Used BMW X3 review
A full used buyer’s guide on the BMW X3 covering the X3 Mk2 (2010-2017)
With the X3 Mk2 not featuring any petrol engines, the used market will be a little bit more limited in the future, as people turn their back on diesel. But for now, in a car of this size, diesel still makes the most sense; and once you’ve driven the X3, you’ll see why shunning the fuel might be a hasty move for some. Offering the class, poise, build quality and efficiency of its X5 big brother, this car isn’t perfect, but it scores very highly in all the areas that matter. That’s with the exception of running costs; like all BMWs, this is a premium product and unfortunately you have to pay accordingly.
BMW’s first SUV was the multi-talented X5, which went on sale in 2000. Like everyone who drove it, we reckoned the car set a new standard in the class, so when a smaller SUV arrived four years later we expected great things.
We were disappointed, though, because while the X3 was good to drive, the rest of the package wasn’t up to BMW’s reputation. Thankfully, the firm saw the error of its ways when it unleashed a new X3 in 2010, with a car that looked far more attractive, plus boasted a more upmarket and less cramped cabin.
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It may have arrived a decade after the original X5 (which by this time had been replaced), but the X3 Mk2 was a class act – and it still is.
- • BMW X3 Mk2 (2010-2017) - Premium SUV is a tempting choice if you can handle the running costs.
BMW X3 Mk2
The X3 Mk2, codenamed F25, went on sale in November 2010 in 2.0-litre xDrive20d form only. At first only SE trim was offered, but four months later an M Sport option was introduced. From August 2011 there were two 3.0-litre six-cylinder options: the 258bhp xDrive30d and the 313bhp xDrive35d, the latter capable of 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds.
A year later the entry-level 143bhp X3 sDrive18d joined the range. A facelift in spring 2014 introduced an updated exterior, extra standard equipment plus a more efficient engine line-up; at the same time, three new trim levels were offered. SE Plus and xLine sat between SE and M Sport, while an M Sport Plus variant was at the top of the range.
BMW X3 reviews
Which one should I buy?
Although there were petrol engines for Europe, they didn’t come to the UK, so your choice is between 2.0-litre four-cylinder or 3.0 six-cylinder diesels; both are excellent. The six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic boxes are also superb, so neither should be avoided.
Entry-level SE trim features 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a 6.5-inch display, leather trim, multifunction steering wheel, automatic lights and wipers, plus parking sensors all round. M Sport adds sports seats, sports suspension, sportier trim and 18-inch wheels.
SE Plus offers an upgraded hi-fi and adaptive lighting, xLine features sportier trim details and upgraded leather, while M Sport Plus models boast xenon lights, 20-inch rims and an even better stereo.
Facelifted X3 SEs also have heated front seats, nav and an auto tailgate.
Alternatives to the BMW X3 Mk2
The X3’s closest rival is the Audi Q5, with its discreet styling, solid build quality, efficient engines and superb cabin.
Most of these attributes are shared by the Volvo XC60 as well; this is arguably the safest contender in the segment and offers good value.
If you want more car for your money take a look at the Volkswagen Tiguan, which is very sober with its design inside and out; but there’s no denying it’s very good at what it does, just like the Land Rover Freelander.
What to look for:
Know what you’re buying. sDrive denotes rear-wheel drive, xDrive means 4WD, but sDrive18d is the only two-wheel-drive car.
Creaks and rattles are surprisingly common. The tailgate, seats, parcel shelf and doors can all exhibit these traits.
The factory-fit sat-nav isn’t great, and map updates can be hard to come by, but they are out there if you search around.
The wing mirrors provide excellent visibility, but they produce a fair amount of wind noise at motorway speeds.
Cabin is typical BMW, so it’s conservatively designed but made from high-quality materials, is superbly constructed and has very user-friendly ergonomics. The seats are supportive and there’s lots of head and legroom for passengers in the rear. Boot space is excellent, too; you can stow 550 litres with the seats up, or 1,600 litres when they’re folded.
All X3 Mk2s have variable servicing, so the car flags up when attention is needed, allowing up to two years or 18,000 miles between check-ups. The system takes the condition of a wide range of maintenance items into account, but only those parts that need replacing will be renewed, so no two service costs are the same.
An oil change for a 2.0-litre costs £140, a fresh filter at the same time is £169, while it’s £375 for this with a new air and fuel filter; add around 10 per cent for a 3.0-litre. There are no cambelts to change, but fresh brake fluid is needed every two years, at £61.
The X3 Mk2 has been recalled three times, the first in July 2014 for cars made to the end of November 2011. These could suffer variable valve timing glitches, causing the engine to go into limp-home mode.
Loose ISOFIX mounts on cars built up to April 2016 led to a campaign in June that year. In December 2016 power steering faults on X3s built from September 2011 to December 2015 prompted the most recent action.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
A ranking of 24th in our Driver Power 2017 used car satisfaction survey is a good result for the X3. Owners give it the thumbs up for its engine and gearbox, plus the quality of the interior. The infotainment and handling score well, too, but running costs let the SUV down, while reliability is more of a bugbear than it should be.