BMW X3 4x4 full 9 point review
Only diesel power is offered. The two 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines have either 148bhp (18d) or 188bhp (20d). The latter is brisk and flexible, and will be adequate for most buyers. The two 3.0-litre six-cylinder engines have either 255bhp (30d) or 308bhp (35d). The 30d is properly fast, and the 35d is quicker still. The four-cylinder cars come with a six-speed manual gearbox, with an excellent eight-speed automatic available as an option. The 30d and 35d get the auto 'box as standard.
Ride & Handling
So far, we've tried the X3 only with Variable Damper Control (VDC), and it's an appealing option because it allows you to stiffen or soften the suspension by pressing a button. The softest setting gives a smooth and comfortable ride, while the stiffest improves handling by keeping the X3 more upright through corners. The steering is nicely weighted, although it is a bit too heavy at manoeuvring speeds.
The engines could be a bit quieter, but they're not too clattery unless revved hard, while wind and road noise are kept to a respectable level on the motorway. The manual gearbox is far less impressive because its shift is rather stiff and springy. If your budget will stretch, it's well worth going for the automatic.
Buying & Owning
While it's no bargain, the X3 is competitively priced, and resale values are comparable with those of rivals such as the Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60. The engines are very efficient – the 18d has claimed average economy of 60mpg, and even the thirstiest does nearly 50mpg. Emissions are low, too, meaning affordable tax bills for company car drivers.
Quality & Reliability
The X3's cabin is built from high-quality materials, and although the fit and finish aren't quite up to the standards of an Audi Q5's, they'll still better than in most rivals. Reliability is another matter, however; the pre-face-lifted X3 was one of the least-reliable SUVs in the latest JD Power ownership satisfaction survey.
Safety & Security
Every X3 comes with front, side and curtain airbags, and a host of electronic aids that are designed to keep you out of trouble, including a tyre pressure-monitoring system. What's more, the bonnet features energy-absorbing deformation zones to improve pedestrian protection. All this helped the car achieve a maximum five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP. On the security front, deadlocks, marked parts, an alarm and locking wheelnuts are all included.
Behind The Wheel
The X3 comes with BMW's iDrive infotainment system, so you can flick through an encyclopedia of entertainment and set-up menus quickly and easily. The driving position is excellent, too, although it may take you a while to get the seat exactly where you want it because the standard manual controls are fiddly. It's also a pity that you have to pay extra for adjustable lumbar support.
Space & Practicality
There's plenty of space for four six-foot-something adults in the X3, but its wide transmission tunnel means that life isn't so comfortable for a central rear passenger. The boot is large and well shaped, though, and luggage space grows to a mountain bike-swallowing 1600 litres when the rear seats are folded down. The backrests are split 60/40 for added versatility, and you can pay extra for an even more useful 40/20/40 split.
SE spec gives you lots of luxuries, including leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control, sat-nav and even a powered tailgate. With that in mind, there's really no need to step up to one of the higher trim levels, although M Sport models do add some visual muscle with a bodykit, bigger alloy wheels and sports seats.