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The BMW X3 manages to be one of the most accomplished cars in its class. Despite its high ride height and SUV body, it strikes a neat balance between agility and composure - complemented by well-weighted steering - and instills confidence in its driver.
The 2.0-litre diesel in this model has 181bhp, making it flexible enough for nipping around town and overtaking on the motorway. It’s also efficient, promising more than 50mpg, and with low emissions it should be an attractive option for company car buyers.
SE spec has lots of luxuries such as leather upholstery, climate control, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control and auto lights and wipers. It also comes with BMW’s iDrive system, which is easy and intuitive to use.
Inside, it’s practical, with a large and evenly shaped boot that becomes even more cavernous when the rear seats are folded. Four six-foot adults will find enough head- and legroom to be comfortable on long trips.
Those in the two outer rear seats will be comfortable but a large transmission tunnel means anyone sitting in the middle-rear seat will have to straddle it. Equally, adjusting the front seats is fiddly using the standard manual controls.
The manual gearbox is stiff and springy, and simply isn’t up to the quality of the rest of the car. The 18d and 20d, while powerful and efficient, aren’t as hushed as they are in other BMWs, slightly compromising the generally excellent refinement.
Should I add any options?
We’d be tempted by the smooth eight-speed automatic.
Variable Damper Control is worth adding as it means the X3 rides with greater sophistication, adjusting the firmness of the dampers to suit conditions.
What are its rivals?
The X3 occupies a fiercely competitive segment, and is flanked by premium rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5 and Lexus NX. These achieve three stars, four stars and two stars respectively, so the BMW is at the top of the segment with the Q5.
**The car: BMW X3 xDrive20d SE
The saving: £3682
The list price: £33,940
The discounted price: £30,258
**The broker: Autoebid.com