BMW X3 review
The third generation BMW X3 raises its game to take on the likes of the Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC60
The BMW X3 used to sit in a class of its own, but almost two decades after the original car was launched, several quality rivals have arrived to muscle in on the action. Fortunately for BMW the company has responded well to the competition, with the latest version of the X3 improving refinement, ride quality and style. Cutting-edge technology marks it out as one of the best in the business in this area, too.
The latest X3 is practical and spacious, although some people will be disappointed by the lack of a seven-seat option to cater for larger families. There is, at least, a plug-in hybrid option to consider now alongside the petrol and diesel versions of the car not to mention the pure-electric iX3.
About the BMW X3
The BMW X3 was one of the first compact premium SUVs out of the blocks, but the third generation X3 (which uses BMW's internal code of G01) has a tough fight on its hands. That's because it's on sale in a market that has changed beyond recognition from when the original model was launched in 2003.
In the intervening years, rivals have been introduced to challenge BMW's position in the premium SUV sector. Today, there's a real variety in the sector, with cars such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q5, Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Lexus NX, Mercedes GLC, Porsche Macan, Range Rover Velar and Volvo XC60 all battling for sales. Thankfully, the latest X3, introduced at the end of 2017, has stepped up its game and is still a strong contender in the class.
The latest X3 gets a look that's an evolution of what's gone before, but under the skin it's all-new, with running gear borrowed from the BMW 5 Series. All versions come with xDrive four-wheel drive as standard, save for the M40i and M40d models. There's no manual gearbox option either – only six- or eight-speed automatics are offered.
The range comprises xDrive20i, xDrive20d, xDrive30e plug-in hybrid, xDrive30d, M40i and M40d engines. Beyond that BMW also offers the iX3 model as part of its ‘i’ electric car range. The numbers in the model names generally relate to engine size, which means that 20i and 20d models get a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol and diesel respectively, while the 30d gets a 3.0-litre straight-six diesel. Just to confuse things, the M40 models also get 3.0-litre straight-sixes, but with larger power outputs, while the 30e plug-in hybrid uses the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor.
Prices for the X3 start from around £42,000, which means all models cost £465 in road tax for years two-six. The base SE trim is still pretty well equipped, with leather seats, three-zone climate control and a 8.8-inch display on the dashboard with sat-nav, a rear camera and iDrive control wheel all included on the standard kit list.
Moving up the range gets you xLine trim, which adds 19-inch alloy wheels, smarter exterior trim and sports seats inside. M Sport models come with a subtly sporty bodykit and more body coloured trim, plus a sportier cabin with a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen added. At the top of the range, the M40i is considered a standalone model, and comes with a 355bhp twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight-six, priced at £56,480.
Overall, the X3 is still a strong contender in the compact premium SUV class, thanks to its efficient yet powerful engines, spacious interior and involving driving experience.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe third generation BMW X3 raises its game to take on the likes of the Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC60
- 2Engines, performance and driveStrong performance from all engines, and handling that’s close to the best in class
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe BMW X3 isn’t a budget option, but running costs should be as good as rivals
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe sharpened up exterior in the BMW X3 makes for a more premium cabin, with no shortage of tech
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceA premium cabin and lots of space make the BMW X3 both luxurious and useful
- 6Reliability and SafetyTop notch NCAP results, but BMW makes you pay extra for some of the best tech