Price  £33,945 - £46,045


reviewed by Carbuyer

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

At a glance

The greenest
xDrive20d M Sport Auto 5dr £38,590
The cheapest
xDrive20d SE 5dr £33,945
The fastest
xDrive35d M Sport 5dr £46,045
Top of the range
xDrive35d M Sport 5dr £46,045

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

The BMW X3 is a mid-sized SUV that competes with the likes of the popular Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC and Lexus NX. As the name suggests, the X3 sits between the smaller BMW X1 and larger X5 in the range. Despite four-wheel drive being available across the range, the X3 is much better suited to driving on the road and is, in fact, one of the best to drive in its class.

One the outside, the X3 is clearly a BMW with the double kidney grilles and trademark running lights at the front. If you want something a bit more rakish, the BMW X4 coupe-SUV is based on the X3 but sacrifices a bit of practicality for a more coupe-like roofline. 

Inside, the interior is solid and well screwed together, if a little dated compared to both newer cars in the BMW range and some of its rivals. However, it makes up for these shortfalls when you get behind the wheel as it boasts a comfortable ride and sharp steering. It can’t quite match the Porsche Macan, but that costs a lot more to buy. 


There's a choice of powerful and efficient diesel engines in the X3. The most popular engine is the xDrive20d, a 2.0-litre diesel engine with 187bhp and it provides plenty of power and is reasonably cheap to run. It's also quiet on the move and is our pick of the range. 

If you want a bit more power, the xDrive30d and 35d models provide similar performance to that of the Porsche Macan, but for much less money. The eight-speed automatic transmission in all models is very slick and smooth. There are paddles on the steering wheel if you want to be a bit more involved and change gear yourself, too. 

The X3 is available in three trim levels – SE, xLine and M Sport. The range kicks off with SE that comes with air-con, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and heated seats. If you choose the great automatic gearbox and adaptive suspension, you’ll want for very little, which means you can avoid paying over the odds ticking other things on the extensive (and expensive) options list. Buyers after a more connected driving experience can even order their X3 with wireless phone charging and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The BMW X3 makes a great family car – practicality is up there with the best thanks to a good amount of space for both front and rear passengers, plus the boot is around 70 litres larger than the 3 Series saloon. Standard four-wheel drive makes it a good tow car, too. 

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 
4.4 /5 based on 88 reviews
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
23 Nov 2015
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