New BMW X3 2014 review

19 Sep, 2014 3:30pm Jack Rix

Mid-life facelift gives premium SUV a new lease of life


The BMW X3 really didn’t need many changes, which is why BMW has kept the facelift quite light. The new 2.0-litre diesel engine, which will eventually roll out across the rest of the range, is a big improvement, though. It’s smooth, quiet and punchy with class-leading economy – and we can easily see why 80 per cent of customers are expected to go for it. The Porsche Macan is still a far sharper machine to drive, but as a comfortable, spacious and cheap-to-run family SUV, the X3 is hard to fault.

The BMW X3 has always been an excellent mid-sized premium SUV, so this mild mid-life update was all it needed to stay fresh. A few visual tweaks to the front – most importantly new lights – bring the car’s external appearance closer to that of the X5, and it’s definitely an improvement.

BMW has focused on improving the X3's economy, refinement and kit levels, and a major talking point is the new 2.0-litre diesel engine.

Power has been increased by 7bhp to 188bhp and torque by 20Nm to 400Nm. The result is 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds – an improvement of four-tenths – while the optional eight-speed auto boosts economy by seven per cent to 54.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 138g/km. That’s 6.4mpg and 16g/km better than the 175bhp Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro SE.

BMW X3 20d 2014 rear

Sacrifice 4WD (standard on the 20d, 30d and 35d), and the rear-drive 148bhp sDrive 18d goes one better, delivering best-in-range economy at 60.1mpg, and emitting emissions of 124g/km.

The big difference, though, is much-improved refinement. The previous four-cylinder diesel sounded as if it was running on gravel, but the new unit is much smoother, and far more in keeping with what you’d expect from a premium SUV.

Noise isolation is now on a par with Audi’s, and makes Mercedes’ equivalent 2.1-litre diesel seem rough. Twinned with the optional eight-speed auto, it’s happy ticking along in self-shifting mode. Take control with the paddles and there’s just enough excitement to remind you this is a BMW.

The suspension and steering have been left alone, so the X3 tackles bends just as precisely as the previous car and makes the most of its high ground clearance with a wonderfully supple ride. The sharp steering weights up through the four driving modes, and despite a fair bit of body roll on turn-in the car always sticks to the line like glue.

BMW X3 20d 2014 interior

There was little wrong with the way the X3 looked before, but the facelift brings a little nip and tuck nonetheless. There are twin circular headlights, reshaped bumpers and LED indicators in the wing mirrors, while inside are new cup-holders, a piano black centre console and more trim colours.

Inside, the differences amount to piano black trim on the centre console and some new cup-holders. The X3 does get more standard kit than before, though. As well as the leather interior, dual-zone climate control, cruise control and DAB digital radio, there’s now an automatic tailgate, heated front seats and sat-nav.

Hardly revolutionary, but it’s worth noting the X3 has loads of rear space, plus a 550-litre boot that expands to 1,600 litres via the 40:20:40 split-folding seats – sitting between Land Rover’s larger Freelander and Audi’s smaller Q5

However, customer demands for the latest tech mean you can now order the X3 with a Driving Assistant Plus package, including lane departure warning and active cruise control with Stop & Go.

The X3 range remains largely the same, which means it’s still a spacious, fine-handling and comfortable off-roader. Larger-engine variants are priced too close to the Porsche Macan, but in 20d guise the X3 makes perfect sense.

Disqus - noscript

Its not class leading economy, the 2wd Volvo XC60 D4 181bhp is more powerful, has better MPG and lower emissions than the SDrive 18D X3.

That's Autoexpress reading too much of BMWs marketing bullsh**!

AE were referring to the new 2.0 diesel with 188bhp when they said class-leading economy. Not the SDrive 18D.

the SDrive 18D is the same engine detuned.

So detuned to a different class of car. One that targets low tax rather than performance.

Which person here thinks that volvo can make better more efficient engines than BMW has history not told you anything regarding BMW and engines.

Yes history has told me the are not as reliable or as good as they claim to be.. BMW fans just think they are. Volvos new range of diesel engines are better than BMWs live with it

The XC60 2WD D4 produces 117g/km CO2 compared to 124g/km for the 18D SDrive, so you have just lost your argument..

X3 20 d is AWD. The same Volvo XC60 AWD with less power (181 vs 190) produces 169g/km. BWM is far better with 131g/km

BMW X3 20 d AWD (2.0 liters) automatic gearbox: 190bhp - 131g/km, 0-100km/h=8.1s
Volvo XC60 D4 AWD (2.4 liters) automatic gearbox:181 bhp - 169g/km, 0-100km/h=10.2s. Bye-bye ;-)

Key specs

  • Model: BMW X3 20d M Sport
  • Price: £38,645
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
  • Power: 188bhp
  • Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 130mph
  • Economy/CO2: 54.3mpg/138g/km
  • On sale: Now