BMW X3 xDrive35i Review
Instant redemption

Story by Raymond L Photos by Yang and Raymond L
17 Apr 2011

With the new X3, memories of the ugly duckling first generation version can finally be banished.

Introduction, styling

Before the arrival of the Audi Q5 and the Volvo XC60, the first generation BMW X3, together with the venerable Lexus RX have been the undisputed kings of the premium mid-sized SUV sector. The X3's success has been truly exceptional considering how unpretty it looked since the day it was launched way back in 2003.

The X3's styling awkward to the point that it turned me off from test driving an example during its seven-year model life - yes, the first gen E83 X3 is the only BMW model I've not driven since I started reviewing cars a decade back. Seven years after the Singapore debut of the first X3, BMW now has the chance to redeem itself with the introduction of the replacement model.

In terms of overall styling, the new F25 X3 looks far from being revolutionary. In fact, it looks so nondescript when parked along a row of BMW X models that you'd more likely to mistake it for an X5. While the styling elements are very much the current X5 as well as some hints from the outgoing E83 X3, the proportions are more first generation X5 (E53) - with the new X3 almost as big as the latter.

At the front, the new X3 is best recognized by the forward slanting and more prominent double kidney grille that we've seen on the 7 and 5 Series models in recent times, a new heavily contoured bonnet as well as a bumper that is in line with BMW's other X models like the X6. The sides feature a prominent crease that runs parallel to the window line, the C-pillar design mimics the outgoing car's while the black wheel arch extensions add a touch of ruggedness. The new X3's rear is very much similar to the current generation X5's especially in the design and shape of the tail lamps.

The wheels on the xDrive35i might be 18-inch in diameter but they somehow manage to look lost under the X5's sizable wheel arches. Well, one can always browse the BMW parts catalogue for some 19- or 20-inch wheel options. Just like the F10 5 Series, the X3 might not be groundbreaking on the styling front but it does look purposeful and is definitely prettier and has a more premium feel and look than its ugly duckling predecessor.

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