Not So Smart Sport Mode - 2012 BMW X3 Long-Term Road Test

2012 BMW X3 Long Term Road Test

2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i: Not So Smart Sport Mode

January 2, 2013

2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i

I've driven our 2012 BMW X3 xDrive35i maybe once or twice during its entire run here. Why? Because the staffers like it so much that it's constantly spoken for. Despite that cumbersome name.

As good as the X3 is, I did find something rather odd as I was driving home last night. It locks itself out of top gear (8th) when you have it in Drive/Sport mode — that's when you move the console shift lever to the left and it says "S1, S2, S3" etc. on the instrument panel as the transmission goes through the gears. So the highest it goes is S7, no matter how fast you're going.

DS is still a fully automatic mode, but responses are quicker, it upshifts at higher rpm, downshifts sooner and more aggressively.

Because it responds better in DS, I'd like to keep it there most of the time, even at elevated speeds on the highway. No matter what time of the night it is, L.A. is always thick with traffic. So it helps to have a quick-reacting transmission when making moves around slower cars, especially those annoying left-lane hogs.

So, yeah, locking the tranny out of S8 seems a silly move by BMW to me.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 22,386 miles

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