330Nm at 2,000rpm. The last wave of engines arrived in 2008 with a M47TU2D20 and automatic transmission tandem carrying 177hp at 4,400rpm and 350Nm at 2,000rpm and a N52B30 2,993 I6 diesel engine with 218hp at 6,500rpm and an earth shaking 500Nm at 1,750-2,750rpm. Evaluating each of the engines, the gasoline ones have a soundtrack from idle to red line and does its job with gusto and in BMW flavor. The diesels are no slouch, since you won't go wrong with the two diesel burners and they satisfy your need for speed.

Driving Impressions
If you are seeking for a smooth ride, click that back button on your browser since this SUV (or shall I say SAV) is not for you. The X3 loves to attack corners and does such with confidence, handling is excellent and this can be attributed with the much criticized harsh ride. It drives similarly to the 3 Series but it is less prone to road bumps thanks to the increased suspension travel. If you aim for a less jarring ride, go for the 2007 and later models since this problem has been rectified.  Off road capabilities are poor since this is car based. You can pit in this car in slalom tournaments without the fear of rolling over and stops in a dime, thanks to the standard large disc brakes.

There are two types of drivers, the one who wants it nice and slow and the one who is fast and adrenalin filled.  If you belong to the latter category, the X3 is the one for you. You may forgive the lack of interior space and the spine crashing ride (especially on the earlier models) but you don't buy a BMW for a comfortable ride right? Attacking corners is now attainable since the mercy of depreciation hit the X3.

Santa Says
If there is the chance I could buy a car for my personal use, it would be the BMW X3. I like driving fast on sharp corners (much to the horror of my aides and whenever time permits me) but never mind the harsh ride since my figure does absorb it. Hafta save for fuel since I would be getting the diesel. Enough of dreaming, in reality, this won't make the cut as a sleigh no thanks to the limited cargo area. But then, it would be a feast to see a fast sleigh making a tight corner in the hills of Japan or Switzerland.

The Good:
  • A 3 Series in stilts
  • Sharp handling
  • Impressive diesel engine
The Bad:
  • Crashy ride (on earlier models)
  • Do you think you could stretch your legs than in the 3 Series?
  • Lack of cargo room than the 3
The Pick: 2007 and later models

Engines: 1,995cc M47TU2D20 I4 and 2,993 N52B30 I6 diesel, 2,494 M54B25 and N52B25 I6 gasoline
Power: 150hp @ 4,000rpm (2.0 MT), 177hp @ 4,400rpm (2.0 AT), 192hp @ 6,000rpm (2.5 gasoline, 2005-2006), 218hp @ 6,500rpm (2.5 gasoline, 2007-2010 and 3.0 diesel)
Torque: 330Nm @ 2,000rpm (2.0 MT), 350Nm @ 2,000rpm (2.0 AT), 245Nm @ 3,500rpm (2.5 gasoline, 2005-2006), 250Nm @ 2,750-4,250rpm (2.5 gasoline, 2007-2010), 500Nm @ 1,750-2,750rpm (3.0 diesel)
Fuel Consumption: 5-10km/L (city), 7-13km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent multi-link

Price (New): P2,300,000-P3,500,000 (range from 2005-2010)
Price (Now): P1,200,000-P2,500,000
Rivals: Audi Q5, Land Rover Freelander, Lexus RX330, Mercedes Benz GLK Class, Volvo XC60
On Sale: Late 2004-2010

Prestige Cars BMW - 892-8127
Autohaus BMW - 638-0734
Autozentrum BMW - 772-6021

Photos courtesy of

To tell the truth, after weeks of searching the perfect sleigh (and also I plan to keep it) the car I'm eyeing is not on my shortlist, but rather I took the patience of reading your past reviews and I found the one car. I had consulted reviews from different countries and they do have support for this vehicle. So, the sleigh that you would see me around is a Toyota Previa! It may not be my first choice but I learned that you must have patience on buying, don't let your emotions go in. I have to make that payment bye!!

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