We use cookies on whatcar.com to improve your browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising, by continuing to use our site you agree to this. Please see our privacy policy for more details. Continue

What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For It's one of the sharpest 4x4s to drive, as well as spacious and well equipped

Against Even cars with the standard suspension ride too firmly, and quality could be better

Verdict You'll find the X3 has great handling, but it's compromised by the ride. It's dear to buy, too

Go for… 2.0d SE

Avoid… 2.0i

BMW X3 4x4
  • 1. Diesel values in particular are on the increase
  • 2. The handling is so crisp you forget it’s a 4x4
  • 3. All models are well equipped, but it’s worth seeking out an SE
  • 4. Ride quality is too poor for many buyers, and even worse on Sport models
  • 5. The quality of materials inside the cabin is uncharacteristically poor for BMW
advertisement

BMW X3 4x4 full review with expert trade views

If you expect every 4x4 to wallow around on Tarmac, the X3 will blow your mind. On the road, there’s so little body roll and the handling is so crisp you forget it’s a 4x4. It’s even pretty decent off-road.

The trouble is there’s a heavy price to pay for this ability, and that's the ride. You can choose a sports suspension, but we wouldn’t recommend it because even the standard set-up is too firm.

Perhaps the real surprise, though, is just how much room there is inside – so much you wonder why anyone would bother shelling out even more money for the X5, especially as the supposedly larger car has a smaller boot.

All X3s are well equipped, too, but what’s most disappointing is the quality. Although it’s all put together well enough, the choice of materials in a car of this price leaves a lot to be desired.

Trade view

John Owen

Avoid 3.0 petrol, used examples looking good value

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Never mind any concerns about driveability, fuel consumption alone should point you in the direction of a diesel X3, and the 2.0-litre model in particular. Whereas you’ll struggle to get even 30mpg out of any petrol X3, you may coax as much as 40mpg out of the 2.0d.

Even the 3.0-litre diesel returns 35.8mpg on the combined cycle, which is remarkable when you consider it has the quickest 0-60mph time of any X3 - just 7.4 seconds.

All models are well equipped, but it’s worth finding an SE rather than the basic model, because this gets a few choice extras, such as cruise control, parking sensors and body-coloured exterior detailing. Sport models have bigger wheels, special seats and sports suspension, but the firm ride is far from pleasant. There’s also the M Sport with a unique body kit (introduced in late 2005), but it’s very expensive.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Diesel values in particular are on the increase, less demand for petrols

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The X3 is expensive as a new car, and it’s exactly the same story when you look at it as a used car. That sought-after badge is a guarantee of strong residuals and high prices. On the other hand, at least that means you should get a good price when you sell it on.

Fuel economy is pretty good as long as you stick to the diesels. An X3 2.0d is more frugal than a diesel Land Rover Freelander, for example, and on a par with more mainstream rivals, such as the Nissan X-Trail. Insurance, too, is perfectly respectable compared to others in its class.

Best of all, don’t think that the BMW badge means you’ll be paying through the nose for servicing and maintenance. According to Warranty Direct, although BMW dealers do have very high labour rates, the overall cost of repairs is lower than average on the X3.

Trade view

John Owen

Avoid 3.0 petrol, used examples looking good value

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

We have heard of no major problems with the X3 so far, and there have been no recalls affecting it, either. What’s more, for the time being, many models are still young enough for glitches to be picked up by the new-car warranty.

Neither the X3 nor its bigger brother, the X5, has appeared in JD Power surveys as yet, but BMW as a company traditionally does very well, finishing in the top five in recent years.

Certainly, that’s the impression you get from consumers. Although some problems have been reported, they are few and far between. Most people are very positive about their cars, most enjoying the handling, and many diesel owners report excellent fuel economy. The only frequent complaint is the ride quality, and opinion on that was divided between those who couldn’t stand it and those who thought it a small price to pay for the handling.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Diesel values in particular are on the increase, less demand for petrols

James Ruppert
Used car guru
Haymarket Logo What Car? is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media
What Car? is part of Haymarket Motoring
© Haymarket Media Group 2014