Review

BMW X3 SUV

Price  £33,295 - £45,695

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 £36,295
The cheapest
xDrive20d SE 5dr £33,295
The fastest
xDrive35d M Sport 5dr £45,695
Top of the range
xDrive35d M Sport 5dr £45,695

"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's more at home on the tarmac than it is off-road, despite most models having four-wheel drive.

It offers a nice interior, smooth engines, and thanks to sharp steering and a well-judged suspension setup, it is more fun than most of its rivals. That said, it can’t compete with the Porsche Macan for out-and-out driving thrills, but the BMW is far cheaper.

It's a closer rival for models such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport, Lexus NX, Range Rover Evoque and Audi Q5.

The 30d and 35d offer similar performance to the Macan, but with impressively low running costs. Lower down the range, the 20d's 2.0-litre diesel has been made quieter and more powerful – making it the best all-rounder in the range.

If you don’t plan to take the X3 off-road and are willing to sacrifice some performance, then the sDrive 18d is also perfectly good. We drove it in the wet, and despite not having four-wheel drive, the rear tyres had plenty of grip, and it felt just as sure-footed and grippy in the corners as the more expensive and less efficient xDrive models – while being capable of more than 60mpg.

The BMW X3 can now be specified in xLine trim, which joins the existing line-up of SE and M Sport models.

As an upmarket (and expensive) mid-sized SUV, even the basic BMW X3 SE comes with plenty of standard equipment. The kit list includes 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats and a Bluetooth hands-free phone system. Add the excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox and adaptive dampers and you’ll want for nothing.

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 
13 Jan 2015
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