‘X-citing’ update for the BMW X3

The 2022 BMW X3 could easily pass for its larger sibling the X5 in more ways than one.

The German luxury auto manufacturers have been long criticised for Russian Dolling their vehicles. That is, taking the same design and simply repeating it (albeit at different scales across their model lines.” They do this to retain a brand identity, but it does limit the design options and becomes boring after a while. At that juncture, there’s the tough decision of ‘how does the brand retain its common identity, while giving each vehicle the freedom to standout’.

The 2022 BMW X3 sDrive 20i is that step to that solution. In its case, BMW has given and taken away.

Sure it looks like just another Bavarian-built Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), but manufacturers have blessed it with small touches to differentiate it as the X3.

The first move was to solidify the trim levels. They all gain dual exhaust tailpipes that sit flush with the redesigned rear bumper. And there’s more in the rear as the X3 gets its most distinctive feature —narrow LED taillights that have a deep three dimensional design as opposed to the more L-shaped ones found on other BMWs.

The X3 gets more distinctive visual traits for 2022 to set it apart from the other X Series Sport Utility Vehicles.

The front gets similar treatment as BMW’s signature kidney grille is transformed into a single frame, rather than the traditional split of days old. Next to them are slimmer LED headlights and a new lower front bumper look.

From the side, it’s still going to be hard to tell the X3 from any other BMW SUV, but familial design language has to be retained in some manner. Not that many will care. What buyers of a premium SUV do care about is the amount of luxury they get, and the X3 doesn’t disappoint.

Inside, the X3 has more visual consolidation, gaining sports seats, and its centre console from the 4 Series. That may seem weird to take an element from a sports sedan and put it into what is supposed to be a practical family SUV, however BMW’s take on this sector has always been a bit different. To the brand, the X3 is a Sports Activity Vehicle and it doesn’t skimp on the Sport part of the designation.

The interior is well appointed and filled to the brim with the luxury and technology expected from a BMW.

Driving the X3 is a different experience and what sets it apart from class rivals. It’s comfortable, but there’s always a sense of it being reined in as the suspension retains a very tight level of body control.

There always seems to be enough grip, even in sDrive trim, which is front-wheel drive only. Speaking of the front wheels, they are fed by a turbocharged 2-litre making 184bhp and an eight-speed automatic transmission in the 20i model. For daily use, this is more than enough for the X3, but push deep into the pedal or head for SPORT mode and the X3 wakes up. Chassis, suspension, engine and transmission all come to the fold to make the X3 an engaging drive. On the highway it’s rock solid. In tighter confines the BMW hides its weight and dimensions very well allowing the experienced driver to thread it along in a wonderful flow.

Tech, luxury, that’s already there, as expected. Screens are digital and large. It can park and reverse itself. Quality leather lines in the spacious cabin. Occupants can enjoy as much automation as they like. A large panoramic sunroof, and ambient lighting are amongst a multitude of other premium features.

In theend, the X3, is something that likes to be driven and takes the Sport in Sport Activity Vehicle to heart.

The 2022 BMW X3 sDrive 20i is now available from ATL Autobahn.