Four-wheel drive vehicles often get a bit of stick around town. Aren’t they mighty gas guzzlers populated by Chanel-clad mothers waiting to pick up their cherished weans from private schools?
Now this may be true of many of the vehicles that fall into the 4X4 category but the sweet BMW version I have been driving certainly does not instil instant road rage on your average saloon car fella.
I’ve had the pleasure of being cosseted by a BMW X3 2 litre diesel XDrive (BMW’s monniker for a City mudplugger) and it’s a great car.
As a former Range Rover owner, I am familiar with the obvious irritation we can cause our fellow motorists when we appear to be looking down on them, but not once did I experience this in BMW’s charming and wellformed entry level 4X4.
I spent my time with my new vehicle traipsing around my home city of Glasgow, where Newton Property Management, set up many moons ago by my father, William, a surveyor and estate agent, does the bulk of its business.
I headed off to the East End in search of some rough-edged, gap-site to put the car through its pace. Over the years, I’ve spent a good bit of time around the areas recently bulldozed and making way for the fabulous facilities of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
I was near to Paradise too - for those uninitiated, that’s the name for Celtic Football Club’s hallowed home which was always within sight. I didn’t have any rivers to cross or mountains to climb although some have suggested it can be pretty wild out in the East End of Glasgow.
This BMW X3 performed beautifully in all the not-so-great-city terrain that I threw at it. This is a light-footed, nimble four-wheel drive and on the mud-strewn roads around the building site it was found to be extremely sure footed.
I’d love to give it a thorough try-out in the snow or ice but, from this experience, I do expect it will hold its own. And Mums, yes, I think you will be able to get those cherished weans to school and back safely and probably a lot quicker than the aforementioned larger models, as it’s a neat little vehicle.
I had the two-litre version of the car and the only shortcoming this model had was that this engine isn’t as eager as BMW’s very refined 3 litre diesel. However, it’s mated to a beautiful gearbox and the fuel consumption actually beats most cars – petrol or diesel. Apart from this model’s lack of power, this particular car is a fine looking, upright 4X4.
It’s not vulgar and instead has tasteful lines incorporating smart sculpted elements which help make it look good on the road. The driving position is superb, sitting slightly above your neighbouring cars, therefore giving first class sight lines. Of course, being a BMW, the interior finish is perfect.
I was also quite heartened by the inbuilt specification given BMW’s previous reputation of being a little bit frugal in that department and this car comes with a pretty comprehensive free list, including air conditioning, electric windows, ambient internal lighting and a very good in-car entertainment system including i-pod connection and the rest.
BMW have an I-drive controller which apparently works everything but having had the car for a short while I struggled to get to grips with it. I got the feeling that once you’ve understood this little gem it allows you to operate all the functions effortlessly. This is a five-door vehicle with tonnes of load space plus great flexibility with the help of the 60/40 split folding rear seat.
It has an impressive storage area for a car of this size and I actually suspect I could get my Shetland Pony in the back (the only horse I could buy that I fitted on, being 5ft 6 inches tall).
This is a fairly grand car and to me it stands heads and shoulders above all the competitors – another well executed vehicle from the master of making good cars – BMW.
The car Stephen drove was the X3 xDrive20d SE
OTR price £40,635.
Car supplied by Douglas Park Glasgow BMW/MINI, 3-33 Kyle St, Glasgow G4 OHP, 0141 333 0088, 0141 333 8245