Road tests

BMW X3

A facelifted X3 keeps BMW's SUV up-to-date against the opposition

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Revisions give the X3 a welcome boost. The 3.0sd is an awesome performer, but is costly and answers a question few have asked. BMW’s baby 4x4 still struggles to convince against cheaper and newer competitors.

Barely a week goes by without yet another small off-roader arriving on the scene. Competition in the compact SUV market has never been so fierce, and to make sure the BMW X3 isn’t left behind by the new Land Rover Freelander, Vauxhall Antara and Honda CR-V, it has been given a much-needed facelift. A larger radiator grille, repositioned foglights and new bumpers mark out the revised car, along with trendy LED-style rear light clusters. Under the bonnet, there are two new petrol engines to choose from – a 2.5si delivering 218bhp and a 272bhp 3.0si – as well as a twin-turbo diesel borrowed from the 535d and 335d, which powers this 3.0sd.

With 580Nm of torque and a slick six-speed automatic gearbox, performance and refinement are outstanding. Yet while the handling is undeniably impressive, the X3 remains a tall off-roader, so sporty fans will probably be disappointed. Push the engine and the quoted 32.5mpg economy will plummet, too. Our model’s 18-inch alloys also harm ride comfort, and while interior quality has been improved, the packaging still disappoints – especially given the hefty £36,415 price tag.

Go for the M Sport and you’ll fork out £38,175, while even the base 2.0 oil-burner is £28,560. Unless outright performance is your top priority, the all-new Free-lander could be worth the wait.

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