BMW X3 review

Category: Large SUV

Section: Performance & drive

BMW X3 2021 M40i rear tracking
  • BMW X3 2021 front cornering
  • BMW X3 2021 M40i rear tracking
  • BMW X3 2021 M40i Interior
  • BMW X3 2021 M40i rear seats
  • BMW X3 2021 infotainment
  • BMW X3 2021
  • BMW X3 2021 front right studio
  • BMW X3 2021 rear left studio
  • BMW X3 2021 left studio
  • BMW X3 2021 boot open
  • BMW X3 2021 boot open
  • BMW X3 2021 rear tracking
  • BMW X3 2021 left panning
  • BMW X3 2021 front cornering
  • BMW X3 2021 M40i rear tracking
  • BMW X3 2021 M40i Interior
  • BMW X3 2021 M40i rear seats
  • BMW X3 2021 infotainment
  • BMW X3 2021
  • BMW X3 2021 front right studio
  • BMW X3 2021 rear left studio
  • BMW X3 2021 left studio
  • BMW X3 2021 boot open
  • BMW X3 2021 boot open
  • BMW X3 2021 rear tracking
  • BMW X3 2021 left panning
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In this section:
  • Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
  • Suspension and ride comfort
  • Handling
  • Noise and vibration

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

Our pick of the X3’s engine lineup is the 187bhp mild hybrid 2.0-litre diesel, which is badged as the 20d. It offers strong performance, whether you’re negotiating suburbia or the M1, with 0-62mph arriving in just 7.9sec. In fact, it’s way punchier than the rather lacklustre Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 and will just about see off the impressive Audi Q5 45 TDI in a drag race. The 282bhp 3.0-litre straight-six diesel model (30d) is faster still, and its extra power makes it an even more relaxing car to cover ground in.

Petrol power starts with the 2.0-litre 184bhp unit, called the 20i. We’re yet to try it, but on paper it offers pace that’s similar to the Land Rover Discovery Sport P200, although it won’t quite match the Audi Q5 45 TFSI. There’s also a petrol-electric hybrid version of the X3, called the xDrive30e, with similar pace and range to its main plug-in hybrid rival, the Audi Q5 TFSIe. Officially the xDrive30e will do around 30 miles on pure electric power from a full charge, although in the real world expect that to be more like 15-20 miles depending on how you drive. 

If you desire even more performance, then read our dedicated review on the X3 M Competition here.

Suspension and ride comfort

Passive, non-adjustable suspension is standard on almost every X3 that doesn’t wear an M Sport badge. We are yet to try this setup, but suspect it’ll be more comfortable than the M Sport trim’s stiffer suspension, which gives in a pretty firm ride on most roads. The plug-in hybrid xDrive30e M Sport is the exception; it sticks with the softer suspension as standard, and has a softer edge as a result.

M Sport versions, including the xDrive30e, offer adaptive suspension as an option. This lets you choose between different settings, from softer Comfort through to a firmer Sport Plus mode. This setup delivers the best ride comfort on the X3, but it is expensive because it comes as part of the M Sport Plus Pack. The M40i and M40d models have their own sports suspension setup, with a version of the adaptive suspension system as an option. Both of these are lower and stiffer again, but the adaptive setup has enough adjustment to make it work well on all but the roughest roads.