With a 0-62mph time of 8.1-seconds, the overall performance of the X3 xDrive20d belies the perception of its meagre engine displacement. In truth, it feels just about warm-hatch quick on the road, with a useful surge of torque for overtaking and when exiting tighter corners. It’s that torque – nearly 300lb-ft of the stuff – that gets the weight moving, and conversely, when you do leave behind its influence at higher rpm the X3 soon feels decidedly breathless. Driving rapidly requires the accelerator pedal to be almost permanently welded to the bulkhead, there not being a great amount of subtlety required to access the narrow performance band on offer.
We know from experience that the ZF eight-speeder is rarely caught on an off day, so it’s a tempting choice in this instance. As a manual, the X3 20d feels responsive to the throttle, but the relatively narrow torque band means that frequent gear changes are required to keep the engine on the boil. The shift itself is pure BMW: direct, but with a ‘notch’ before the gear slots home that can either be forced with ‘thunk’ or more kindly negotiated in a definite two part-action as the point of resistance is overcome.
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Obviously, the performance of the 30d and 35d models is in another league. Despite the latter being the heaviest of the X3 models at 1,860kg, it can still reach 62mph from rest in just 5.3-seconds.