2022 BMW X3 xDrive20d First Drive Review: Diesel Delight

People don’t buy BMWs for their luxury quotient alone; they also seek the engaging driving dynamics that come with the badge. Is the 2022 BMW X3 diesel still a great option for enthusiasts that want a specific kind of high?

2022 BMW X3 diesel driving front

If you plan to get into the entry-level luxury SUV segment, you have a decent number of options to pick from. But if you want something that is propelled by a diesel motor, that narrows down the list of choices as many manufacturers are phasing out diesel engines from their portfolio. One of the available options is the BMW X3 and the year 2022 has seen the Bavarian manufacturer bring out a facelift for the same. We drove the xDrive20d Luxury model of the SUV, which is also the only diesel variant of X3 available in India as of now while there are two petrol models on offer. What are the changes and what has remained the same; read on to find out!

A tidy exterior

2022 BMW X3 diesel front

When you look at the 2022 model of the X3, you might think that not much has changed overall. In a sense, that is true. The overall size and shape of the SUV remain the same as before. However, some neat little changes elevate this new model over the previous ones. Take a closer look at the surfaces and you will see that the lines are more prominent and the X3 looks a bit sharper than before. This is evident when you see the two creases on the bonnet, the shoulder line on the sides and the boot at the back.

2022 BMW X3 diesel rear

The LED headlamp cluster gets LED DRLs and adaptive lights. It also has high beam assist and the fog lamps have been integrated into the same cluster. This frees up space on the front bumper and makes it look cleaner. The bumper now has vertical air curtains with a glossy black cladding around them. Even the 19-inch alloy wheels come in a glossy dual-tone shade. A significant change at the back can be seen around the tail lamps. The light cluster has a 3D design and gets black borders now. All these black accents surely give the X3 a sporty look, justifying the ‘Sports Activity Vehicle’ tag. Altogether, I am rather pleased by the tasteful changes BMW designers have implemented on the 2022 X3.

More real estate inside

2022 BMW X3 diesel front seat

On the inside, the cabin is pretty much like most BMWs and comes with the finishing and features you would expect. The seats provide plenty of bolstering and the cabin has enough space for four adults to travel comfortably. There is a large boot that has space for a spare wheel under the floor. If you want to have more light in the cabin, you can open the large panoramic sunroof above.

2022 BMW X3 diesel dashboard

The only big change in the cabin of the 2022 X3 comes in the form of two 12.3 inches screens. One of these screens is the touchscreen infotainment system with brilliant touch response. There are many menus for one to dive into and tweak the way the sound is produced from the Harman Kardon sound system or change the way the instrument cluster displays information. BMW has also given the X3 a massive 12.3-inch fully-digital MID. If you have seen other BMW cars in the recent past, this setup will not look too different. Yes, it shows a lot of things all at once but if you take a moment to familiarise yourself with the cluster, it can be easy to read and get used to.

2022 BMW X3 diesel rear seat

I liked the wooden accents under the touchscreen display and on the door panels. While the three-zone automatic climate control is quick to cool the cabin, I did think that having ventilated seats would have made the experience even better. A bigger issue was the absence of a wireless charging pad for mobiles. Many vehicles that sit in lower price brackets come with this feature and it was a bit odd to see it being omitted here.

Familiar and fun drive

Not much has changed when you open the hood of the X3. You are greeted by the same 2.0-litre, in-line, four-cylinder turbo-diesel motor as the previous model. Even the peak power of 188bhp and peak torque of 400Nm is identical to the previous X3. But then it would have been wrong to expect a new engine in a facelift model or one that puts out 50bhp more. However, 188bhp is nothing to scoff at and the engine comes into its element just a bit before the needle overlaps with the 2,000rpm indication on the instrument cluster. If you were to put your foot down the moment the light turns green, you will not have to wait for long before the X3 lunges like a hungry hyena.

2022 BMW X3 diesel driving right

There is an 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission in the X3, just like many other BMWs. You do get paddle shifters behind the steering wheel but it is best to leave them alone as the response is not very quick. Plus, even if you are in manual mode, the X3 won’t hold onto gears and will simply shift up or down if you go toward either end of the rpm meter. If you have to drive fast, just engage Sport mode and let the automatic box do its thing. In Sport mode, the X3 is quick for an SUV its size and can find the right gear most of the time. Driving it in Comfort mode does not take away a lot of that character but you can get more mileage out of the SUV. If you want to save on fuel bills, EcoPro is the mode to opt for. Both the EcoPro and Sport modes allow further customization of the suspension and steering response for a more controlled drive.

2022 BMW X3 diesel driving rear

Speaking of the steering and suspension, the 2022 X3 can be deceivingly sedate when you are just ambling around in the city and then turn into an active and agile animal when you throw it around a few corners at high speeds. It comes with Dynamic Damper Control, allowing the X3 to react to the surface changes quickly. Even the steering feels artificially heavy at slow speeds but becomes a lot more accurate as you climb up the speedometer. Since power is sent to all four wheels, the X3 is never really short on the grip. The 245-section rubber on all four corners does a great job of aiding that cause too.

2022 BMW X3 diesel driving left

One complaint I had with this SUV was regarding the way it handled bigger speed breakers and potholes. The adaptive dampers deliver a good ride over most undulations on the road but do lack the ability to absorb enough impact when you are caught off guard by a sneaky ditch or when going over a very sharp speed breaker. The rebound is not bad but the compression could have been better.

Final thoughts

2022 BMW X3 xDrive20d

Driving a BMW is always an enjoyable experience and the 2022 X3 is no different. We have seen this 2.0-litre diesel motor work well in the model before and there are no major complaints here either. It can quickly adapt to a more aggressive driving style and deliver desirable results. With the tasteful changes on the outside, the X3 looks better than before. There is still a sense of familiarity with the design and the vehicle does not feel alien with the improvements. Interestingly, I feel that the real competition for the xDrive20d model will be the top-of-the-line X3 xDrive30i M Sport which costs just Rs 40,000 more and packs more kit and a fun petrol engine. That makes you wonder if a price tag of Rs 65.50 lakh (ex-showroom) is a bit too close to the other option. Of course, if you are specifically looking for a diesel option, then there is no doubt about which way you will swing.

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