BMW X3 xDrive M40d MHT 5dr Auto

  • Automatic
  • Diesel
  • 43.5 mpg
  • 5 door 4x4
  • 171 g/km CO2

Ten Second Review

BMW's third generation X3 is a premium mid-sized SUV that's a larger, plusher and more powerfully efficient choice than its predecessor, stacking up impressively against prestigiously-badged alternatives from Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar and Volvo in this sector. Like its rivals, dynamically targeted almost exclusively towards on-road use, it's another example of just how car-like a model of this kind can be.

Background

It isn't often that BMW gets it wrong - and even when it does, it usually still manages to turn a profit. Their original X3 compact SUV was a case in point, launched in 2004 to more affordably extend the reach of this Bavarian brand's road-biased SUV model range following the success of the larger all-conquering X5. But early X3s felt cheap, rode poorly and, even by the modest tarmac-orientated standards of the class, were woefully short of any kind of off-road ability. The second generation version, launched in 2010, was much better, but - in this country at least - it still lagged behind its arch-rival Audi's Q5, in terms of perceived desirability. Much has changed since 2010 of course. BMW launched a second generation X1 model in late 2015 that trod uncomfortably on the toes of lower X3 derivatives. And the X3's task was made even harder by the launch in 2016 of a Mercedes entrant (the GLC) in the mid-sized premium-badged SUV segment and the introduction of a second generation Audi Q5 model in early 2017, to join other key rivals like Volvo's XC60, Jaguar's F-PACE, Alfa Romeo's Stelvio and the Lexus NX. It all means that the X3 needs to re-assert itself. Can this third generation model do just that?

Driving Experience

You might think that sandwiched between the X1 and the X5, the X3 wouldn't have to spread its talents too broadly, but such is the span of rivals of this size that this third generation X3 needs to cater for quite different customer expectations in the compact luxury SUV segment. If those expectations extend towards a dynamic driving experience, then the X3 comes well prepared. With ideal 50:50 weight distribution, a finely honed chassis and xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive, linked to Dynamic Stability Control, this SUV proudly shows off the handling characteristics for which the Munich maker is renowned. To further improve dynamics, the car is now lighter and rear bias of BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system has been increased. As for engines, well as before, most buyers will choose a diesel, probably the 190bhp 2.0-litre xDrive 20d variant. There's also a 265bhp straight-six xDrive30d diesel derivative. And a potent 326hp M40d variant. BMW thinks that petrol power will get more of a take-up this time round, so is offering an entry-level xDrive 20i version, plus there's a range-topping 360bhp X3 M40i variant to take on rivals like Audi's SQ5. There's also a plug-in hybrid petrol version, the 252hp xDrive30e. As usual with the brand, there's an optional Dynamic Damper Control system, optional Variable sport steering and an optional sports braking set-up. BMW also boasts that a fording depth of 500 millimetres gives this SUV decent off road ability too. Across the range, 8-speed auto transmission is standard.

Design and Build

The exterior dimensions of this third generation X3 are largely the same as those of its MK2 predecessor, but its five-centimetre-longer wheelbase, long bonnet and short front overhang emphasise its 50:50 weight distribution between front and rear axle. At the front, the chunky three-dimensional kidney grille and LED fog lamps feature a hexagonal design. Moving to the rear, the three-dimensional LED light clusters, downward-sloping roof spoiler and twin exhaust pipes further enhance the appearance.The interior of the this X3 follows BMW tradition with a driver-focused and ergonomically designed cockpit. Hexagonal forms and precise, bevelled edges are a distinct design theme. The material quality and fit and finish are of a class above what you'd expect for a mid-range SAV, as you'd expect from a BMW, while it is also impressively functional, with more cabin stowage compared to its predecessor.To further improve comfort in the rear compartment, the angle of the standard 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat backrests can be adjusted individually and through various stages thanks to the optional rear comfort seat. This feature also allows the backrests to be released remotely from the load compartment, which expands the standard load capacity of 550-litres to 1,600-litres.

Market and Model

Pricing has risen a bit this time round, presumably to give the only slightly smaller BMW X1 SUV slightly more elbow room. The figures start at around £41,500 and rise to around £54,000 for the top M40d and M40i models. All variants come with xDrive 4WD and 8-speed auto transmission. There's also a full-electric iX3 model priced from around £62,000. Whichever variant you select, it'll be easy to spend more than you budgeted or, thanks to a wider range of tempting options. Optional perforated leather climate seats will be popular, perhaps fitted out with active seat ventilation. Another option is a generously sized panoramic glass roof, while optional acoustic front side windows will complement the standard acoustic windscreen glazing to help create even lower noise levels in the cabin. In basic specification, the X3 now has 18-inch light-alloy wheels (it had 17-inchers previously), while wheels up to 21-inches in diameter are available depending on the specification and engine variant. A nice touch this time round is the optional BMW Display Key - like the one found on the BMW 5 Series and 7 Series. The Display Key offers a series of additional features, keeping the driver informed of fuel levels and any service or maintenance work due, and letting them know that the windows and sunroof are closed. Plus, it can also be used to operate the optional auxiliary heating.

Cost of Ownership

As you'd expect from a current BMW, emissions are low and fuel economy is excellent. Let's get to the WLTP figures. To give you an idea of how far we've come, when the MK1 X3 was first launched in the UK in 2004, its 3.0-litre engine made 231bhp and emitted 293g/km of carbon dioxide on the old NEDC cycle. The benefit of a decade's engineering is evident in the fact that today's M40i flagship variant develops 360hp and emits just 209g/km (under tougher WLTP ratings) - the combined cycle fuel figure is 30.7mpg (WLTP). The base xDrive20i petrol manages 35.8mpg and 179g/km. For the xDrive30e plug-in hybrid petrol, the figures are 128.4mpg and 49g/km, with a WLTP-rated all-electric driving range of 34 miles. As for the diesel variants, well today's 265bhp xDrive30d model will get 40.9mpg (WLTP) from a gallon of fuel and 181g/km of CO2 (WLTP), which is impressive for a six cylinder diesel SUV. Go for the X3 xDrive20d and you'll see 47.9mpg and emit 154g/km. As usual with the brand, there's a 'Driving Experience Control' set-up that lets you switch between drive modes, one of which is 'ECO PRO', a setting that focuses all of the car's systems on achieving ultimate frugality. An overall weight reduction of 55kgs and sleeker aerodynamics also help here, this X3 boasting a class-leading drag coefficient of 0.29Cd. This has been achieved thanks to aerodynamic enhancements including a roof spoiler with aero edges at the sides and an 'Active Air Stream' system, which regulates the flow of cooling air for the engine, brakes and air conditioning. Finally, the all-electric iX3 has a 279 mile WLTP-rated driving range. Plugging the vehicle into a direct current rapid-charging station opens the door to charging outputs of up to 150 kW, meaning the high-voltage battery can be charged from 0 to 80 per cent of its full capacity in 34 minutes.

Summary

This X3 has come of age in third generation guise. If it struggles to match the profitability of its predecessor, then that'll be because competition in the premium mid-sized SUV sector is so much tougher these days. This model is, after all, an immeasurable improvement over the MK2 version in every possible way. Even the best of this car's prestige rivals can't match this one's hugely impressive blend of handling and efficiency. It feels up-market, it rides impressively and, thank goodness, on-tarmac, it drives just as a BMW should. All of which means that buyers in this sector who can afford the asking price should find that this X3 adds up very nicely indeed. Assuming that they don't prioritise off road ability of course: few will. A vehicle this good ought to speak for itself. Try one and we think you'll find that it does.

  • Black finish on B pillars
  • Shark fin antenna
  • Visible VIN plate
  • Exterior air inlets, mirror caps and air breather in cerium grey
  • Front and rear bumper system with replaceable deformation elements
  • Body colour door handles
  • High gloss black door sill finishers
  • Model designation
  • Dual black chrome quadrilateral exhaust tips
  • Side exterior M designation badges
  • M aerodynamic bodystyling
  • Body coloured bumpers
  • Body colour roof mouldings
  • Lightweight engineering
  • High gloss black shadow line roof rails
  • Cerium grey frame and kidney grille with high gloss black vertical slats
  • Side impact protection
  • Warning triangle and first aid kit
  • Deactivation of fuel pump in the event of a crash
  • Driver and front passenger front and side airbags with passenger deactivation and ITS front and rear head airbags
  • Child locks on rear doors
  • Battery safety cut-off
  • Two tone horn
  • Three point seatbelts to all seats with front and outer rear pyrotechnic belt tensioners and seat belt force limiters
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system
  • Seatbelt security check for front seats
  • Crash Sensor - activation of central locking release, hazard warning light and interior lighting
  • Front seat belts warning
  • Visibility pack - X3
  • Connected pack professional - X3
  • Vernasca leather upholstery
  • Front centre armrest with storage compartment
  • Anthracite headlining
  • Front and rear bottle holders integrated into door trim storage compartments
  • 12V socket in centre console and luggage area
  • Reach and rake adjustable steering column
  • Parcel shelf removeable and storable under boot floor
  • Removable / retractable luggage cover
  • Front and rear side armrests integrated into door trim
  • 4 lashing points to secure luggage
  • Door sill finishers with BMW Individual designation
  • Luggage area underfloor compartment
  • Foldable boot floor with storage compartment
  • Leather gear knob
  • M sport leather steering wheel
  • Toolkit located in luggage compartment
  • Two front cupholders with removable oddments tray/lid
  • Illuminated glovebox with lock
  • Four grab handles integrated in roof lining
  • Through loading system with 40/20/40 split folding rear seat
  • Rear centre armrest with 2 cupholders
  • Storage compartment in rear centre console and front/rear door trims
  • Locking wheel nuts
  • Central locking switch for all doors, fuel filler cap and luggage compartment
  • Remote control including two integrated key - one button for open/close all lockable content, windows and separate button for open luggage compartment
  • Electronic engine immobiliser
  • Start/stop button with Comfort Go keyless engine start and auto Start/stop deactivation button
  • Remote control Thatcham category 1 alarm
  • Stop/start system
  • Automatic tailgate operation
  • Auxiliary socket for external MP3 player
  • BMW professional radio/CD/MP3
  • DAB Digital radio
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium - Min: 45.6
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - Max: 7
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High - Min: 6.4
  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: False
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High: 44.1
  • WLTP - MPG - Low - Min: 29.1
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium - Max: 42.2
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium: 45.6
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - Min: 43.5
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High - Max: 40.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High - Min: 5.5
  • WLTP - MPG - High: 51.4
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low - Max: 10.1
  • WLTP - MPG - High - Max: 47.1
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low: 9.7
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium: 6.2
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb: 6.5
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium - Min: 6.2
  • WLTP - MPG - Low - Max: 28
  • WLTP - MPG - High - Min: 51.4
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb: 43.5
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High - Max: 6
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High - Min: 44.1
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium - Max: 6.7
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low - Min: 9.7
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High - Max: 6.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High: 6.4
  • WLTP - MPG - Low: 29.1
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High: 5.5
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - Max: 40.4
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - Min: 6.5
  • Engine Torque - NM: 700
  • Engine Power - PS: True
  • Engine Power - KW: 250
  • Engine Power - RPM: 4400
  • Top Speed: 155
  • Engine Torque - RPM: 1750
  • Engine Power - BHP: 340
  • 0 to 62 mph (secs): 4.9
  • Engine Torque - MKG: 71.4
  • Engine Torque - LBS.FT: 516
  • Alloys: True
  • Tyre Size Front: 245/45 R20
  • Tyre Size Spare: TYRE REPAIR KIT
  • Wheel Type: 20" ALLOY
  • Tyre Size Rear: 275/40 R20
  • Space Saver: False
  • Wheel Style: M DOUBLE SPOKE
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Low - Min: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - High - Min: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - High: 145
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Extra High - Min: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Extra High: 168
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - Min: 171
  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb: 171
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Medium: 163
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Medium - Max: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Medium - Min: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - Max: 184
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Low: 254
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Extra High - Max: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - High - Max: N
  • HC: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Low - Max: N
  • AdBlue: True
  • Generation Mark: 3
  • Vehicle Homologation Class: M1
  • NCAP Safety Assist %: 58
  • Badge Engine CC: 3.0
  • Manufacturers Paintwork Guarantee - Years: 3
  • Coin Series: N
  • NCAP Overall Rating - Effective February 09: 5
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Years: 3
  • NCAP Adult Occupant Protection %: 93
  • Safety Concerns: False
  • NCAP Pedestrian Protection %: 70
  • Coin Description: d MHT
  • Alternative Fuel Qualifying: True
  • Special Edition: False
  • Service Interval Mileage: 25000
  • Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07: 43E
  • Special Order: False
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Mileage: 999999
  • Based On ID: N
  • Timing Belt Interval Frequency - Months: N
  • Timing Belt Interval Mileage: N
  • NCAP Child Occupant Protection %: 84
  • Man Corrosion Perforation Guarantee - Years: 6
  • Badge Power: 340
  • Service Interval Frequency - Months: 24
  • Emissions Test Cycle: WLTP
  • RDE Certification Level: RDE 2
  • Max. Loading Weight: 540
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 2560
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: 2000
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Up): 550
  • Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked: 750
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 68
  • Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb: 12.1
  • Max. Roof Load: 100
  • Minimum Kerbweight: 2020
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Down): 1600
  • No. of Seats: 5
  • Cylinders - Stroke (mm): 90
  • CC: 2993
  • Cylinder Layout: IN-LINE
  • Gears: 8 SPEED
  • Transmission: SEMI-AUTO
  • Engine Code: B57D30T2
  • Cylinders - Bore (mm): 84
  • Fuel Delivery: COMMON RAIL
  • Camshaft: DOHC
  • Number of Valves: 24
  • Compression Ratio: 16.5:1
  • Cylinders: 6
  • Engine Layout: NORTH SOUTH
  • Catalytic Convertor: True
  • Width (including mirrors): 2138
  • Width: 1897
  • Height: 1676
  • Length: 4716
  • Height (including roof rails): N
  • Wheelbase: 2864