Road tests

BMW X3 M Sport review

The sporty feel of the X3 M Sport package makes it a favourite with buyers

The X3 M Sport trim level is one of the most popular choices for buyers of BMW’s mid-range SUV, and it’s easy to see why. The X3 M Sport spec list includes an array of sporty styling upgrades designed to emphasise the BMW brand’s reputation for dynamic driving machines. The price tag depends which engine you pick, but it’s about £1,500 more than the X3 xLine model, and £2,500 more than the entry level X3 SE.

Apart from badging denoting the work of BMW’s motorsport department, the X3 M Sport package includes subtle bodykit elements designed for greater aerodynamic efficiency, big 20-inch double-spoke alloy wheels with a grey gloss finish, and a rear apron in dark grey. Inside, as well as more M Sport badging, you’ll find supportive leather sports seats with racy contrasting blue stitching, a special leather steering wheel and moody black headlining. You also get the Professional infotainment option thrown in, with a 10.25-inch touchscreen that’s a step up from the 6.5-inch one in the entry-level SE. The M Sport additions are on top of a spec list for the SE that’s already pretty lavish, as it includes triple-zone climate control, sat nav, parking assistance and a reversing camera. The xLine trim is more focused around an off-road look, while buyers who want to push the boat out can spec up to the X3 M40i, which is the range’s performance flagship.

X3 M Sport performance, like the price, depends on which engine you select. The cheapest option is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that's good for 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds and a top speed of 134mph. Economy of 40mpg and CO2 emissions of 163g/km should make it affordable to fill up, but company-car drivers need to factor in a 33% Benefit-in-Kind rate.

The X3 20d M Sport is also a four-cylinder diesel, but with 187bhp, it does 0-62mph in eight seconds dead, while the 261bhp model drops the benchmark sprint to a punchy 5.8 seconds. Economy figures of 56.5 and 49.6mpg respectively equate to 132 and 149g/km of CO2 – and BiK rates of 33 and 36% respectively.

On the road, like its siblings, the X3 M Sport delivers a much more refined and engaging drive than previous X3s. It’s close to the class-leading Jaguar F-Pace in this respect, and not far behind the supple Volvo XC60 for ride quality, either. Owners trading up from the old X3 should be significantly impressed. Off-road, it’s still no Land Rover rival, but should cope with the type of terrain most owners will throw at it.

All models in the newest X3 line-up feature an elegant but somewhat conservative interior with controls laid out in typically exemplary style. It’s as spacious as you'd hope, too, and feels not far off the bigger X5 when you’re sitting inside it, with plenty of room for five adults. There’s no seven-seat option, but the 551-litre boot feels very generous, making the X3 M Sport a supremely practical family choice.

Verdict: 5 / 5

The new BMW X3 is a compelling rival to SUVs like the Audi Q5 and Porsche Macan. It’s technically advanced, practical and efficient, as well as being refined and fun to drive. In M Sport guise especially, it looks the part, too.

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