What's the used BMW X3 4x4 like?
The first generation of BMW X3 was not well loved thanks to its poor quality, bizarre styling and firm ride – but this second generation, launched towards the end of 2010, is as brilliant as the original was below par. It did so well it lasted until 2018, when it was replaced by an all-new third-generation model that carried on a lot of the good ideas started with this car.
For a start, the second-gen model was a much larger car than the first, with loads of room for four adults to travel in comfort, and a big boot too. Granted, the central fifth seat is still rather narrow and there’s a large raised section in the floor where you want to put your feet, but the same applies to the X3’s rivals such as the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and Range Rover Evoque.
It’s in the front where you really get to enjoy the X3, though, not only for the raised driving position and sense of space, but for the classy design and solid build quality. All models are well equipped and BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is still one of the best systems on the market in terms of features and ease of use.
When you buy a BMW there are also certain expectations around the driving experience, which is where the original X3 ultimately fell widest of the mark. No such dangers with this replacement version which is all at once respectably fast and good fun, but also quiet and comfortable. Or at least it is if you opt for an SE version rather than the M Sport with its overly firm suspension. If you do fancy the sportier looks of the latter, we’d advise seeking out a car that’s also fitted with the optional variable damper control adaptive suspension.
The diesel-only engine line-up consisted of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder and a 3.0-litre straight-six. The former is represented by the entry-level 18d and the most popular 20d, while the six cylinders came in 30d and high-performance 35d forms. All bar the 18d came with four-wheel drive as standard.
The six-cylinder units delivered smoother and much stronger performance but were also significantly more expensive to buy and run, which is why most buyers opted for the 20d instead. Whatever X3 you go for, we’d recommend the smooth automatic over the manual which has an awkward clutch and a rubbery action.
A mid-life facelift in 2014 didn’t radically alter the X3, but did result in improved equipment levels such as the standard fitment of sat-nav. At the same time the 2.0-litre diesel engine in the 20d was replaced with a new Euro 6-compliant unit, and a new mid-range xLine trim level was introduced.