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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The BMW X3 is great to drive, has some off road ability and is spacious.

Against The X3 suffers from a firm ride, high running costs and lacklustre image.

Verdict A competent mid-sized 4x4, but it's not that exciting.

Go for… 2.0d SE

Avoid… 3.0i M Sport

BMW X3 4x4
  • 1. It’s a bit drab to look at, while the design of the cabin does nothing to inspire, either.
  • 2. As mid-sized 4x4s go, the X3 is certainly one of the best to drive with sharp handling, decent grip and little body roll.
  • 3. You shouldn’t look beyond the 2.0-litre diesel with 175bhp. It’s the best all-round buy, and will hold its value better than the rest.
  • 4. Electrical gremlins are not unknown, so check all the controls work.
  • 5. Check the wear of the brake discs and pads on used X3s, as they can wear faster than expected, as can the expensive tyres. Check across the face to ensure even wear.
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BMW X3 4x4 full review with expert trade views

It’s a bit drab to look at, while the design of the cabin does nothing to inspire, either. It is refined, though, and a relaxed place to travel, and it does have mild-off road abilities.

As mid-sized 4x4s go, the X3 is certainly one of the best to drive with sharp handling, decent grip and little body roll. However, the ride is firm and the car feels unsettled on the poor road surfaces.

Inside there’s good cabin space, with front and rear passengers well catered for. So much so, it’s not substantially smaller than the BMW X5. In theory there’s space for five, but the size of the transmission tunnel leaves little legroom in the rear middle seat. The boot is also a good size, but the split folding rear seats don’t lie completely flat so large loads can’t simply be slid in.

Trade view

The ride on the M Sport version is firm enough to loosen your fillings – buy with care.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

You shouldn’t look beyond the 2.0-litre diesel with 175bhp. It’s the best all-round buy, and will hold its value better than the rest. The 218bhp 3.0d is slightly faster, but the 282bhp 3.0sd feels decently rapid. All diesel engines are smooth and refined.

Petrol models aren’t that common, but choose between the 2.5si with 218bhp and 3.0si with 272bhp. The second isn’t officially much less efficient that the first, but they're both expensive to fuel and tax.

SE models come with alloys, climate and cruise controls, and parking sensors, while the M Sports gets racier cabin trim, alloys, steering wheel and bodykit. The standard suspension set-up is firm enough, but the Sport’s is even stiffer, and best avoided, unless you only drive on the smoothest of roads.

The automatic gearbox takes the strain out of urban driving, but will take its toll on fuel economy.

Trade view

Larger-engine models will lose more of their value through depreciation.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The diesels deliver official economy figures of 43.5mpg for the 2.0d, 38.2mpg for the 3.0d and 36.2mpg for the 3.0sd. CO2 emissions are on the high side at 172g/km, 196g/km and 208g/km respectively.

The petrols fall far short of that. The 2.5si can manage only 30.4mpg and 224g/km, while the 3.0si returns just 29.1mpg and 233g/km.

Insurance premiums won’t be slight, either, as the base models start at group 16, rising to group 18. Add to that the higher-than-average servicing costs for this class of car, and you’ll be paying heavily for the privilege of an X3 parked on your drive.

Trade view

The ride on the M Sport version is firm enough to loosen your fillings – buy with care.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Electrical gremlins are not unknown, so check all the controls work. Axels and the suspension can suffer too – so check for clonks and thumps when on a test drive.

Check the wear of the brake discs and pads on used X3s, as they can wear faster than expected, as can the expensive tyres. Check across the face to ensure even wear.

The quality of the cabin materials does feel a little low rent, and many owners comment on its poor appearance. However, there are few complaints of things falling off, or of squeaks and rattles. Do check for missing items of trim, though, as replacements are expensive.

Unusually, the front and rear parking sensors have a habit of failing completely, requiring a replacement from dealers, usually under warranty. As with other BMWs, the Bluetooth system is notoriously temperamental, refusing to work with many phones. Consult a dealer for advice.

Trade view

Larger-engine models will lose more of their value through depreciation.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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