The X3 has a lot to live up to. This is, after all, BMW, purveyors of the purported Ultimate Driving Machine. While some have lambasted the brand for losing its way, a stint in the X3 hints that there may be a glimmer of hope yet for those who still worship at this house of Germanic tradition.
Most versions of the X3 will be powered by the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder found in the sDrive30i and xDrive30i models. This engine makes 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet torque, which is enough power to get the 4,200-pound crossover to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds. More importantly than the zero-to-60 time, however, is the smoothness with which this motor operates. Under hard acceleration, it'll run through the rev range seamlessly and responsively. The eight-speed automatic will dutifully match the engine's poise as it changes gears with all the grace and precision of a distinguished British butler.
The turbocharged six-cylinder in the M40i takes all this up a notch or three. With 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, there's no shortage of power from this peachy inline-six. It's enough firepower to bang off zero-to-60 runs in just 4.6 seconds, making it faster than the SQ5 and a couple tenths off the GLC43 AMG. Like the comparatively humble four-cylinder, it's smooth and refined, with no compromises of comfort for performance. All M40i examples come with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Over the road, the suspension is equally impressive, with fluid road manners and no pitching and heaving through corners. It's as if the venerable 3-Series had a guiding hand in dialing in its younger showroom sibling.
Our primary quibble with the X3 is that the steering is overly heavy, even in comfort mode. We'd prefer something that's a little more forgiving in the most relaxed setting.