The main purpose of the BMW X3 xPlore tour was to give us more insight into the final product consumers purchase from BMW. We got a glimpse of the X Lifestyle Park which opens in November, and got to play in a few of the obstacles the course has to offer, we toured Plant Rosslyn to view the upgrades made and to see first hand, the production line of the new X3. We were given a tour of the brand new training facility and lastly, toured the Bio2Watt plant to find out how they generate renewable energy and in turn feeds 30% of Plant Rosslyn. All that was left to do was drive the locally made product and see how it compared to the ones we drove on the launch, which were fully imported.
BMW had planned a brilliant 2 day road trip which would see us travel through three provinces, on multiple types of surfaces, traversing through some of the best driving roads the country has to offer and not to mention the brilliant scenery along the way. For the trip, we had a choice between 3.0L Diesel or 2.0L Diesel engines to choose from, with the long journey ahead with some days consisting of 600km drives, diesel was the obvious choice for this tour. I'm a massive fan of BMW's diesel engines, light on fuel, plenty of torque, minimal lag and once they get going, there's no stopping them. First up it was a chance to get behind the wheel of the 3.0L, each car was also specc'd differently to the other, displaying some of the differences in styling options for both the interior and exterior of the car. The car came fitting with BMW's 21" multispoke rims which would made things interesting for the gravel roads.
One thing I have to say from the get go, the quality of the product was faultless, in fact if you had to take the locally made X3 and one assembled from another plant, it would be very very difficult to find a difference. So much has gone on behind the scenes to ensure the quality of product being delivered by BMW Group SA is top notch as these cars are to not only supplied to our country but also to most of Europe! The route for the journey encapsulated everything that is to love about our country as we meandered through breathtaking mountain passes and villages, but at the same time making us fall in love with the BMW X3 as it proved to be a match for every terrain, every obstacle that came in its way.
Day two saw us tour through Mpumalanga stopping at some of the popular tourists hotspots, one of them being the Three Rondavels and Blythe River Canyon, place I last visited as a kid a good 20 years ago, so visiting it again brought back some fond memories of my family vacations which harked back to the car. The X3 is the perfect vehicle for family vacations, it's a brilliant drive, very spacious, loads of luggage space and with the wide range of options available to suit anyone's budget and preference. While the price would put some off, you have to realise what you getting for your money is worth every cent, yes there are cheaper options available on the market but with these you getting inferior quality finishes and materials. On the way back we got a pretty basic base model 2.0L diesel and even in this, you cannot distinguished any comprise in quality. While it didn't have any fancy finishes, nor lots of options, it still gave you that premium feel and more importantly, that terrific drive.
Reflecting under the night skies of the Kruger,( where its so clear that you can actually see star belts with your naked eye!) of the past few days on tour, really gives you a sense at how far BMW SA have come, not only as a brand but as a company. Showing faith in our country, investing in it and it's people, and with that return of investment being this quality product. It still amazed me that Plant Rosslyn was BMW's first plant outside of Germany and that's a good heritage to hold, with over a million 3 Series being produced at the plant, I can only look forward to a million X3's running off the line in the near future.