BMW X3 SUV - Interior & comfort
Beautifully finished BMW X3 interior is comfortable and generously equipped
BMW's latest interior design language is in full effect inside the X3, with a neat, angular style very reminiscent of the current 5 Series. Like the exterior, it's very BMW and resists many concessions to fashion, with its infotainment screen mounted high and contrasting with the present vogue for portrait-orientated screens that extend down into the dash.
Previous X3s were plagued by an over-firm ride, but the latest model is very well composed on rough surfaces. We haven't tried an example without BMW's optional Adaptive M Sport suspension system, but its ability to soak up bumps – even with big 20-inch alloy wheels fitted – make it well worth considering for £750.
Just as impressive is the X3's internal quality. The dashboard is beautifully constructed and free of creaks and groans along bumpy roads. The materials used are top-notch throughout the passenger compartment, being both attractive and soft to touch. Leather is standard across the range, for a heightened impression of luxury, while gloss-black or aluminium touches pepper the interior and provide visual contrast.
BMW X3 dashboard
Rather than simply serving up a mass of hi-tech kit, everything about the X3 dashboard seems thoughtfully considered to be practical rather than maddeningly confusing to use every day.
The instrument cluster, with its digital displays, is clear and informative without resorting to information overload. Thankfully, the central display is close to hand and can be glanced at without your eyes straying from the road for longer than is wise.
Buyers can choose between SE, xLine and M Sport specifications, with the M40d and M40i standing at the top of the range as performance versions. No matter which model you choose, you won't be disappointed by the list of standard equipment on board.
'Vernasca' leather upholstery is provided, as is three-zone climate control and ambient lighting. Sat nav is also present, operated by the iDrive rotary controller, and comes with real-time traffic information. Standard parking assistance and a reversing camera make low-speed manoeuvring easier, meanwhile. BMW's 'remote services' are also standard, enabling owners to check on their vehicle, lock or unlock its doors, set its climate control and even flash the headlights from a smartphone app.
The xLine adds sports seats to the above, together with eye-catching changes to the bumpers and metallic silver side sills, all of which are designed to emphasise the X3's off-road credentials. A special set of 19-inch wheels completes the transformation.
Upgrading to M Sport brings an aerodynamic body kit, a different design of 19-inch wheels and a broader range of paint colours, while the interior is enlivened with a special leather steering wheel, M-specific sports seats and a dark headliner. The 'Professional' Live Cockpit system is standard, too, which adds a 10.25-inch touchscreen, BMW's latest iDrive 7.0 software and the option of gesture control.
M40i and M40d models get further styling upgrades like 20-inch wheels and a pair of rectangular exhaust pipes finished in dark chrome, plus electric memory seats and upgraded LED headlights with high-beam assist.
X3 optional extras include a panoramic sunroof, a Harman Kardon stereo, a full colour head-up display and BMW's digital display key, which lets you control of certain features when you're away from the car, including the auxiliary heating (which is also optional). Apple CarPlay connectivity is included but Android Auto doesn't even appear on the options list. Heated and cooled perforated leather 'climate' front seats are available, as are multi-adjustable comfort seats for passengers in the rear.