Almost two years since we purchased this car and it has been 100% reliable and servicing costs are really low.
It seems a bit like the Tardis. Small on the outside but surprisingly spacious on the inside with a reasonable boot. Interior is a tad drab though. Seats are typical BMW - firm but comfy. The Zenons which point around corners are actually rather good and make the ones on our Landcruiser Amazon look like they are candle powered. The flip-up Sat Nav/Tv is a tad irritating but that is probably me being fussy.
The steering box is very noisy where turning the steering wheel at low speeds but all X3's seem to do this so we concluded it is the norm, not a fault.
Performance is brisk & fun. Handling is precise for a 4x4 but the ride is smooth enough. Have not got a clue what it is like off-road apart from driving across the odd grass covered fields which it does without fuss as expected.
Fuel consumption a tad poor at 21-22mpg but then we don't put many miles on this car. The 3.0 diesel did not exist when we bought this one but next time around, it will be the diesel without doubt as it is better than this petrol motor in every respect.
I took delivery of my car in July 2005 and have subsequently racked up 19,000 trouble-free miles.
I am delighted with all aspects of the car. Space, handling, performance and comfort are all excellent as is the range of over 600 miles per tank.
I have had no build quality or reliability issues at all. In fact, it hasn't even required a service visit yet, as the service indicator is still showing 2000 miles to go.
I agree that the ride can be a little firm on certain surfaces (there is a stretch of the M62 near Warrington that can induce sea-sickness when taken at speed), but most of the time it is fine.
In common, I suspect, with most 4x4 owners, I have no idea how good it is at climbing mountains or fording swollen rivers - but in the real world of motorways, snow, ice and bad drivers I find it a very capable and safe form of transport.
I have just purchased this car for my wife, trading in a BMW 540i V8. After driving the V8 I had very high expectations to fulfil. This car fulfils them all and more - it's absolutely superb.
What an unbelievable engine - only 0.5 second slower than the 4.4 V8 and bags more torque. It's a perfect height for getting our child in and out of the car seat, and it has very comfortable sports seats that hug you in places.
I agree with the other reviewers that the ride is firm, but what do you expect from a vehicle marketed as a sports 4x4 utility vehicle. I would be far more disappointed with a sloppy, wallowey ride.
I am also very pleased that BMW, apart from a couple of tweaks, has kept the usual cabin standard and styling (not the iDrive system) that signifies it as a BMW. Build quality? Well, its a BMW.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with this vehicle after only four weeks owning it. Would I have another one? Without a doubt. Maybe BMW will drop in the performance-enhanced 3.0 diesel that the 535 enjoys, that would be awesome.
Having owned the 3 and 5 series, I am severely disappointed with the quality of the fit and finish in the X3.
Recently, I have had to change the roof rails under warranty as they were rusting!(I believe that this is common to the X5 too). My local dealership is excellent for service.
I have covered over 45K miles in this 04 model and I have been pleased with the performance on the motorway but it is the ride quality around town that lets it down. Very firm and this is the SE version.
'Built to a price' springs to mind and BMW have 'taken their eye off the ball' in terms of quality with this one.
Must try harder BMW, don't take us BMW owners for granted.
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