On the road
The market for high-performance diesel cars is small in Australia, particularly compared with Europe. But they offer performance characteristics that differ greatly from a petrol-powered model.
Alpina has tweaked the 3.0-litre diesel engine from the X3 xDrive 30d, adding a second turbocharger and squeezing an extra 50kW and 80Nm for an output of 245kW/700Nm. Left-hand-drive markets get quad turbochargers and even more power.
From a standing start, the XD3 doesn’t feel as brutally fast as the X3 M, but it’s still very quick. Zero to 100kmh is dispatched in 4.9 seconds – 0.8 seconds slower than the X3 M. The huge well of torque from 1750rpm makes for enthusiastic acceleration, prompting the nose of the car to lift slightly on take-off. The diesel engine has a pleasant note from behind the wheel too.
The torque and power delivery is smooth and there’s plenty of grunt for overtaking. The eight-speed gearbox shifts gears effortlessly, which is typical of BMW transmissions. The steering is alert, offering quick responses to inputs in Comfort mode, but it firms up artificially in the various Sport modes.
For a 2155-kilogram diesel SUV, the XD3 shines on dynamically challenging roads. It stays flat through corners – more so than the X3 M – and hugs corners like a car half its size. It got a little tail-happy on an unsealed section of road but maintained traction on other loose surfaces.
What sets the XD3 apart from other performance SUVs is its supple ride. The suspension and damping tune that the wizards at Alpina developed makes for a comfortable cruiser that glides over potholes and speed bumps, but with the dynamic prowess of a full-bore performance model. Aside from some engine noise, Alpina has done an admirable job of insulating the interior.
Our week of mixed driving ended with a fuel use figure of 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres, not far off Alpina’s 6.4L/100km claim.
The MY-19 evolution of Mazda6 takes this well-respected mid-size model to the next level in terms of quality and refinement, while a new 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, available in the GT and Atenza versions, adds a good dose of strong, flexible performance for everyday drive ease and enjoyment.
These comments are from RACV’s experienced team of vehicle testers.