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Old 12th February 2016, 21:31   #1
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Default Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update

Prelude and Purchase Decision

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-laura-sepia.jpg

Our Laura TSI was serving us very well. It never gave us any trouble and since I was using it only for highway drives, I wasn’t getting bored of it at all. I would always look forward to the next drive and after each and every drive I would come back with that feeling of exhilaration. The Laura had been with us for almost 5 years and in this period we changed our ‘city’ cars to AT hatches, first the i10 AT and then the Polo GT TSI. The AT’s have been a big hit with the family, with my dad swearing to never buy a manual car again and my wife not dreading the thought of driving cars. I too loved the convenience factor with the i10 first, and then realised that AT cars can be fun too after driving the Polo GT TSI over mixed conditions.

I bought a car seat for my daughter and would fix it in the middle back seat on the Laura whenever the whole family went out together. But the car seat would eat into the shoulder room of passengers seated to the left and right and my family would always complain about the lack of comfort and space. I, on the other hand would miss the convenience of an AT towards the end of long drives, esp those drives where you end up encountering traffic close to your destination. As a family we also developed that itch for something premium. It was the right time for us in many ways and almost unanimously we agreed that our next car should be something from a premium brand. It had to be practical, but it had to be a bit more premium.

Since mid 2015, the thought of replacing the Laura entered my mind and I was constantly looking at replacement options only to realise that it was not an easy task replacing a car like this. You want more space, but don’t want to compromise on driving pleasure. Family wanted something a bit premium and spacious, while I wanted something fun to drive and powerful. Difficult requirements! We had to rule out the 3/A4/C class of cars as they are really not up on space compared to the Laura. Next up was the Superb/ Passat. These cars with their 2 litre diesel engines, I knew would never satisfy me. We then expanded our probable list to A6/5/E segment. All these cars are 4 seaters at best and when you stuff the boot with luggage (people with small kids will know what I’m talking about), their relative low ground clearance and long wheelbase could be major cause for concern.

A luxury crossover looked like a possible solution. A bit of a compromise, since they can never be as good as sedans to drive and not really as spacious as full blown SUVs. Yet, it could be an answer to our predicament as they are better to drive than full blown SUVs and yet more spacious than sedans.

Cars considered

Volvo XC60
I liked the Volvo XC 60, but almost every comparison review brought out one point : Its is not as good to drive as its German rivals. This was the deal breaker for me. The engine and gear box were not potent enough and the entire package seemed to be made not with enthusiastic performance in mind. Also it was the most dated product of the lot with an ‘all new’ XC 60 around the corner

Audi Q5
Somehow I was never drawn to Audi as a brand. Yes, I have had a good experience with a VAG car that shared so many parts with an A4. But the Skoda was in company of brands like Toyota/ Honda / Hyundai, and in this company it is good VFM as you get a car that is similar to an A4 in many ways. But when you are considering an Audi, you can get BMWs and Mercs for similar money. In short, for me, the pull of a BMW or a Merc badge is a lot stronger than an Audi badge. Also what didn’t help matters was that I wasn’t a great fan of the Q5’s looks which is too common on roads now.

Skoda Superb (All new)
The new Superb was rumored to be launched by October 2015. This is quite a logical successor to the Laura, more so since we are happy Skoda owners. This seemed to be an incredible car with almost every feature that cars costing 2x had. But I felt Skoda in India is on a downward graph. Their sales has dropped and they don’t really seem to be bullish on India. I get a feeling the Superb is going to suffer the same fate as the Octavia. India is not going to get enough kits allotted, due to heavy demand from other important markets for Skoda. I feel that is one reason why the launch is getting postponed.

Mercedes GLC (to be launched)
Mercedes is on a roll. Their new design language is a hit and all their new cars are very appealing. The GLC which replaced the GLK globally (never sold in India), was rumored to be launched sometime in 2016. I looked at a lot of online reviews and liked the car. Being a new car I felt it could be expensive due to zero discounts for at least a couple of years. I also had concerns about the reliability of these new gen Mercs in India. The GLC has lovely interiors, spoilt only by that stick on tablet like screen and an awkward steering column mounted gear shifter. It comes with a new nine speed auto which isn’t as good as the 8 speed ZF as per most reviews. Nine gears is one too many if you ask me.

BMW 530d
Dream car in many ways and given that it costs exactly same the X3 30d, this had to be in contention. The 530d is better equipped than the X3 too, but the lack of space was a weakness that was hard to ignore. Our entire premise of changing the car was to change to something more spacious. We have to travel to our native place at least twice a year to attend family functions and in almost all our driving holidays, we end up encountering rough roads. The 5 would struggle in such situations. If it was just me, I would have bought the 530d, eyes closed.

BMW X3
Though the X3 is quite a successful model worldwide, it hasn’t been that successful in India. I feel a lot of it has to do with the fact that BMW weren’t quite aggressive in marketing it and secondly the lack of a spare wheel is a major disadvantage in an SUV. The first gen X3 was an odd car and was often ridiculed for its odd looks and bone jarring ride. But the F25 is very different. It is much bigger, rides well, is spacious, practical and good to drive. The F25 LCI launched in mid 2014 came with some subtle cosmetic upgrades that uplifted the exterior looks nicely and it was the first BMW to get the new B47 2 Litre diesel engine. The new engine bumps the power up slightly, but more importantly it is more refined and quieter than the N47 engine it replaces. But the 2.0 was not what I was after, was I? The X3’s core strengths of best in class handling, potent gear box, spacious interiors and good track record of reliability and that BMW badge appealed to me.

I went through countless reviews and comparison shoot outs on the internet and came to the conclusion that the BMW X3 is the best fit for our requirements. Now only if it came with a 3L Engine, it would be a nice consolation to me for not getting to pick the 530d.

Last edited by Santoshbhat : 13th February 2016 at 10:54.
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Old 12th February 2016, 21:47   #2
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Default Test drives & purchase experience

Why 30d?
I am an engine guy. The first thing whenever I look at any car, I look that the engine specs. As GTO says, it’s the engine that makes the car, everything else comes next. Our new car had to be quicker than my Laura and this one condition would reject all the cars in the above list barring the 530d. Paying big money for a 2 Litre diesel just did not make sense to me. I’d rather go the full hog and get what I really want rather than live with a regret.

Now this was quite a problem, the solution to which I just could not come up with, until August 2015 when I read on Team BHP that BMW is bringing back the X3 30d in M sport Avatar. The 30d M Sport was almost 10L more on road than the 20d. But this 10L was for me and me alone. I was willing to let go of the 530d for the family and my family reciprocated by granting me my wish of getting the extra horses. Plus it helped that the M sport was better equipped than the X Line. Things like the Harmon Kardon audio system, heads up display, navigation, high end cluster, bigger iDrive screen, sport seats helped justify the price difference to a great extent.

The X3 30d ticked a lot of boxes
  • Powerful and Fast with a 6 Cyl Engine
  • Premium Badge
  • Spacious
  • Fun to drive ( Best handling crossover in India at atleast. )
  • Good ground clearance
  • Solid build
  • Decent reliability record (N57 Engine)
Now all this had happened without any test drives and without any visit to any showroom. Post September I got really caught up in work and the car purchase was put on the back burner. I thought March 2016 would be a good time to do it as we get depreciation benefits for half the year. In December D Bhpian akshay1234 posted about great deals to be had on BMWs and this really caught my eye. Besides there was talk of price revision by many Auto Cos in January. A quick chat with Akshay was enough to convince me that the X3 30d was the right car for us. Talking to a fellow enthusiast who owns the Laura vRS and the X3 30d was priceless. Thanks buddy and thanks to Team BHP.

Why not wait for the 2017 all new X3?
The next gen X3 code named G01 Link to thread (Spy Pics of the next-generation BMW X3 (G01)) is expected worldwide by end 2016 and it could come to India by mid 2017. Few reasons why I was OK with the current model was
  • The new one generally tends to be more expensive. More so due to lack of discounts.
  • Due to rising costs, India bosses tend to leave out performance variants and end up offering just the entry 2 Litre variants. I am saying the 30d might well be skipped for India with the next gen.
  • Initial gremlins associated with new models. This is the first time we are buying a luxury badge. I could not take the risk of buying an all new car with no track record of reliability. The present F25 and N57 engine is quite sorted out with no known issues.
  • Lighter build quality. Cars are becoming lighter and lighter with every generation. The F25 feels quite solid and typically German.
  • Of course this will affect my resale value. But then that has never been a criteria in my purchase decisions. I intend on keeping the car for 6 yrs minimum.

The Purchase and Delivery experience
I Immediately got in touch with Navnit Motors Lavelle Road, Bangalore who were quick to respond with a test drive of an X3 20d Xline. The TD went well and all of us were happy with the car. As expected there were no 30d’s for TDing, but the sales assistant was quick to give me a TD of the X5 30d to feel the engine. The 6 Cyl engine felt awesome. There was some serious shove from the motor and although the X5 wasn’t that agile, it felt a lot more luxurious than the X3. We did not want to be distracted and I stuck with my decision to go for the X3 as I was already on a highly stretched budget.

Then the haggling started. Navnit BLR is always stingy with discounts as they are the only dealers for Bangalore. After several rounds of discussions we finally agreed on the deal. What compounded matters was that there was only one piece in Alpine White with them in stock and there wasn’t any stock left with the factory either. But what really helped me was that BMW and their dealers were desperate for numbers in the closing stages of 2015 and the 30d had few takers. Inputs from Bhpians akshay1234 and Shivasuma were really helpful in negotiating with them.

After the deal was agreed upon, things started going downhill with Navnit. I must say they are a very disorganised and disconnected car dealership. Example : I got a call on 5-1-16 from their ‘sales co-ordinator’ asking me how my test drive went and when will I be buying the car? , this after 5 days of me taking delivery! The delivery experience was quite poor, something which I wasn’t expecting with a premium brand. Even after taking delivery I have faced some poor after sales service with people not responding to mails and calls for routine stuff like number plates, spare wheel kit, service pack info and RC card.

Last edited by Santoshbhat : 13th February 2016 at 09:40.
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Old 12th February 2016, 22:05   #3
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Default The Car

The car :

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6927a.jpg

What I Like
  • Fast yet efficient 3 Litre 6 Cyl Diesel Engine
  • Brilliant 8 Speed ZF Automatic Transmission
  • Good balance of fun and practicality.
  • Superb refinement levels. NVH is very well controlled.
  • Compliant ride over bad roads, yet handling is very good by class standards
  • Fantastic straight line stability and speed masking ability for a crossover
  • Selectable driving modes to suit your mood and conditions.
  • Spacious five seater, with a large and practical boot too
  • Interior quality and fit and finish is top notch.
  • Very comfortable front seats and superb ergonomics.
  • iDrive with a big 10.2” screen.
  • Ample storage compartments in the cabin
  • 16 speaker Harmon Kardon sound system


What I don’t like
  • Expensive. Road tax in Karnataka is equal to the ex showroom price of an S Cross 1.6
  • Lack of a spare wheel. Optional space saver eats up boot space as there is no cavity to store it.
  • Interiors look a bit dated when compared to modern competition
  • Lack of configurable options like you get in developed markets.
  • Missing features compared to other markets
  • Overpriced BSI service packs
  • High centre of gravity relative to sedans and sporty hatches restricts the fun factor
  • Rear seats are a tad low and don’t tilt or slide

My usage pattern of this car is going to be similar to what it was with the Laura – Monthly trips to Belgaum, family trips and weekend drives. My small cars take care of city runabouts. No, I am not into off roading and this car will not be doing any off roading at all. But its nice to know that the X Drive has got my back if I am suddenly confronted with some tricky and difficult terrain.

Exterior styling
The F25 X3 has been around since 2011 and the LCI was introduced in 2014. The pre LCI was a bit plain in design and the LCI fixed that to some extent. The controversial headlight meeting the grill design doesn’t look that bad on the X3 and X5 in my opinion. Still the X3 is no RR Evoque when it comes to looks. It’s a typical BMW though – butch and aggressive, but its not universal in its appeal. The Audi Q5, Merc GLC and RR Sport – its main rivals have a broader visual appeal compared to the X3. The M Sport has a different front bumper with a bigger air dam and elements similar to the X5. The rear bumper comes with a dark grey diffuser and twin chrome tail pipes. These design bits in the bumpers stand out in lighter colours like white. There are small ///M badges on the either fender, small M badges on the wheels, a small M badge on the steering and ///M door sills. They have kept it subtle. This is not an ///M car, so no badges on the grill or at the back.

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6971a.jpg

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6978a.jpg

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6982a.jpg

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6993a.jpg


Apart from the contrasting elements in the bumpers the rest of the car is bathed in white. There’s no black cladding in the sides like the X line and even the wheel arches are in white (black in X Line). All these visual elements give the M sport a distinctive look. Initially I found the front bumper to be too loud, but its grown on me and I like the mini X5 look.

Another feature of the M sport look is the lack of chrome. Window borders are in gloss black as against chrome in the X line. Roof rails also get the gloss black treatment. Only bit of chrome is the kidney grill surround. The grill teeth are in stain matt finish. I am thinking of ordering an all gloss black gril which, I think, will go very well with other gloss black bits. Am also contemplating wrapping mirror covers in gloss black vinyl.

At times I wish the car came with bigger wheels. 19 inchers standard on the M sport in western markets look swell. But 19 or 20 inchers are just not practical for our road conditions and I can understand why BMW has decided to stick with 18s for India. The alloy wheel design is specific to the M sport pack. BMW calls it “M Light” alloys, and I am inclined to believe that its lighter than the regular 18” Alloys. The wheels too have small M badges below the BMW Logo. Initially from the pictures, I didn’t like it too much, but in person they look quite good and gel well with the M body kit.

The large kidney grills, ringed BMW eyes and aggressive bumpers give it quite a menacing face. The rear has nice a squat stance with those large twin chrome tail pipes and black diffuser. It is not a very tall SUV and the long bonnet, short overhangs and small gaps in the wheel arches give it a nice balanced look.
Attached Thumbnails
Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6936a.jpg  

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6961a.jpg  

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6964a.jpg  

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6965a.jpg  

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6977a.jpg  

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6994.jpg  

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6997.jpg  

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7003.jpg  

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6712.jpg  

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6933a.jpg  


Last edited by Santoshbhat : 13th February 2016 at 09:48.
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Old 12th February 2016, 22:22   #4
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Default Interiors

Interiors

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6727.jpg

The X3 is surprisingly spacious on the inside. The seats are at a perfect height and one can just slide in and slide out without any effort. My Mom is very pleased with the ease of ingress and egress. The M sport is available in only one interior option : Black. I am a big fan of black interiors. Beige has lost its novelty with almost every other car sporting beige interiors including airport taxis! The seats are a combination of cloth and leather, quite a strange offering at this price point and I was a bit disappointed initially. I don’t have any fascination for leather as such and am generally ok with fabric seats. But this time I was keen on full leather as this was going to be a ‘special’ car. Thankfully the seats are rich and look quite sporty and rich at the same time. The area which is in contact with your back and butt are in a thick textured (black and grey) material, while the rest is in black leather with contrast white stitching. The cloth portion is made of a thick material and is very grippy and feels rich. This cloth and leather combo is carried on to the door pads as well and helps in breaking the monotony of black.

The layout of the dash is typical BMW with all controls logically laid out. The centre console, in typical BMW fashion, is tilted a bit towards the driver. Quality of materials used is excellent and fit and finish is impeccable. BMW has used lot of soft touch materials and it’s the kind of cabin that will stay tight and rattle free for years. Unlike the X line variants, the M sport comes with an upgraded black panel cluster, where the lower half of the dials is an LCD screen. When the car is locked all you can see is a black screen with 2 semi circles. The information display from the cluster is clear and crisp and typical BMW. The centre console is finished in piano black gloss finish and all switches and controls click with the finesse and precision you come to expect with Germans. The gear lever in particular is just awesome and is a class act by itself.

Although the quality and build of all interior components is excellent, the interiors lack that wow factor that you expect in this segment. The design is more about function than form. Just google Mercedes GLC interiors and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Glossy dark wood trim on the centre console area, parts of the dash and door pads lift the somewhat dull interiors to an extent.

The sea of black, including the headliner (exclusive to the M Sport) makes the interiors quite a dark place. Luckily the glass areas are quite large and let in a good amount of light. If you want more light, you can slide open the panoramic sun roof. At night the white backlit instrument cluster turns orange along with the heads up display. Ambient mood lighting consists of an orange glow just below the centre panel, around the door handles and the door bins. Each passenger gets his own air plane style reading lights as well. There are lights in the foot well and under the front seats as well which light up when you unlock or open the doors.

I love the sport seats on this car. Sport seats come with electrically adjustable side bolstering for lateral support. The base also comes with thigh support extenders. These front seats are supremely comfortable. I am 6’2” wear a size 44 shirt. For me the widest setting is actually perfect. If I was any wider or the seats any narrower, it would make the supremely comfortable seats virtually unbearable. So now I have one more reason to watch those calories . Both front seats come with a myriad of electric adjustments, like height, forward and back, base angle, backrest tilt etc…which can be stored in 2 memory presets along with ORVM position. You can pair the seat position with each individual key. So if two people are using the car, you can label your keys driverwise and as soon as you unlock the car with a particular key, the last stored seat and ORVM position with that key is automatically positioned for you. Its a shame that the steering adjust is manual. Surprisingly lumbar support adjustment is also missing.

Again exclusive to the M Sport is the M sport steering wheel. This wheel, thicker than the regular one, is a pleasure to hold and is superbly finished. In line with its sporty character, the wheel has no chrome elements and is wrapped in soft touch leather. The wheel has the standard set of mounted controls in addition to paddles for gears. People with small palms may find it difficult to wrap their hands fully around this one, its that thick! I’ve got big hands and love the feel of the wheel. Sounding the horn is not easy and takes some effort. You need to press really hard and close to the centre of the pad. You can’t use just your thumb to sound the horn.

Finding a comfortable driving position is very easy. Ergonomics are spot on too. The high driving position, good visibility, logically laid out controls and gizmos like the iDrive swivel and touch pad, and heads up display just pamper the driver no end. You almost feel like a pilot, piloting an aircraft.

The rear seats are nice and wide and have very good legroom. Overall width is easily 3 or 4 inches more than the Laura and three medium sized adults can be seated abreast quite easily. Good thing is 2 passengers can easily be seated on either side if you install a child seat in the middle. I am 6’2” and can sit behind my own driving position with enough legroom. The centre transmission tunnel is very much there, but its not as obtrusive as the Laura. The extra legroom makes it less of a trouble and the centre passenger can place his legs on either side of it and yet feel comfortable. The seats are placed a bit low (but higher than any sedan) and are not like the theatre like seats you get in the XC60. Due to the low seating position, tall people (6 ft +) will find themselves in a bit of knee up position. The rear seats backrests do not have any tilt adjustments and the base does not slide. I think BMW missed a trick here although the back rest seems to be at an optimum angle.

There’s plenty of storage spaces and compartments in the car. All four door bins can hold a one litre bottle each. There’s a twin cup holder upfront which is very easily reachable for driver and passenger. Centre armrest storage is large too, pity it isn’t cooled though. The Laura had a cooled compartment and was very useful. The glove box is of a standard size and there’s also a box to the right of the steering wheel, which is a good place to store cash for toll gates.

Mom is very happy with the handy rear window sun blind. The window glass has a 30% factory tint (70% VLT) and I think some amount of heat rejection too. Perfect in this no sunfilm world.

Boot space : The boot is specced at 550 Lts with seats up. The Laura’s boot at 560 lts was not only bigger in numbers but it was more practical too. Here the space saver eats up a good chunk of space. If I am called up for airport duty, I better leave the spare at home. Under the boot floor there is a tray with compartments to hold some storage hooks, warning triangle, first aid kit etc.. They really should have provided a cavity for the space spare instead. For the record, the X5 comes with a spare and a cavity under the boot floor to store it. From the look of it all new BMW’s will have a spare and wheel cavity from now on. Luckily the jack and tool kit (bought separately) fits into one of the underneath compartments. With the seats down you get a huge room like area with a flat floor that can be very useful to transport large items.

Sport Seats for Driver & Passenger
Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_6737.jpg

White backlighting during day time
Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7023.jpg

Illumination turns red at night. Camera doesn't capture colour properly
Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7062.jpg

iDrive resolution is quite good
Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7028.jpg

Spacious rear seats with good leg room
Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7043.jpg

Each door pad houses a tweeter and a mid range speaker.
Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7044.jpg

Close look at the cloth and leather combo
Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7051.jpg

Close look at the centre console
Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7056.jpg

Thigh support extenders for front seats
Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7063.jpg

///M door sills
Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7065.jpg

Space saver takes up boot space. Cover is on order
Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7046.jpg

AC performance :
You get dual zone climate control with vents for rear passengers. Rear passengers can independently control temperature of air flowing out from the rear vents.

Its not the best month to be judging the AC performance, but by the look of things the AC is a chiller. There is a max AC button to help you cool down the car quickly. The AC chills the car very quickly even with a low fan speed setting. Even in Max AC mode the blower does not make a huge din.

The recirculation button has auto and manual modes. I am not sure what auto mode does. Does it let outside air in periodically? or does it leave the vent open and closes it when detects high level of pollutants? I am inclined to think it’s the former.

Last edited by Santoshbhat : 13th February 2016 at 09:57.
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Old 12th February 2016, 22:41   #5
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Default Features

Features

The 30d M Sport comes with some extra kit compared to the X Line. I’ve made a chart that lists the extra equipment on the 30d M Sport.

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I’ll try listing out some of the features that I particularly like and some that I miss.
  1. Heads up Display : At first I thought that this was gimmicky without much utility. But after experiencing it fully, I can say it is really useful. A projector that sits behind the instrument cluster projects some vital information on the glass which can only be viewed by the driver. Now this image though projected on the glass, appears as if it is about 10 ft ahead of the car. As a result you don’t need to change your focus too much to see it. I kept telling my family to see the display and nobody could see it. Its almost like a ghost, visible only to the one, the ghost wants to haunt. The current speed is constantly displayed. Navigation inputs too are displayed if its guiding you and warnings like door open or seat belt not fastened too are displayed in different colours. There is a toggle switch on the right side of the steering wheel which brings up the song track list on the HUD. You can browse the track list, by highlighting tracks with the toggle switch and select the track by pressing the switch, without taking your eyes off the road for a second and without taking your hands off the wheel. Brilliant! Such a pity though, the HUD display is not visible when you wear polarized sun glasses.

    HUD in action. Taking this picture was quite tricky.
    Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7026.jpg
  2. BiXenon head lamps with the trademark BMW Angel eyes look really cool and do a good job of illuminating the road. LED fog lamps light up the area close to the car and aid visibility. But I wish the car came with the adaptive LED headlamps that come with the new 530d. The xenons do not corner either.

  3. 16 Speaker 600w Harmon Kardon Sound System : This is excusive to the M Sport. The X Line gets a 200W 9 speaker unit instead. The sound quality is excellent and it sounds properly premium. I am not an audiophile and generally like listening to music at low volumes. You can change the sound settings via the iDrive controller. Apart from the regular bass and treble settings, there is a 7 band equalizer to further fine tune the audio. The system also has a logic surround on/off option. Keeping the surround option on just envelopes the car with balanced, clear, high class audio. You can play music from the USB port, bluetooth or store the music in the in built 20 GB hard drive. The disc drive plays DVD video too, but I find it to be of very little utility.

  4. Vairable ratio sport steering: Very useful feature and I think all cars should have it. When you turn the wheel beyond a point, the ratio changes and reduces the no. of turns to lock. This is particularly useful while parking and making those U turns in traffic. I am sure it’ll be of great help when doing hair pin bends on ghats.

  5. Other nifty features include auto hold, hill descent control, DSC, DTC, TPMS, cruise control, auto wipers and auto headlamps. The parking brake is electronic – basically a switch instead of a mechanical lever. There are some things better left mechanical. I never feel comfortable leaving the car after parking as I feel something missing. Its that feeling of engaging the parking brake with your left hand. I have to consciously check to see whether the parking brake is engaged. The good thing is the electronics are programmed in such a way that if the driver opens the door, with seat belt unfastened, the parking brake engages automatically.

  6. Auto Start Stop – Its there to conserve fuel and it works pretty well in the way its programmed. If you are constantly stuck in start stop traffic, the car is smart enough to turn it off on its own or if the battery is not strong enough to support it or say the engine has not reached its optimum temperature, the system remains deactivated. Its only when you stop at signals that it gets activated. But I find it a bit too disturbing. Another problem is that the AC cooling effectiveness drops when the engine is shut down. I feel I am straining the battery too much, constantly cranking the engine and running the AC and entertainment systems off the battery. Its almost become a ritual to turn off the start stop immediately after starting the engine.

  7. Condition based servicing : All BMWs now follow condition based service , where you don’t have fixed service intervals. The car tells you when it needs servicing. Say you drive on really bad and dusty roads, or drive very very aggressively all the time, the car will tell you that you need to service the car a bit earlier than normal. There are sensors that allow for display of oil level and brake pad life on the iDrive.

  8. Navigation : I haven’t used the inbuilt navigation system extensively yet so am not in a position to comment. The graphics are good and the interface responds quickly. The navigation guidance shows on the HUD as well, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. You can also display it on a split screen, so that its still visible even as you try to select a different radio station. The big 10.2” screen really helps.

  9. iDrive with handwriting recognition. This is the latest version of the iDrive where the top portion of the large swivel knob is touch sensitive. You can use the touch screen to input letters to pull up names from your contact list or searching for tracks or artists from the media list or inputting destinations in the navigation menu. You can also use it to move the tab left or right in + and – screens. It works quite well actually. Since ours is a RHD market, this touch pad is on the left, as a result you have to use your left hand to scribble alphabets on it. Right handers may find it a little difficult. It’s a good thing then, that I am left handed . Rear seated passengers get their own remote control.

  10. Panoramic Sunroof : A panoramic sunroof is a must for crossovers like these. Opening it during those early morning drives is heavenly. When closed, it lets in zero light

Missing features
  • No Comfort Access – The car has keyless go. You keep the key in your pocket and press the start stop button for ignition. But to enter the car you need to hit unlock on the key fob. International models get ‘Comfort access’, which means you can enter the car by placing you finger on the request sensor on the handle, with key in pocket. I can’t figure out why such a small feature which involved just a sensor on the handle had to be deleted for India?

  • No Electric Tailgate – BMW website shows this feature under the comfort and functionality tab and also shows a video of a man waving his foot under the rear bumper and opening the electric tailgate. I really assumed the M sport to have this feature. But no, its not there. The boot opens manually like any other hatchback. At this price I think it’s a glaring miss. The recently launched Ford Endeavour at half the price gets this feature. If none of the X3s have this feature, please don’t show it on your website and mislead your customers, BMW!

  • 360 degree cameras. This is another cool feature that displays the full surroundings of the car and makes it very easy to park or pilot the car in tight spaces. This is an optional extra abroad. I guess its wishful thinking hoping to be able to choose from optionals here in India.
  • LED turn indicators – In this segment we do nit pick

Last edited by Santoshbhat : 13th February 2016 at 10:38.
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Old 12th February 2016, 22:45   #6
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Default Ride & Handling

Ride and Handling
The X3 is built on the 3 series platform and being a BMW you kind of expect it to drive well and it does. The handling is very good for an SUV but what is surprising is the ride quality. The car comes with dynamic damper control which, the company claims, keeps adapting to the road conditions constantly with the help of on board computers and electronics. This is different from the selectable driving modes. Say the front wheel goes into a pothole, the system immediately prepares the rear wheel to take on that pothole or say you are driving on a very cobbled stony surface it adapts accordingly. On very bad up and down roads it comes as a pleasant surprise that you are not thrown from left to right, like you would be in tall hatch backs and UVs. I think it’s the dynamic damper control at work here. The M sport’s suspension set up is mechanically the same as the one on the X line. I am happy that it is that way, as I would not want to compromise the ride due to unnecessarily stiff ‘sports’ set ups.

The car’s behaviour changes dramatically with the driving mode that is selected. You can choose between Comfort, Sport, Sport + and Eco Pro via an easily reachable switch on the centre console. You can configure sport via iDrive to alter just the chassis or just the drive train or chassis and drive train together. I have configured Sport to include just the chassis, as you can put the drivetrain into sport by flicking the gear lever into S mode. This allows me to cruise on the highway with a tight suspension and steering, yet keeping the engine in a relaxed state.

The Car rides on 245 50 R18 100W Pirelli Cinturato P7 Run Flats. Though its early to judge the tyres, I think these tyres are biased towards comfort rather than outright grip and performance. The ride is smooth and quiet as of now. These 245/50 18 inchers are not your typical SUV tyres, but compared to the tyres the X3 is shod with in other markets, its got decent amount of sidewall and is a good choice for our roads . Still you can’t be as careless as you would be in a normal SUV. You need to care for those rims and tyres. The 245 section width gives the X3 a good planted ride.

In comfort more the ride is very absorbient, steering is light and the car absorbs road undulations very well and does not transfer it to the occupants. Its only very large craters that give out a thud. BMW has done a very good job with insulation. The cabin is very quiet and road noise hardly filters into the cabin. This give it a very premium and plush ride quality despite RFTs. What helps the ride is that the tyres are not very low profile. If you push the car hard and the road is not flat, you get some amount of body roll and bouncy feeling. Ride is well controlled if you drop your speed, but the soft nature of the car does not encourage you to go faster. In this mode you can still drive fast on a flat straight, but the moment the road ebbs and flows is when you feel you want better handling.

Sport mode is much more usable than one would think. I like to drive in sport mode whenever I am alone in the car, even in the city. It completely transforms the car’s handling capabilities. The suspension stiffens up and the steering tightens up and delivers more feel and gives you tremendous confidence to push the car faster and faster. Body roll is much better controlled, and the car feels light and chuckable. The ride gets a bit harsh if the roads are bad and you are better off shifting into comfort at such time. With passengers on board you have to be careful to not get too excited with rapid bursts of acceleration and quick directional changes as the high G forces can make them quite uncomfortable. The handling still is not as slick or chuckable as a tight sedan, but for a crossover it is right up there. My Laura with Bilstiens and PS3’s was much better during quick lane changes than the tallish X3.

The X Drive gives it plenty of grip and you can probably push it harder than you can imagine, but the body roll just makes you back off a bit as you are always aware of its high center of gravity and mass. Overall the handling is still very predictable and very very good for an SUV.

Eco Pro mode : AKA the dead mode. In this mode its as if the car has been shot with a tranquiliser gun. Everything is toned down. The engine feels dead, the gear box shifts up to very high gears, AC has reduced cooling etc… I have just tried this mode a couple of times for heck of it and I did not like it. I think a good driver can still eek out terrific efficiency (as much as Eco pro) even in comfort mode by coasting as much as possible and using the throttle diligently. I don’t like the idea of the computer limiting my power.

Ground Clearance : The rated ground clearance is 212mm and its more than adequate. You don’t have to worry about tall speed breakers ever. This is one of the main reasons why I went for the X3. Bangalore is famous for its unscientific humps and also other roads that I traverse frequently on have patches that will trouble low slung sedans. My Laura was like a mini SUV, with good GC and a short wheelbase. With cars like the 5 series (low GC and long wheelbase) you need to do some very careful route planning. With the X3 you need not worry. The underbody too is pretty well protected compared to BMW sedans.

Steering feedback : This is my first BMW, a brand that is known for steering feel and feedback. The X3’s steering does live up to my expectations. Its pretty direct and gives you that feeling of connect with the front wheels, which is so important. In sports mode it gets even better. Taking turns with that variable ratio, beauty of a steering wheel is such a pleasure. It allows you to keep both hands on the steering wheel even while making sharp turns.

The X3 is very easy to drive and you never feel the bulk of it while driving. Fantastic frontal visibility light and fast steering and limited body roll (by SUV standards) gives it good agility and manoeuvrability. In contrast when I drove the X5, I could feel its bulk and size. The X3’s turning radius is bit larger than the Laura’s. So making those tight U turns in Bangalore needs a bit more planning.

Brakes :
I haven’t really tested out the brakes. But can tell you that I find them a bit grabby at slow speeds. Probably the brakes need some time to bed in. I’ll put down my thoughts on the brakes after clocking a few thousand more kms.

Last edited by Santoshbhat : 13th February 2016 at 10:45.
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Old 12th February 2016, 22:57   #7
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Default Engine & Gearbox performance

Engine and Gear box performance :

Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport. EDIT: 1 year & 16000 km update-img_7069.jpg

This is our first diesel car. In our family’s history of car ownership this is our tenth car and we’ve only bought petrols till now. We’ve enjoyed great petrol cars like the 65 hp carb Esteem, Palio 1.6, Corolla 1.8 (1st gen), Laura TSI and recently the Polo GT TSI. The Laura TSI was truly special. It was diesel like with its torque and yet was a very very rev happy, silky smooth engine. It was a tough act to follow and I needed something special to replace it. In the Indian market, choice of petrol cars above ₹ 25L is very very limited. Because of market dynamics and the fussy nature of high end petrols, I don’t think its wise to plonk money on big petrols in India. I never usually worry about resale values, but in this segment I can’t overlook the financial impact of low resale of a premium petrol SUV! And its not like I have a choice really.

I had made up my mind that if I was buying a premium German car, it had to have 6 cylinders. GTO’s brilliant 530d thread just reinforced my belief. In the past few years, it was disturbing to see the trend of German car makers focusing on only their entry level 2 litre versions. Rising prices made it difficult for them to price their bigger engine variants competitively I guess. Many models had 3 Litre versions listed only on paper. Even when the F25 LCI came out, BMW skipped the 30d initially. If the 30d wasn’t available on this car, I might well have stuck with my Laura for another couple of years till a worthy successor came along.

The engine in this car is the same as the one in the 530d and the X5. It puts out 258 bhp and a thumping 560nm of max torque from 1500 rpm to 3000 rpm. The engine is very refined for a diesel even from a cold start. There’s hardly any vibration felt inside or on the accelerator pedal. With windows rolled up all you get is a very refined thrum from the front. I have no experience with diesel engines as I haven’t driven diesel cars for extended periods of time. But coming from refined petrol cars, I feel very much at home with this diesel. The engine is fairly rev happy and makes a nice growl when you give it more throttle. I haven’t pushed the car very hard as I want to cross 1500 kms before I strain the engine. I’ve had a few bursts of acceleration and I must say the performance is truly outstanding. The car leaps forward with ferocity the moment you use your right foot generously. Overtaking is just child’s play. The moment you see an opening, give it some throttle and the car leaps forward, no lag whatsoever! The engine is special and I know I have just scratched the surface of its potential upto now.

The M sport gets an 8 Speed ZF Sport Auto Transmission instead of the normal 8 Speed ZF in the 20d X Line. I don’t know whether by ‘Sport’ they mean AT with paddles or the GB shift patterns are also different. The N57 engine and the 8 speed ZF is a dream combination and is one of THE main reasons why I bought this car. Shifts are quick and seamless in lower gears, though upshifts are not DSG quick as this is a single clutch unit, unlike the DSG which is a dual clutch unit. But downshifts are much smoother and you don’t even feel it. Its always in the right gear, rarely hunts for gears and upshifts and downshifts with equal precision and there’s none of those jerky downshifts that are typical with DSGs. Sports mode is a lot more usable than the sports mode on my Polo GT TSI DSG. It does not keep the engine at very high revs unnecessarily, yet delivering the right gears for rapid acceleration.

The joystick like gear lever is electronic too and is wonderfully designed and finished. It is spring loaded, so it returns to the same position whether you move it forward or back. Push it to the left for Sports mode, and from there move it up or down for manual mode. There is a very useful button for park, marked ‘P’ in the upper portion of the gear lever. You press it and it goes into Park irrespective of whether you are in D, R or N. In sports mode, the present gear is displayed in the instrument cluster, like S1, S2 and so on. In D mode this is not displayed. Wonder why? The Polo GT TSI displays current gear even in D . Its always nice to know which gear you are in.

I have done one round trip to Belgaum so far and am blown away by the potent engine and gear box pair. I knew I made the right choice by going for the 30d. I started the journey with a resolution that I will just cruise at ‘saint’ like speeds but gave in to temptation and gave the engine some beans on the six lane stretches. All I can say is that where the Laura starts to run out of breath, this beast has plenty of reserves to keep going faster and faster. Quick Stat : At 140 kph , engine is at 2000 rpm in 8th gear. I am yet to use paddles, but frankly with such a good auto box, paddles have very little utility.

Cruise control was quite a revelation and I was able to use it quite frequently. The moment you set cruise control there is a green dot on the speedometer and the symbol shows up on HUD as well which lets you know that cruise control is active. The moment you touch the brakes it turns amber, meaning its inactive. Hit resume and the car picks up speed, rather quickly at that, to the set speed. There is a rocker switch on the steering wheel. Push it up or down with CC on, and the CC will change the cruising speed accordingly. Push it beyond the resistance point and it jumps in increments of 10kph. Its these little things that make it so special.

The beauty of this engine is that its pretty efficient despite all the power. I am getting about 8-9 kmpl in the city and on the highway drive I got about 11.50 kmpl. That is quite similar to the mileage I used to get with the Laura TSI for the trip. Things will only improve once the engine opens up. It also helps that diesel is cheaper in our country. A trip to Belgaum is now cheaper by about 800 bucks!

That's it for now. I will keep the thread alive with updates as we go along.
Thanks for reading!

Last edited by Santoshbhat : 13th February 2016 at 10:52.
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Old 13th February 2016, 12:57   #8
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Default Re: Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Initial Ownership Section. Thanks for sharing!

Rating thread 5 stars - glad you got the 3.0 . That jewel of an engine will never, ever fail to bring a wide grin to your face.

Wish you many kms of enjoyable driving!
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Old 13th February 2016, 17:30   #9
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Default Re: Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport

Congrats on your new Bimmer. I absolutely love the m-sport bumpers. They completely transform the otherwise plain looking X3 into an absolute head turner in my opinion! I have a question - is there any reason why you didn't pick the ML? I'm pretty sure it is similarly priced and looks like it is a lot larger (never sat in one so I'm basing my opinion completely on how it looks from the outside). I understand why you didn't go for the GLC, and agree with you to some extent, but I'm curious as to why you didn't go for the ML350.
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Old 13th February 2016, 19:13   #10
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Default Re: Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport

Congrats santosh, lovely car you picked up. It was truly a great choice, and good you picked it up quick considering there would be a few months wait for another.

Man I'm jealous of you. The harmon kardon and heads up display are what I really miss on mine. Will have to retrofit the all lcd cluster from the 530d to make up for these

A few points though - The screen is 8.8", the 10.2" comes on the 5, X5, etc.

Also you mentioned you have chosen only chassis to go into sport mode, and that you move the gear lever to the left sometimes. Even if you keep chassis and drivetrain in sport, the drivetrain isn't as aggressive as moving the gear lever to the left. So even if they both switch to sport, then moving the gear lever still makes a difference. This sounds confusing, but hope you've got it.

And sport automatic transmission has a different shift pattern, more sensitive throttle response and faster shifts with no lag as compared to the standard gearbox. Also in manual mode in sport +, the engine will not shift up or down on its on.

Last edited by Akshay1234 : 13th February 2016 at 19:31.
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Old 13th February 2016, 19:20   #11
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Default Re: Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport

Fantastic read in deed. Great review.
Few questions, how much did the dealer haggle finally. Considering this being a gem of a machine and limited in availability.
What about BSI and BMW Secure bits?
Will look forward to the first post ride review. Wish you many happy miles.
Those stock alloys could have been better.
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Old 13th February 2016, 22:12   #12
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Default Re: Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnInternetUser View Post
I understand why you didn't go for the GLC, and agree with you to some extent, but I'm curious as to why you didn't go for the ML350.
The ML is just too big and I am not sure I want to attract that kind of attention. The X3 that way is quite obscure. Besides I was already on a stretched budget. The ML 350 would have easily costed 8 to 10 Lakhs more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by akshay1234 View Post
Congrats santosh, lovely car you picked up. It was truly a great choice, and good you picked it up quick considering there would be a few months wait for another.

Man I'm jealous of you. The harmon kardon and heads up display are what I really miss on mine. Will have to retrofit the all lcd cluster from the 530d to make up for these

A few points though - The screen is 8.8", the 10.2" comes on the 5, X5, etc.

And sport automatic transmission has a different shift pattern, more sensitive throttle response and faster shifts with no lag as compared to the standard gearbox. Also in manual mode in sport +, the engine will not shift up or down on its on.
Thanks man! I can't believe that within 3 weeks of speaking with you, the car was home. It was a stressful 2 week period I tell you. And this car was in stock with them in Bangalore it seems. The sales guys insist this wasn't brought here from Navnit Mumbai.

The spec sheet on the website says iDrive with 25.9 cm screen. Will check with a ruler and update. Its really a lottery with features on these cars. Dealerships are clueless on what is coming with car and what is not. I was hoping the spec sheet on the website was accurate!

Quote:
Originally Posted by akshay1234 View Post
Also you mentioned you have chosen only chassis to go into sport mode, and that you move the gear lever to the left sometimes. Even if you keep chassis and drivetrain in sport, the drivetrain isn't as aggressive as moving the gear lever to the left. So even if they both switch to sport, then moving the gear lever still makes a difference. This sounds confusing, but hope you've got it.

Trust you in these matters. So you're saying Sport mode for the drivetrain via the selectable driving mode switch is milder than slotting the GB into S?

So the drivetrain has three auto modes then
1) Comfort mode - Least aggressive
2) Sport mode via driving mode switch - Moderately aggressive
3) Sport mode by slotting GB into S - Most aggressive

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeamerBoy View Post
Fantastic read in deed. Great review.
Few questions, how much did the dealer haggle finally. Considering this being a gem of a machine and limited in availability.
What about BSI and BMW Secure bits?
Will look forward to the first post ride review. Wish you many happy miles.
Those stock alloys could have been better.
I managed to get about 6.50 lakhs off from the quoted OTR price.
BMW secure is just an add on to the insurance. This is included in the price.
BSI packs have been priced so high that they don't make any sense whatsoever. I was quoted something like 5 Lakhs for 5 year/60,000 kms. The car comes with 2 years unlimited warranty. I plan on getting just the extended warranty for 60 months. Even if each annual service costs me 40K, I can fund it by keeping my 5 lakhs in the bank!
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Old 13th February 2016, 22:45   #13
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Default Re: Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport

Wow, Congrats Santhoshbhat. Wish you many more happy miles ahead. Glad you purchased the 30d which has a stonker of an engine.

Except the 530D, all other car's will be eating your dust
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Old 13th February 2016, 22:59   #14
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Default Re: Power corrupts! My BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport

Quote:
Originally Posted by stanjohn123 View Post
Except the 530D, all other car's will be eating your dust
Not in twisties but definitely in a straight line.

Lovely review! This is probably the most fun to drive SUV out there barring the M cars. Enjoy your miles!
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Old 13th February 2016, 23:11   #15
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Default Re: Interiors

Congrats on the X3! 6 cylinder diesel must be a lot of fun

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santoshbhat View Post
Interiors

The recirculation button has auto and manual modes. I am not sure what auto mode does. Does it let outside air in periodically? or does it leave the vent open and closes it when detects high level of pollutants? I am inclined to think its the former.
I had the same doubt with our Q3. During the last service visit, the service executive told that it leaves the vent open and closes it only when it senses dust or particulate matter. There is no practical way to check this since the filters will anyway keep the dust outside but what I have noticed is that it does not switch to internal recirculation when there is a bad odour from the outside. Of course it cannot sense bad smell. So it does not seem to be a very useful feature, specially in India.
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