Even the BMWX3’s diesel engines are quiet and powerful enough to breeze past slow-moving traffic but top-spec petrol versions are very expensive to run
You can get the BMW X3 with two petrol and two diesel engines. All models come with four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
Pick a two-litre petrol model if you do lots of driving around town. It’s cheaper to buy and (at slow speeds) slightly quieter than the diesels. It’ll return a claimed 39.8mpg but in real-world conditions you can expect it to manage around 30mpg.
If you do lots of motorway miles or regularly travel long distances you’ll want to consider one of the diesel models instead. The cheapest 20d version is easily fast enough to keep up with fast-moving motorway traffic and it’ll return around 45mpg in normal driving conditions.
Pick the 265hp 30d model if you want something smoother, faster and still reasonably cheap to run. It’ll sprint from 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds (that’s more than two seconds faster than the 20d) but can still return approximately 40mpg in real-world driving.
It might not feel quite as spritely as the 5 Series saloon on which it’s based, but the X3 still does a better job of dealing with tight twisty roads then most family SUVs
If you want sports-car performance from your BMW X3, you’ll want the range-topping M40i. It packs a 360hp punch from its turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine and can sprint from 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds. It will set you back nearly £50,000, however.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox you get as standard is smooth at slow speeds and responds quickly to the paddles behind the steering wheel if you put it in manual mode. It’s smoother at slow speeds than the Q5’s automatic gearbox, and it really helps take the stress out of long drives.
You get a good view out over the road ahead in the high-riding BMW X3, and its reasonably thin pillars between the front doors and windscreen don’t create any particularly awkward blindspots at junctions.
Its light steering and reasonably tight turning circle (for an SUV at least) mean it isn’t too daunting to drive around town. It’s reasonably easy to park too, especially since all models come with front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and a self-parking system that’ll steer you into parallel and bay spaces automatically.
For an extra £500 you can get what BMW calls its Parking Assistant Plus. This comes with a 360-degree camera system that’ll display a superimposed top-down image of the car and its surroundings on the central infotainment screen – it’ll help make sure you never scrape an alloy wheel on a tall kerb again.
Another soothing option is the adaptive suspension. It’ll cost you an extra £750 but it helps iron out bumps around town and stops the BMW X3‘s tall body from leaning in tight corners. Without it you’ll feel large potholes slightly more than in the GLC – especially at slow speeds and in cars fitted with the optional 20 and 21-inch alloy wheels – but it’s still far from uncomfortable.
These bigger wheels also produce quite a lot of tyre noise at speed, but the standard-fit acoustic windscreen helps keep wind noise to a minimum. You can even get the front side windows with the same coating to help make the BMW X3 as quiet as possible at motorway speeds.
Euro NCAP hasn’t crash-tested the BMW X3 yet, but it comes with some high-tech features as standard to help keep you safe. These include automatic emergency city braking that’ll apply the brakes for you if it senses an obstacle ahead.
For a little extra peace of mind, you should consider one of the extra Driving Assistant packs. For £670 you get lane departure warning and a system that’ll warn you if there’s a car approaching from behind as you pull out of parking spaces, while £1,750 buys you a system that’ll change lanes on the motorway by itself. You also get adaptive cruise control to maintain a safe distance to cars ahead before returning to a preset speed once the road’s clear.