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Mid-size Premium SUV of the Year 2018: BMW X3

The BMW X3 is the 2018 Auto Express Premium Mid-size SUV of the Year, with the Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC60 commended

More than 1.5 million BMW X3s have been sold since the mid-size premium SUV first went on sale in 2003, but the old Mk2 model was starting to feel its age. This new version is a huge step forward, which is why it takes victory here.

The third-generation X3 is an all-new model based on the brand’s CLAR platform, which it shares with the excellent 5 Series saloon. That’s an extremely strong basis to work from, and the X3 proves itself further with its all-round appeal.

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The package includes xDrive four-wheel drive as standard – there’s no two-wheel-drive option – a range of petrol and diesel engines linked to an eight-speed auto box, and a luxurious, spacious, five-seater interior equipped with BMW’s latest infotainment. Plenty of safety tech is available, too.

M Sport cars feature the BMW Professional Multimedia infotainment, with its slick 10.25-inch widescreen. It’s among the best systems around, with snappy menus and an intuitive interface.

One of the stand-out features of the latest X3 is the extra level of finesse the driving experience provides. Even the entry-level 2.0-litre diesel engine operates with a pleasingly subdued hum, so it’s not intrusive when cruising.

Factor in the general air of refinement and capable handling, and the X3 is a pleasure to drive. The chassis feels nimble and turns into corners neatly, in effect hiding the car’s size.

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The suspension copes well with potholes, giving a good level of ride comfort, too, while at the same time keeping body roll under control. This BMW trait to the driving experience is a key to the X3’s success, as is the even more upmarket, practical interior which means it’ll fit into your life seamlessly. 

Our choice 

BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport (£42,620)

It’s worth picking an X3 in M Sport trim particularly to get the standard 10.25-inch infotainment system. This spec also brings leather upholstery, triple-zone climate control and a sportier cabin feel, plus the 20d powertrain offers all the performance you’ll need.

Commended 

Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar F-Pace - front

The Jaguar F-Pace was our Car of the Year back in 2016, and it’s still a fine premium SUV. It’s spacious, great to drive and has a wide engine range with a choice of two or four-wheel-drive transmissions. Sharp styling, a practical 650-litre boot and plenty of dynamic ability make up for some average cabin quality.

Volvo XC60

Last year the Volvo XC60 won this category, and it remains a top car in this class, thanks to its comfortable ride, individual design and high-quality cabin, which exudes an ultra-refined atmosphere. The car scores strongly on infotainment and safety equipment as well.

Auto Express New Car Awards 2018

For complete, in-depth coverage of the 2018 New Car Awards, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...

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