BMW X3 SUV (2010-2017) - Engines, drive & performance

The BMW X3 is almost as much fun to drive as a Porsche Macan

Carbuyer Rating

3.8 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

If you're looking for a fun-to-drive SUV, which doesn't pretend to be particularly good off-road, the BMW X3 is an obvious choice – particularly if you can't afford the admittedly more agile Porsche Macan. No X3 suffers from excessive body lean, although the M Sport versions are undoubtedly the sharpest handlers.

An M Sport model with the Variable Damper Control system combines good handling with comfort very well indeed. The driver can choose between Comfort, Sport and Sport+ settings that progressively add weight to the steering. Comfort feels best of all, with the other settings feeling a little artificial.

BMW X3 diesel engines

If you’re just pootling along, the 20d is powerful enough that you don't really need to work it hard to make progress, so it’ll be more than fast enough for many people. 0-62mph takes 8.1 seconds and X3 20d’s excellent balance of performance and fuel economy makes it our pick of the range.

While no X3 is slow, the 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engines in the 30d and 35d are particularly quick – going from 0-62mph in a very impressive 5.9 and 5.3 seconds respectively. If you're willing to spend that much money, though, the Porsche Macan remains the most fun-to-drive model in the class.

In the larger X5, BMW arguably pioneered the idea of building an SUV specifically for road driving and the X3 has clearly been built in the same mould. Although all X3s come with xDrive four-wheel drive, it would struggle in really tough off-road conditions against rivals such as the Range Rover Evoque.

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    xDrive20i SE 5dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £39,710

Most Economical

  • Name
    xDrive 30e SE 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £48,345

Fastest

  • Name
    xDrive X3 M Competition 5dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £77,145

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