BMW X3: Tuned diesel build
In Greek mythology, Zeus is considered the protector of the sky and the lord of thunder. In enthusiast circles however, there’s a different Zeus that proceeds to create a roaring thunder, and it’s this tuned BMW X3. And unlike Zeus who might have been feared, there’s no reason for a car nut not to love this souped-up luxury SUV, claimed to be one of the fastest diesel cars in the country. Performance with a blend of practicality? Who doesn’t want that!
Fact is that diesels are no longer taboo in the dictionary of a petrolhead, with oil-burners no longer being the slow-revving unresponsive motors of yore. Diesels are very much relevant especially for those who put
in long distances behind the wheel, and their fun quotient was really amplified when BMW’s oil-burners hit the scene. Because they offer the best of both worlds, efficiency along with that slug of torque that makes driving hard effortless, the ‘d’ suffix on the rear of a Bimmer does not result in baffled eyebrows but rather commands genuine respect amongst enthusiasts. And Vikram Walia’s X3, named Zeus, is definitely a great example of that.
Zeus is claimed to be the one of the fastest diesel builds in the country, and you don’t even have to go by his claims to know that. During the Northern Motorsports Speedfest drag races at the Buddh International Circuit where I saw this SUV in the flesh for the first time, she was hot on the heels of shaming quite a few sports cars, an impressive feat IMHO. Not that you can mistake this for any other run-of-the-mill X3, with its striking appearance that has made it an icon on social media. Vikram, who is no stranger to fast cars, used to drive an M3 before this, and prior to acquiring Zeus, he admits that he had never looked at an X3 before in his life.
But something about this particular X3 spoke to him, when he checked-out this pre-owned example. It made all the right noises, packing in BMW’s 3-litre in-line six under the bonnet, and it had some sought after kit too, namely the M Package that came with adaptive suspension, a head-up display and a Harman Kardon stereo. After driving the SUV for the first time, Vikram was bowled over by the handling and power on offer, but since he didn’t exactly know what he’d do with it, he decided to get this X3 and turn it into a Stage 1 or a Stage 2 build.
Vikram really loves to drive his cars, and I don’t just mean on the weekend to clear the knots in his head, but on long haul pan-India road trips. He casually mentions during our conversation that he just returned from a Mumbai-Hyderabad-Mumbai run not too long ago just to get some additional mods done on one of his other project cars, and he is the last person you would find lining up to catch a flight. Zeus is his means of an escape and the way it devours highways continues to leave Vikram overjoyed. In just two and a half years of ownership, he has managed to clock more than 65,000km behind the wheel. “The best car I have ever owned!” Vikram declares ecstatically. Zeus’ ease of cruising effortlessly is mainly down to the myriad modifications made under the bonnet, done at ModmycarIndia in Mumbai.
Running a Stage 3 tune from Etuners, Zeus’ 3-litre oil-burner produces a claimed 450bhp of power and a monstrous 850Nm of torque. All that additional horsepower is courtesy of an upgraded fuel pump, from an M550d and a Venom Hybrid turbocharger. The engine breathes better too, thanks to a new intercooler coupled with the custom exhaust and a downpipe. The 0-100kmph time is impressive too, clocked at 4.01 seconds!
The setup has been very reliable and Vikram has faced no issues with the X3 whatsoever. Bringing the SUV to a stop are the upgraded brakes with KSport 6-pot piston callipers with the PAGID Racing brake pads. There are subtle upgrades to the interior too, mainly in the form of a carbonfibre steering wheel now with paddle shifters, but that is small fry compared to the radical design of the exteriors.
With its bright red paint job contrasting with the yellow headlamp and fog lamp housings, Zeus is definitely a headturner with its beefy appearance. The 18-inch M Sport alloy wheels amp up the aggression too, as does the lowered stance. At one point, Vikram even had a Vin Diesel decal from Fast and Furious pasted on the driver’s side window ― and the reactions that it received were wild!
Vikram states that when he started with this build, he had no intention of making the X3 the diesel-powered performer that it currently is. Go-faster diesel builds had already gained traction by the time Zeus came on the prowl, but none of them match the performance that this X3 is capable of, with the added bonus of being an excellent highway cruiser. Within Mumbai’s car scene that frequently makes waves on social media, Zeus has become a calling card of sorts for Vikram, who goes by @uksaint on Instagram. Not without reason, because seeing Zeus sprinting past lesser cars is a power trip like no other.