BMW X3 xDrive


    The premium mid-sized SUV is the current motoring must-have. Every manufacturer worth their salt makes one, and every middle manager worth their sales bonus (or not, perhaps?) wants one. Can you imagine what they’d say at the golf club if you didn’t?
 As for me, I’ve never been quite so enamoured. SUVs, premium or not, are not exactly what you call exciting. Nevertheless, one should always approach these things with an open mind...

  Now bigger than the original BMW X5 - a car that helped kick-off this whole off-roader for the road malarkey in the first place – BMW’s new X3 must surely be one of the definitive ways to set the curtains of the more salubrious suburbs twitching.
  There’s no denying it is a very handsome thing; undeniably chunky, and sophisticated, in that oh-so Germanic way, the famous trademark double kidney grille and ever-desirable blue on white badge announce your arrival, and let’s face it, the sheer size of the X3 means it’s always going to have “presence”.

  Rivals to this Bavarian behemoth include Volvo’s chic new V60 and Audi’s ever increasingly upmarket (as long as you can afford the options that is) Q5. Not to mention Solihull’s somewhat style-over-substance Range Rover Velar.

   You might expect to find a bigger engine than BMW’s 2 litre diesel beneath the X3’s sculpted bonnet, and indeed there is the option of more cylinders should you so desire. But don’t dismiss the smaller motor. Yes, the 4 pot can get a little vocal if asked to really move things along, however when allied with BMW’s beautifully smooth 8 speed auto ‘box, power never feels lacking, and progress is more than swift enough for everyday duties. BMW claim 51.4mpg. Expect mid 40s here in the real world and you shouldn’t be too disappointed.

   Neither should you be left wanting when it comes to overall ambience. Not only is the X3 supremely hushed when cruising (acoustic glazing is an option), the driving position is near-perfect - thanks in-part to some superbly multi adjustable seats – and the use of materials is first class. BMW’s I-drive system is also much more user friendly, thanks to its rotary controller, than any touchscreen system you’ll ever encounter.

    Critics may quip that BMW’s classic cabin layout is now being to feel its age, orange backlighting and all. Plus, although beautifully clear the 8 inch info screen does feel a little tacked-on, sat as it is atop the dash. Nevertheless the ergonomics remain brilliantly intuitive, and of course, everything’s beautifully tactile.

    The sense of solidity, dare I say firmness, can be felt in the way the X3 drives. It’s based on the Munich brand’s CLAR platform - the same as the one underpinning their 5 Series saloon - which means the new X3 is 55kg lighter than before and benefits from 50:50 weight distribution. Both of which undoubtedly improve handling.

   Our M-Sport equipped car also gained from standard sports suspension, as well as BMW’s optional adaptive dampers, which allow you to switch between Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+  modes whilst also altering steering, throttle and gearbox settings accordingly.

   As a result, the X3 doesn’t drive like an SUV; there isn’t the associated body-roll. In fact, handling–wise it’s probably the class leader. I’m also very reliably informed that is very capable off-road as well

      In fact very capable is how I would sum-up the X3. It of course expensive – it’s a premium German product after all – and you’ll have to plunder the options list if you want anywhere near the amount of goodies (an extra £7,540’s worth!) I sampled. But it is spacious, and it is beautifully put together.

   And like I said… the best bit about the new is X3… It doesn’t feel like an SUV.   


BMW X3 xDrive 20d M Sport

Engine: 1,995cc 4Cyl, 16V Turbo-diesel

Transmission: 8 speed auto with manual mode.  Four-wheel drive.

Power:   187 bhp @ 4,000 rpm

Torque: 295 lbft @ 1,750 rpm

0-62MPH: 7.7 Sec

Max Speed: 132 mph

CO2: 144 g/km

MPG: 51.4 (combined)

Price: from £41,990 otr (as tested £49,530)


Many thanks to Martin at BMW’s UK press office for the loan of the X3



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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