Review

BMW X3 SUV

Price  £33,795 - £45,895

BMW X3 SUV

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Fun to drive
  • Smooth 2.0-litre diesel engine
  • Spacious and well made interior
Cons
  • Options are expensive
  • Dashboard is a bit dated
  • Transmission tunnel eats into legroom

At a glance

The greenest
xDrive20d M Sport 5dr £36,795
The cheapest
xDrive20d SE 5dr £33,795
The fastest
xDrive35d M Sport 5dr £45,895
Top of the range
xDrive35d M Sport 5dr £45,895

"The BMW X3 brings the quality and luxury of a more upmarket SUV to the compact class."

The BMW X3 is the German brand's mid-size SUV that's better suited to road driving than the rough stuff, even if most models have four-wheel-drive.

The X3 has a well-built interior, slick engines and it's more fun to drive than most of its rivals, thanks to a well-balanced suspension system and crisp steering. That said, it can’t quite keep up with the likes of the Porsche Macan for driving enjoyment, but the BMW is significantly less expensive. It's a closer rival to the Land Rover Discovery Sport, along with the Audi Q5, Lexus NX and Range Rover Evoque.

The 30d and 35d offer similar performance to the Macan, but feature cheaper running costs overall. The smaller 2.0-litre diesel seen in the 20d has recently been revised, so it's more powerful and much quieter – so we think that it's the best all-rounder in the current line-up.

If you’re planning to drive the X3 exclusively on-road and are happy to compromise on less performance, the sDrive 18d will do the job just fine. We drove it in the wet, and even though it didn’t have four-wheel-drive, the rear tyres had plenty of grip and it felt just as sure-footed in the bends as the pricier xDrive models – while producing a fuel economy figure of more than 60mpg.

The BMW X3 can now be had in xLine trim, which joins the existing SE and M Sport trim levels.

Despite being an upmarket (and expensive) mid-sized SUV, even the basic SE trim has plenty of kit as standard. Air-conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, all-round parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity and heated front seats are all thrown in. Spec the brilliant eight-speed automatic gearbox and adaptive dampers and you’ll need very little else.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.5 / 5

The BMW X3 has low running costs for a car of its type

Engines, drive & performance

3.8 / 5

The BMW X3 is almost as much fun to drive as a Porsche Macan

Interior & comfort

3.8 / 5

The new diesel engine fitted to the BMW X3 20d is quieter than the old version

Practicality & boot space

3.5 / 5

The BMW X3 has more interior space and a bigger boot than the 3 Series saloon, while four-wheel drive makes it a strong tow car

Reliability & safety

4 / 5

The BMW X3 has performed exceptionally well in our customer satisfaction survey and we expect the revised model to do the same

What the others say

4.2 / 5
based on 3 reviews
4 / 5
"A stylish but less controversial design language is taking shape at BMW and the X3 is cut from the same cloth. Sharp edges and acute angles have been replaced by sculpted contours in the bonnet and doors. While the last car's proportions looked awkward, the new X3 is more elegant."
3.5 / 5
"The X3 betters its closest rivals – the Audi Q5, Land Rover Freelander and Volvo XC60 – on a couple of levels, namely dynamics and running costs. 50.4mpg and 149g/km (£125 a year tax) compare to class averages of 45mph and 160g/km+ (£155+). If you don’t need off-road ability, though, a BMW 520d Touring is better looking, just as practical and cleaner, too."
5 / 5
"The X3 is an excellent compact 4x4 because it's classy, practical and good to drive. The engine is very efficient, too, and standard kit pretty generous."
What owners say 
4.3755813953488
4.4 /5 based on 86 reviews
80%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
19 May 2015
Own this car? Leave your review.