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In-depth reviews

BMW X3 SUV review

"The latest BMW X3 blends comfort, technology and real driver appeal in a very well rounded package"

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Excellent handling
  • Plenty of space
  • Range of engines

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Five seats only
  • Tech feeling its age

Verdict - Is the BMW X3 a good car?

Despite launching way back in 2017, the third-generation BMW X3 is still one of the best premium SUVs you can buy. It’s spacious, comfortable and great to drive, and with a range of engines including petrol, diesel, hybrid and fully electric, there should be a model to suit all situations. The on-board tech isn’t the most cutting-edge, admittedly, but there’s a simplicity to its operation that shouldn’t be sniffed at in a world full of touch-sensitive climate controls and autonomous drive functions.

BMW X3 models, specs and alternatives

After the big sales success of the BMW X5, it came as no surprise that a smaller, more affordable model would follow soon after. The BMW X3 has mirrored its bigger brother's popularity since 2003. But while the first generation felt like a bit of a compromise, the latest model is a thoroughly sophisticated car.

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It needs to be. Not only does it have to face the Audi Q5, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Mercedes GLC and Volvo XC60, but also the Jaguar F-Pace, Porsche Macan and Range Rover Velar. Originally launched in 2017, however, the BMW is starting to show its age in places; newer BMWs get dash-spanning single screens and the latest iDrive 8 technology, while the X3 retains much of the same hardware it did when it first went into production.

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That’s not to say it’s anything but competitive, especially when you consider its wide-ranging engine lineup, which consists not only of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid offerings, but also a fully-electric iX3 variant capable of more than 250 miles on a charge. The X3 remains a really easy car to live with, whichever model you pick.

The best 4x4s and SUVs 2023 heroTop 10 best 4x4s and SUVs

Speaking of models, the X3 – as the number might suggest – sits between the smaller X1 and the larger X5; the similarly-sized X4 slotting in between as a coupe version of the X3, available with many of the same trim and engine options.

The X3 is offered in the usual xLine and M Sport trims, with all versions getting LED lights front and rear, an automatic tailgate, three-zone climate control and BMW Live Cockpit Plus with built-in navigation. M Sport costs around £1,800 more and brings larger wheels, different trim and M Sport suspension for a sportier drive.

The 2.0-litre petrol 20i opens the range, with the 20d and 3.0-litre 30d serving diesel tastes – the latter boasting 282bhp. There is also a plug-in hybrid X3 xDrive30e, that'll prove tempting for company car drivers and private buyers alike, thanks to its low emissions and the fact it’s similar in price to the xDrive30d diesel. We've reviewed the all-electric iX3 version separately.

In addition, there are two hot M Performance models – the 335bhp M40d diesel and 355bhp M40i petrol – plus a fire-breathing X3 M with more than 500bhp and a 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds. It’s rapid, but a bit too stiff and compromised for comfortable use on UK roads.

The X3 uses the same mechanical architecture as the BMW 5 Series and an eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard across the range – iX3 excluded. Unlike the smaller X1, every X3 has xDrive four-wheel drive – again, not including the rear-wheel-drive iX3.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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