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In-depth reviews

BMW X3 SUV - Interior & comfort

The X3’s interior is beautifully finished, but newer BMWs have the edge when it comes to technology

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Interior & comfort Rating

4.5 out of 5

When it launched, the BMW X3 represented the leading-edge of the brand’s interior technology. However, as time has progressed newer models have cast shade on the mid-size SUV; the latest X1, i4 and iX all get a single-pane infotainment system that spans more than half the dashboard – making the X3’s twin-screen layout look dated and a little behind the times.

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That’s not to say it isn’t still a fantastic setup. BMW’s older iDrive system was often cited as the benchmark for in-car connectivity, so to suggest the X3’s screens are anything but fantastically easy to use and packed with features would be selling it short. It just doesn’t have the wow factor of the latest portrait touchscreens and full-colour head-up displays offered by some rivals. 

Quality, however, is excellent. 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 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display uses BMW's seventh-generation software as standard. Better still, if you don’t want to use the touchscreen, BMW still offers its excellent centre console-mounted clickwheel, which makes navigating the various infotainment menus a doddle.

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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.

Equipment

Buyers can choose between 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.

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Faux 'Sensatec' leather upholstery is provided, as is three-zone climate control, ambient lighting and a powered bootlid. All cars now come with BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional, which comprises two 12.3-inch screens – one for the digital instrument cluster and another for the central infotainment display. Sat-nav is present, operated either via the touchscreen or by the iDrive rotary controller, and comes with real-time traffic information. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included, allowing owners to utilise a handful of smartphone functions while driving. 

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. This function will be particularly handy for PHEV and EV drivers, who can monitor their car’s range and charging from the comfort of their sofa.

Options

X3 optional extras include a panoramic sunroof, a Harman Kardon stereo, a full colour head-up display and a wireless charging pad. There are also a variety of option packs available, including a Comfort pack which adds a heated steering wheel, reclining rear seats, keyless access and extended storage, consisting of handy luggage nets and rails in the boot. The Technology Plus Pack adds gesture control, Parking Assistant Plus and the Drive Recorder system, which can store footage from the car's cameras if there's an incident. Heated and cooled perforated leather 'climate' front seats are available, as are multi-adjustable comfort seats for passengers in the rear.

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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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