I don't care what car you put this engine in, it's fantastic. The turbocharged 3.0-liter straight six sounds especially cool in parking garages and also first thing on a cold morning, when it sounds very burbly and mean.
What do I think about the brand-new X3? On the outside, it looks quite smart and more carlike than its predecessor (do I see a bit of Mercedes-Benz GLK in the side profile?). The X3's comfortable cabin uses nice materials all around, and there's plenty of room for me to sit behind myself (I am only five-foot-six, though). I'm not entirely sold on the interior's wood trim, however, which looks a bit weird because of its very light hue. In any case, I'm looking forward to spending more time in a U.S.-spec X3-the car we tested here was a European-spec preproduction model.
- Rusty Blackwell, Assistant Editor
As Joe noted, the Europeans as a whole have really brought their 'A' game when it comes to compact crossovers, such that it's now a matter of personal taste. The X3 just might be my personal favorite. The turbocharged six-cylinder is predictably superb, as is the eight-speed automatic, which is indeed wonderfully aggressive in sport mode. The suspension and handling really hit the Goldilocks "just right" spot, with steering that's a bit easier at parking lot speeds than in an Audi Q5, and sharper reflexes than a Mercedes GLK.
I only wish the X3 were more exciting visually. Much like the new 5-series and 7-series, the new X3 clearly avoids controversy at the price of standing out. Isn't there a happy medium between flame-Bangle and bland?
- David Zenlea, Assistant Editor