In-depth reviews

BMW X3 review

The third generation BMW X3 raises its game to take on the likes of the Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC60

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£40,340 to £85,645
  • Involving handling
  • Spacious packaging
  • Premium interior
  • Pricey compared to some
  • Only five seats
  • No 2WD sDrive version

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.

For an alternative review of the latest BMW X3 SUV visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk

Next Steps

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    xDrive20i SE 5dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £40,340

Most Economical

  • Name
    xDrive20d MHT SE 5dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £41,620

Fastest

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

More on X3

Best SUVs to buy 2021
Best suvs
SUVs
4 Jan 2021

Best SUVs to buy 2021

We name the top 10 best SUVs and 4x4s you can buy on the new car market today
New BMW X3 xDrive30e 2020 review
BMW X3 xDrive30e - front tracking
BMW X3 SUV
3 Jan 2021

New BMW X3 xDrive30e 2020 review

The BMW X3 xDrive30e plug-in petrol SUV offers plenty of financial benefits
Best new cars coming in 2021
Best cars & vans
14 Dec 2020

Best new cars coming in 2021

From electric cars to supercars, this is our list of the best new cars coming in 2021
New BMW iX3 2020 review
BMW iX3
14 Dec 2020

New BMW iX3 2020 review

The new all-electric BMW iX3 has arrived to rival the Mercedes EQC, Audi e-tron and Jaguar I-Pace
New 2021 BMW iX3 electric car on sale in the UK from £61,900
BMW iX3
16 Sep 2020

New 2021 BMW iX3 electric car on sale in the UK from £61,900

The pure-electric BMW iX3 SUV is available to order now, with prices starting from just under £62k and rising to almost £65k
Land Rover Discovery Sport vs BMW X3 vs Volvo XC60
Land Rover Discovery Sport, BMW X3, Volvo XC60 - group
Land Rover Discovery Sport
21 Dec 2019

Land Rover Discovery Sport vs BMW X3 vs Volvo XC60

New Land Rover Discovery Sport, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 aim to bridge the gap between rugged 4x4 and comfortable road car
BMW X3 vs Mercedes GLC
BMW X3
7 Dec 2019

BMW X3 vs Mercedes GLC

The revised Mercedes GLC is drawn against the class-leading BMW X3 in this premium SUV battle
BMW X3 M vs Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
BMW X3 M vs Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
BMW X3
11 Nov 2019

BMW X3 M vs Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Can the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio fend off the new BMW X3 M in this hot SUV showdown?
New BMW X3 M 2019 review
BMW X3 M Competition - front
BMW X3 SUV
17 Jun 2019

New BMW X3 M 2019 review

Is the new 503bhp BMW X3 M Competition a serious rival for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and Mercedes-AMG GLC 63? We find out...
M Performance parts for new BMW X3 and X4 M revealed
BMW X3 M with M Performance parts - front static
BMW X4
3 Jun 2019

M Performance parts for new BMW X3 and X4 M revealed

Hot BMW X3 & X4 M SUV duo now available with a selection of sporty styling parts from M Performance
New BMW X3M and X4M revealed at Shanghai Motor Show
BMW X3 M - Shanghai
BMW X3
16 Apr 2019

New BMW X3M and X4M revealed at Shanghai Motor Show

New BMW X3M and X4M have public debut at Shanghai, both featuring a 506bhp straight six plus chassis tweaks and styling upgrades
New BMW X3 M: first images and details revealed
BMW X3 M Performance - front
BMW X3
10 Sep 2018

New BMW X3 M: first images and details revealed

A hot version of BMW's new mid-sized X3 SUV is on the way with a six-cylinder twin-turbo engine and 4WD
New BMW X3 M40i 2018 review
BMW X3 M40i - front
BMW X3 SUV
24 May 2018

New BMW X3 M40i 2018 review

The all-new BMW X3 M40i SUV offers a compelling blend of driving agility and strong practicality
Used BMW X3 review
Used BMW X3 - front
BMW X3 SUV
20 Apr 2018

Used BMW X3 review

A full used buyer’s guide on the BMW X3 covering the X3 Mk2 (2010-2017)
New BMW X3 2017 review
BMW X3 - front
BMW X3 SUV
8 Nov 2017

New BMW X3 2017 review

Can the all-new BMW X3 rise to the top of the highly-competitive luxury mid-size SUV class? We find out...
New 2017 BMW X3 SUV: details, prices and pics
New BMW X3 - front
BMW X3
26 Jun 2017

New 2017 BMW X3 SUV: details, prices and pics

The new BMW X3 mid-size SUV has an evolutionary look, but it’s all change under the skin
BMW X3 (2010-2017) review
BMW X3 front cornering
BMW X3 SUV
5 Apr 2017

BMW X3 (2010-2017) review

The BMW X3 is a competent and practical SUV, but it’s getting on and faces ever-tougher competition
Confirmed: all-electric BMW X3 SUV and MINI EV models by 2020
BMW X3 - front cornering
BMW X3
4 Nov 2016

Confirmed: all-electric BMW X3 SUV and MINI EV models by 2020

BMW's financial report has confirmed plans for an all-electric BMW X3 as well as a plug-in MINI by 2020
Jaguar F-Pace vs Land Rover Discovery Sport vs BMW X3
Jaguar F-Pace vs Land Rover Discovery Sport vs BMW X3 - header
Jaguar F-Pace
29 Jul 2016

Jaguar F-Pace vs Land Rover Discovery Sport vs BMW X3

Is the Jaguar F-Pace good enough to go top of the SUV class? We pitch it against the Land Rover Discovery Sport and BMW X3
Land Rover Discovery Sport vs BMW X3 & Hyundai Santa Fe
Land Rover Discovery Sport
9 Mar 2015

Land Rover Discovery Sport vs BMW X3 & Hyundai Santa Fe

New Freelander-replacing Discovery Sport takes on BMW and Hyundai
BMW X3 diesel review
BMW X3 front cornering
BMW X3 SUV
29 Oct 2014

BMW X3 diesel review

We drive the updated BMW X3 in entry-level sDrive 18d guise. Is it any good?
Lexus NX vs BMW X3
Lexus NX vs BMW X3
Lexus NX
21 Oct 2014

Lexus NX vs BMW X3

Lexus is looking to conquer the compact SUV class with its new NX 300h hybrid. We see how it fares against BMW’s recently revised X3
New BMW X3 2014 review
BMW X3 SUV
19 Sep 2014

New BMW X3 2014 review

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