Do you know why Mount Everest is the tallest peak in the world? Because there are peaks that are shorter than Everest. For the same obvious reason, I am considered to be on the ‘heavy side’ because there are a lot of people around me who are on the ‘lighter side’. In short, one cannot exist without the other. Life, dear reader, is all about comparisons; while it is nice to be the tallest peak in the world, it is not so nice to be considered on the ‘heavy side’. Trust me.
The poor BMW X3. From the day it was conceived, it was considered an inferior being to the X5 which, let me add, is on the ‘heavy side’ as far as SUVs go. But the world never had any problems with the big X5 – actually, they loved it, lapped it up in large numbers and gave it an iconic status too. BMW, meanwhile, decided that the X3 was not worthy of being built alongside sporty Beemers in Germany and not even with the lumpy X5 in America – instead they chose the Steyr factory in Graz, Austria, to build it. That was almost five years back. Today, the X3 has proven its cred and is considered a worthy alternative to scores of soft-roaders that populate roads the world over. And let me tell you, in the world of brawny 4x4s, soft-roader is a word that has very dismissive undercurrents.
Picture a Honda CR-V, bring in a bit more solidity to its build, add some nice textures and surfaces, and lastly, plonk inside a BMW powerplant which has sinned in its last life so badly that it cannot power a sports-car, and you get the X3. And that, of course, is a big compliment to the CR-V, which in its new iteration has been selling so well that it got to be subsidising the Japanese firm’s lacklustre F1 efforts this year. If you are buying a CR-V in the UK, you end up spending just about 4,000 pounds over the price of a similar spec X3 – alas, despite both being imports, in India you need to pay almost double the money. While Honda cannot import enough CR-Vs, which retail for a not-so-low Rs 22 lakh, paying Rs 42 lakh for an X3 (ex-showroom, Mumbai) seems a bit odd. That kind of money can buy you genuine 4x4 hardware like a Toyota Land Cruiser or a Mitsubishi Montero. But then, they are not BMWs. The X3 was conceived to play second fiddle all right, but it was well thought-out the way Munich handles their cars. They ensured that it is smaller every which way you look at it, but also made sure it went around corners well and could handle powerful petrol and diesel engines. But where they got a bit carried away was on the design front.