The BMW X3 was one of the original luxury crossover, a car that is equal parts luxury sedan and utility vehicle. Crossovers like the BMW X3 are some of America’s favorite cars. While there are many buyers who actually use the X3’s adequate utility, the majority of its owners are people that want to ‘explore’ urban shopping malls while looking like they have an active lifestyle. These sorts of luxury crossovers are becoming all the rage, and not just in America, with new models from various automakers popping up overnight. Now that the BMW X3 has so much competition, Top Gear thought it best to put it up against some of its chief rivals.
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Mercedes-Benz recently launched its GLC Class, a replacement for the aging GLK Class, and it’s built on the C Class platform. It’s the second smallest crossover in the MB range and it’s main target is the BMW X3. Both cars are similar in size, cargo space, performance and comfort. But the Benz is noticeably newer, with a fresher-looking interior design and a newer platform. Though we still find the X3 to be the better looker. In this test, though, the cars are remarkably alike, with the Benz packing a 2.1 liter turbo-diesel against the X3’s 2.0 liter unit. The Benz makes slightly more power, 204 hp vs the BMW’s 190, but they both achieve similar performance and economy figures. These two are the closest matched in the test.
The outsider of the group is the Land Rover Discovery Sport, a newcomer to the segment and one that approaches it very differently. While on paper the three seem similar, it’s in practice that the Disco Sport differentiates itself. While the X3 and GLC are built on sedan platforms, the Disco is all SUV, being designed as a utility vehicle first and foremost. The Disco also uses a 2.0 liter diesel engine, but it’s the weakest of the bunch with just 180 hp. It also has the shortest range, given that is has a smaller fuel tank than the other two. However, it’s the only vehicle in the test to have an available third row of pop-up seats. They may be fit for torture use, but they’re there nevertheless. It also has by far the most interior and cargo room. But the biggest advantage of the Disco is its genuine off-road ability, which can flat-out embarrass the other two cars.
On the road, the results are as to be expect for the BMW and Mercedes. The X3 feels the sportiest of the bunch, with crisp turn-in and sharp handling dynamics. Though that ends up leading to a harsher ride and less comfortable road manners. Give and take, I guess. The Benz is calmer and smoother to drive at low speeds, but as the speed increases it gets floaty and nervous feeling. The real shocker was the Land Rover, which surprised with a nice blend of dynamics. While it supposedly wasn’t as fun to drive as the Bimmer, it was more fun than the Benz. It wasn’t as comfortable as the Benz, but more so than the Bimmer. So it blurs the line between sport and comfort quite nicely.
The Disco is also the more special feeling of the two, according to Top Gear. Being that the X3 and GLC are built on the 3 Series and C Class, respectively, their interiors and driving characteristics feel almost too familiar. While the Disco does have some Jaguar bits, most of its interior and driving dynamics come from Land Rover and much of its interior is actually bespoke to the brand. So it ends up feeling very different from the other two cars, which is a good thing.
But the fact that the Disco Sport can actually off-road, and do it well enough to genuinely embarrass some serious off-road machines, it is said to be the best choice of the three. It also has the most interior and cargo space and is the most interesting to drive, so it’s deemed the winner. The Merc came in second place for being a bit fresher than the BMW and more comfortable to live with everyday. This leaves the BMW X3 for last place, but that’s not too surprising as it’s getting a bit long in the tooth and due for a replacement. When the X3 was new, it won pretty much every competition it entered, but it’s far from new now. Hopefully, the upcoming X3 can put it back on top.
[Source: Top Gear]