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XBimmers | BMW X3 Forum BMW X3/X4 Forums Third Generation BMW X3 (G01) General Forum (2017+) Performance Center Delivery

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      10-13-2018, 09:31 PM   #1
VictorH
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Performance Center Delivery

New to this side of the forum. I have an E90 M3 that I've owned since new and just added '19 M40i X3 on Friday which will be my wife's daily driver.

We did the performance center delivery which if you can swing it is well worth the time. Most of my comments will be regarding the handling and suspension of the X3 as I'm a dedicated track junky and pretty critical of driving dynamics, and delivery has been outlined by others here. Our driving lead, for Friday, was Matt Mullins who I have known for over a decade as well as Mike Renner (did the N-ring with him last Fall), but he was at the Petit Le Mans at Road America on Friday.

The driving part of the delivery is an abbreviated version of the regular classes offered there. I've done every course they offer over the years and the Performance Center is one of the reasons I decided to buy the E90 M3, back in 2009. The driving components are 4; 1) Full ABS braking from 40-55 mph (over and over and over); 2) wet skid pad in an 340i to demonstrate DSC; 3) Handling course; 4) "off-road" course.

Full ABS- nothing to say here, but it's good to practice. Brakes on the X3 are really nice, very linear, nice feel and pretty consistent.

Wet skid pad- Not in our purchase model vehicles. Since Matt knows me a bit we did drifting for a lap and then did the DSC on with accelerator pedal flat. Not too thrilling either but pretty impressive what sensors and software are capable of.

Dry handling course- It's the back "mini-course" which is not terribly long and the speeds are modest but gives you a pretty good sense of the handling. There's a slalom on the initial straight, then a flat-out gradual right hander followed by tight right hand, up the hill with left on the crest of a hill and then flat out again to the braking point for a moderate radius right hander prior to being back on the front straight slalom.
Firstly, for an SUV/SAV vehicle the handling is really outstanding. The car is pretty neutral with a tendency toward mild understeer on the slower corners. If you push hard you can get the rear-end to get a bit loose, particularly at the end of the slalom but overall it's pretty neutral. The grip is really good and the cornering is without much drama and not really that much body lean. The motor of course is really outstanding and the trans works really well with this combination. The performance clearly starts approaching some modestly priced "sports" cars (I'm not talking Porsches, Corvettes or M BMWs).

Suspension- Super compliant and really helps keep the tires planted which helps grip. It's a really nice compromise between road comfort and good handling dynamics. When you push the vehicle you can really feel all the tires working. After I got off the road course (last event for that section) I went to feel the tires. Firstly, the fronts were not hot and the temps front to back felt about equal by feel. Needless to say, if you really over-drive the vehicle you could make the fronts broiling hot, but if you know where the limits are and let the car tell you what it likes, the balance is nice and each of the four corners work equally hard. To me this is the major engineering success of this vehicle, the suspension and dynamics are fantastic. The seats are really good too, didn't think once, I have to brace myself with my left knee of hold the wheel to keep me in place.

So, what's the downside? The steering is absolutely numb. No road feel whatsoever. It still works okay, and I've driven enough cars with no road feel that it's not a big deal. However, I like to feel the grain of the road through the wheel and better yet, I like to feel the motor at idle. In the M40i, via the steering wheel, nothing doing. It still works fine, but don't expect much in the way of feedback through the wheel. At the limit of adhesion you will feel the effort get a bit light, but that's about all your going to get. Not a huge deal, but I'd like a bit more feedback.

Overall, if you have the opportunity to drive this car at its limits it's really pretty incredible for a 4 door, big cargo area vehicle that's totally mild-mannered on the street and actually very nice to drive. Went to Greenville, Fall Food event downtown and used the self-park feature to parallel park between two cars. Worked effortless and pretty impressive, but that's all about sensors and software.
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      10-13-2018, 11:43 PM   #2
yllwwgn
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Cool feedback, and confirms that our vehicles are pretty fantastic considering the packaging of an SUV. An M3 they are not, but considering the ride height, weight, and AWD, probably more capable than most folks will explore on the street
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      10-14-2018, 08:06 AM   #3
VictorH
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Thanks, yes the thing is this car would be really fun on a twisty back-country road or going up a mountain pass. Doesn't look like it should be from the outside but once you're in and driving you forget all that.
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      10-14-2018, 08:21 AM   #4
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You know, I tend to judge steering feel by rotational feedback -- resistance to input, rate of response versus input, etc -- and don't really care about vibrations coming up from the road or engine. Modern cars have such good isolation of the steering rack and suspension components that it's rare to feel non-rotational jitters coming up through the wheel unless the rest of the car is super stiff and/or the steering bushings are very hard. Add to that electric power steering, which can also decouple some feel. So I'd say for a vehicle like the M40i, the feel is about normal but on the better side for a recent model BMW.

You want to experience numb steering in a BMW? Try the F3x generation of 3- and 4-series vehicles, especially before the 2018 LCI. The steering was completely emotionless. Hardly any rotational feedback, and very sterile feeling. It improved a bit with the 2018 LCI, and I had a 2018 F32 coupe with M-sport that had very accurate, surgical steering feel. But the lack of feedback was horrible, and very out of character for BMW. They have been building up to that with several models in recent years, with both steering and suspension -- may as well have been a Camry as far as I was concerned. I was thrilled that the G01 X3 takes us back to classic BMW feel, and from what I hear, the new G20 cars get it back too.
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