BMW X3 Review & Prices
The BMW X3 is a handsome family SUV that’s as fun to drive as it is practical. You’ll have to pay extra for some desirable options that really should be standard-fit, though
Find out more about the BMW X3
The BMW X3 is a shark among whales when it comes to family SUVs. If you’re after practical transport that doesn’t come up short on driving fun, then it’s definitely worth considering over and above alternatives such as the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and Mercedes GLC.
Updates in late 2021 mean the already handsome X3 now looks more chiselled than a young Tom Cruise – particularly in the sportier M Sport and M Performance guises. Its posh, leather-upholstered cabin received a sharp new 12.3-inch infotainment screen and a crisp digital instrument display, though this does look a touch dated now BMW's newer cars get a swooping twin-screen setup.
But despite this technological glow-up, the X3 is still as functional as ever. Electrically-adjustable seats are available as part of an options package, and make getting comfortable behind the optional heated steering wheel a breeze. There’s plenty of storage throughout the cabin, and two adult passengers will be more than happy to travel long-distances in the second row. That said, you can’t slide the rear bench backwards and forwards like you can on an Audi Q5, but the backrest does offer a tilt feature as part of the Comfort package.
Watch: Audi Q5 v BMW X3 v Mercedes GLC v Volvo XC60
Still, the X3’s 550-litre boot will easily swallow a load of large suitcases, and is exactly the same size as the aforementioned Audi’s or a Mercedes GLC’s. As is typical, you'll lose some of this capacity if you go for the plug-in hybrid, because the batteries are stored beneath the boot floor. All versions of the X3 get a hands-free tailgate as standard, though.
You can take your pick from a decent selection of petrol and diesel engines. There’s everything from a 190hp four-cylinder diesel up to a 510hp six-cylinder petrol that you get in the high-performance (and gas-guzzling) X3 M Competition. There’s also that fuel-sipping plug-in hybrid version.
We've tested the powerful M40d model, which gets a 340hp six-cylinder diesel engine, as well as the 292hp plug-in hybrid. The diesel is impressively smooth and can summon a fair whack of acceleration when you need it, and will return 45mpg on a long motorway run. But as impressive as this pricey model is, most people will be best served by the smaller, cheaper four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.
We're not so keen on the plug-in hybrid. While it has the same lovely, spacious interior as other models, it loses some boot space and just doesn't have the same electric-only range as alternatives such as the Mercedes GLC. This means that you should see lower running costs in the Mercedes as it will need to call on the petrol engine less often.
The BMW X3 is tough to beat. Not only is it good to look at, it’s luxurious and practical on the inside, and fun to drive
Around town, the BMW X3 is a very easy car to drive. A raised driving position means you can see clearly out the front and the back, and though the steering is on the weighty side, this chunky SUV is easy to thread through gaps in the traffic and into tight parking spaces. Standard-fit parking sensors help out here, though you’ll have to cough-up if you want a full 360-degree parking camera.
The sportier M40d M Performance model does feel a bit uncomfortable over bumps however, and on the motorway it remains a firm-riding car. Road noise is noticeable too, and you’ll likely be disappointed to find you’ll have to pay extra for adaptive cruise control. But still, the BMW X3 is one of the most fun family SUVs to drive on a twisting country road.
So, if you’re after a practical family SUV that looks the part both inside and out and is fun to drive, then the BMW X3 should be at the top of your list. Alternatives might be slightly comfier in day-to-day driving, but none mix driving fun and interior luxury quite as well as the X3.
Head on over to our BMW X3 deals page to see how much you can save on a new X3 when you buy through carwow. Did you know you can even buy a used BMW X3 as well as a huge range of other used BMWs from our network of trusted dealers. You can sell your car through carwow when the time comes, too.
The BMW X3 has a RRP range of £48,005 to £65,250. However, with carwow you can save on average £3,562. Prices start at £45,241 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £594. The price of a used BMW X3 on carwow starts at £20,500.
Our most popular versions of the BMW X3 are:
|Model version||carwow price from|
|xDrive20d MHT M Sport 5dr Step Auto||£47,864||Compare offers|
|xDrive20i MHT M Sport 5dr Step Auto||£46,933||Compare offers|
The X3 is priced within a few pounds of alternatives like the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC, however it undercuts the stylish Volvo XC60 and sporty Porsche Macan in base trim. It’s decently equipped as standard, but some desirable options like a heated steering wheel, keyless entry and advanced park assist require you to dip into your pocket.
Options on alternatives aren’t cheap either, so there really isn’t much to differentiate these mid-size luxury SUVs when it comes to pricing.
The BMW X3 offers strong performance regardless of the engine you pick, although the sportiest M40d and M40i have rather firm suspension settings compared to the rest of the range
The X3 offers a commanding driving position thanks to its height and generous glass area. The smooth transmission and responsive engines combine to deliver a relaxed driving experience, while the suspension on all but the top performance models is perfectly suited to less-than-perfect road surfaces.
Good visibility aids tight parking manoeuvres, helped with standard parking sensors, although you have to pay extra for advanced park assist. The xDrive30e Plug-in Hybrid offers up to 30 miles of all-electric range, so could be the ideal choice if you have a very short commute and can charge often. But its range is considerably lower than some rivals, which will make running costs higher in the long run.
On the motorway
Smooth, quiet and responsive. The BMW X3 is perfectly suited for long motorway miles. It will comfortably seat five adults and even the base 184hp 2.0-litre petrol engine is more than capable of snappy overtaking manoeuvres.
The 2.0-litre diesel is the ideal choice here though, as it provides punchy performance as well as impressive fuel economy, and it’s smooth and quiet when not pressing on. The same refinement can be said of the plug-in hybrid, though these powertrains are not suited to regular long journeys and will be much thirstier.
Perhaps our only complaint about the X3's motorway driving is the fact that there's a bit more road noise than you might expect. It's not too bad, but a Lexus NX will be a much more relaxing companion for motorway mileage.
On a twisty road
The BMW X3 is one of the sharpest driving SUVs on sale, and in M40d and M40i guise it delivers an especially exhilarating driving experience around a winding stretch of road. The sportier suspension setup and extra power of these M Performance Models (not to be confused with the full-fat X3 M models) allows this large SUV to corner with accuracy and launch out of tight bends with ease.
That said, the non-M models are still good fun, with not much body lean in corners and good grip which gives you confidence to press on. The plug-in hybrid engine works well here, too. While some petrol-electric engines struggle to combine their power, you can pop the X3 into Sport mode and it offers sharp throttle response to catapult you out of corners. Despite this, the extra weight of the batteries makes it the least sharp version overall.
The X3 excels when it comes to interior space as the cabin is both comfortable and spacious enough for five occupants. It’s just a shame you lose so much boot practicality in the hybrid
There’s plenty of storage space in the front of the BMW X3 thanks to some clever solutions in the centre console and large door bins. There are also two cupholders ahead of the gear lever as well as a storage nook for your mobile. The centre console houses a large bin under the armrest and the glovebox can fit a few smaller items as well. It's also felt-lined so nothing will rattle around while you drive.
The leather-clad front sport seats are supportive and are heated as standard, although lumbar support costs extra and electric seat adjustment is available as an option on the mid-spec M Sport trim (though it is standard on the top M Performance models). That said, even the standard seats offer plenty of adjustment so spending extra on power switches isn’t strictly necessary unless more than one driver regularly uses the car.
Space in the back seats
The X3 has grown in size compared to the previous model and this benefits rear seat passengers who now get additional legroom. Headroom is also generous, although the raised centre seat is less comfortable than the two outer ones. Rear air vents, large door bins and a centre armrest with integrated cupholders round off the practical features in the back. An adjustable rear backrest is available as part of the Comfort and Comfort Plus packages.
All of this space means that it's easy to fit a child seat in the back. The ISOFIX points are easily accessible too, so there's less annoying fiddling required to get the seat safely secured.
There’s not much to choose between the X3 and its alternatives when it comes to boot space. The Audi Q5 offers 520 litres while the Mercedes GLC matches the X3 with 550 litres on offer with the rear seats up, although you do get a hands free tailgate standard on the X3. Fold the rear seats down and you get 1,600 litres of luggage space, which once again matches the Mercedes and is slightly ahead of the Audi’s 1,520 litres.
It's less impressive with the plug-in hybrid model, which drops to 450 litres. All of its alternatives have a similar problem in their hybrid versions, but the X3 is still a bit smaller than all of them. More annoying is that, because of the batteries beneath the boot floor, there's a raised central section that requires you to slide heavy items off a ridge before pulling them out. And folding the rear seats introduces another small ledge that makes it tricky to get heavy items out if you've pushed them right through.
An extended storage option adds nets behind the front seat backrests, additional lashing eyes and a storage net on the left side of the boot. The plug-in hybrid model doesn’t get a luggage compartment net and if you option the emergency spare wheel you lose the lashing rails, hooks and straps as well.
The cabin is logically laid out, with plenty of high-quality materials and all the tech you need, although adding pricey options is tempting
BMW has really upped its game when it comes to the quality of its interiors, in the case of the X3 the materials and finishes are all of a very high standard aside from some plastic trim lower down in the footwell.
The X3 received a mild update in 2021 and aside from the sharper exterior, the cabin now benefits from a crisp new 12.3-inch infotainment screen and standard 12.3-inch digital driver display. The user interface is one of the very best out there, with all major functions easily controlled either from the touchscreen, voice commands or the rotary iDrive controller between the front seats. Gesture control allows you to wave your hand about to adjust the audio system, not strictly a must-have but it’s part of the useful Technology Pack which adds a WiFi Hotspot, Harman/Kardon sound system, Head-up display and wireless charging as well.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and connect to the infotainment system wirelessly, giving you the option of using your own apps if you prefer. If you don’t opt for wireless charging, then you can plug your phone into a selection of USB ports – both front and rear.
While we're still big fans of this setup, it must be noted that this does now look a little dated compared with newer BMWs, which get an ultra-wide twin-screen display that swoops along the dash and behind the steering wheel.
Lighter leather colours give the interior a spacious and airy feel, as does the optional panoramic sunroof – available as a standalone option.
All-wheel-drive, an eight-speed automatic transmission and a mild-hybrid 48-volt system are standard across the range. As you might expect the 190hp 2.0-litre diesel engine offers the best combination of economy and performance with a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds and an overall consumption figure of 48.7mpg. This eclipses the petrol model’s 8.4 second and 37.2mpg effort, though it is better suited to those who do a lot of miles on the motorway.
The slightly more powerful 204hp Audi Q5 is a touch quicker to 62mph, taking 7.6 seconds, but only manages 44.8mpg in mixed driving conditions. The 219hp Mercedes GLC 220d is even more efficient at 52.3mpg.
With 292hp, the 2.0-litre petrol plug-in hybrid splits the range in performance terms with a 6.1-second 0-62mph time, but its stellar 134.5mpg makes it the economy king. Achieving that figure does depend on you making the most of its 30 miles of all-electric range and sticking to shorter journeys, but even then it's a bit disappointing next to similar alternatives.
For example, the Audi Q5 Plug-In Hybrid offers similar performance and a slightly longer 39 miles of all-electric range, while the Volvo XC60 can go nearly 50 miles and the GLC a whopping 80 miles. That said, the sporty Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Porsche Macan don’t have equivalent hybrid models in their ranges, so the X3 wins in that regard.
The xDrive30d has a 286hp 3.0-litre diesel engine and its 45.6mpg fuel economy figures and very strong performance make it a great choice if you regularly travel long distances.
The M Performance models comprise the 340hp M40d and 360hp M40i. Both scorch to 62mph in just 4.9 seconds, but the diesel manages 40.9mpg as opposed to the petrol model’s 31.0mpg. They offer a class-leading level of performance at their price point.
As an example, the Audi SQ5 with its 341hp diesel engine trails the M40d in performance and economy, while the Porsche Macan GTS is capable of a 4.3-second 0-62mph time but costs a fair bit more than the M40i, falling in just below the much quicker 510hp X3 M Competition.
The BMW X3 received a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating when it was first released, scoring a commendable 93% for adult occupant safety and 84% for child occupants. The Safety Assist score was a less stellar 58%, but the facelifted X3 now has a more comprehensive set of safety features including lane departure and lane change warnings, cross traffic warning and front collision warning with brake function.
Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are standard, but an advanced parking assistant, laser headlights and keyless entry are all optionally available.
The BMW X3 looks fresh thanks to its recent update but it has been around since 2017 and teething issues should have been ironed out long ago. Owner surveys have borne this out with the X3 scoring highly across most segments. There have been a number of recalls over the years, most for minor issues aside from an airbag that could damage the instrument panel when deployed and seatbelt mounting bolts that may not have been securely attached. All of this should have been rectified by the manufacturer if you are considering buying used, while the facelifted model has only had one recall so far for a software issue.
The X3 is offered with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty with an option to extend it up to a maximum of 100,000-miles. There are various fixed-price and monthly option service plans and a roadside assistance programme also on offer.
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