The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The traditional lofty SUV driving position is present and correct in the X3. The driver’s seat is comfortable on long journeys and keeps you in place through bends with its supportive side bolsters – even more so the sports seats, which are standard from mid-spec xLine trim.
M40i and M40d models come with an electrically operated driver's seat with a memory function; this setup is optional on lower trim levels as part of the Comfort Plus Pack. All models provide a good range of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel, but it’s frustrating that BMW doesn’t include adjustable lumbar support as standard on any trim. It’s a relatively cheap option, though, and one that we’d definitely recommend adding.
Analogue dials come as standard, but these are swapped for a 10.25in screen with digital dials from M Sport trim. A head-up display is an optional extra on all trims. The X3’s dashboard has lots of physical buttons for all its major functions; we prefer these to the harder-to-hit touch-sensitive buttons that cars like the Land Rover Discovery Sport are fitted with. Overall, the X3’s dashboard really is an example of how to make a modern, well-equipped car easy to use.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Seeing out the front of the X3 is pretty easy, thanks to its large windscreen that’s framed by relatively thin pillars. This makes it easy to judge traffic at roundabouts and T-junctions, and looking over your shoulder gives you a decent view of what’s going on behind.
To make manoeuvring easier still, BMW has thrown in front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera and a parking assistant system that can steer the car into spaces for you as standard on all trims. If that’s not enough, there’s the option of a 360deg surround-view camera.
Visibility at night is taken care of by bright LED headlights, which you can pay extra to upgrade to Icon Adaptive LED headlights that are able to remain on main beam without blinding other road users. These are standard on the M40i and M40d.
Sat nav and infotainment
SE and xLine cars have an 8.8in touchscreen and from M Sport spec the screen grows in size to 12.3in. Both versions have sharp graphics, intuitive and responsive software, and can be controlled directly from the screen or via the rotary 'iDrive' controller between the front seats. The latter is a much safer way of operating the infotainment while driving than through the touchscreen, and the latter is all you get on pretty much every other rival. In fact, this is a big part of why we rate iDrive as the best infotainment system on the market.
A DAB radio, Bluetooth, in-built sat-nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring come as standard. A 16-speaker, 600-watt Harman Kardon stereo is one of the upgrades that’s available from M Sport trim and up.
The X3 is an outstanding example of how to do interior quality. Its sturdy trims, slick switches and soft dashboard materials impart a top-class feel throughout. And this isn’t something you experience only on the most expensive trim levels, either; M Sport, M40i and M40d models have slightly glossier finishes in places, but the cheaper versions look just as snazzy otherwise.
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