BMW X3 xDrive20i M Sport 5dr Step Auto

  • Automatic
  • Petrol
  • 35.8 mpg
  • 5 door 4x4
  • 179 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.

  • 4 lashing points to secure luggage
  • Rear centre armrest with 2 cupholders
  • Illuminated glovebox with lock
  • Four grab handles integrated in roof lining
  • Anthracite headlining
  • Vernasca leather upholstery
  • Reach and rake adjustable steering column
  • Foldable boot floor with storage compartment
  • Parcel shelf removeable and storable under boot floor
  • Leather gear knob
  • Two front cupholders with removable oddments tray/lid
  • Storage compartment in rear centre console and front/rear door trims
  • Front and rear side armrests integrated into door trim
  • Front centre armrest with storage compartment
  • 12V socket in centre console and luggage area
  • Luggage area underfloor compartment
  • Through loading system with 40/20/40 split folding rear seat
  • Removable / retractable luggage cover
  • M sport leather steering wheel
  • Front and rear bottle holders integrated into door trim storage compartments
  • Door sill finishers with BMW Individual designation
  • Toolkit located in luggage compartment
  • High gloss black door sill finishers
  • Lightweight engineering
  • Visible VIN plate
  • Body coloured bumpers
  • M aerodynamic bodystyling
  • Black finish on B pillars
  • Front and rear bumper system with replaceable deformation elements
  • High gloss black shadow line roof rails
  • Body colour roof mouldings
  • High gloss shadowline exterior trim in decorative moulding side frame/recess cover/guide rail/B, C pillars/mirror frame and triangle with mirror base
  • Body colour door handles
  • Dual chrome exhaust
  • Chrome kidney grille with high gloss black vertical slats
  • Side exterior M designation badges
  • Shark fin antenna
  • Model designation
  • Remote control including two integrated key - one button for open/close all lockable content, windows and separate button for open luggage compartment
  • Locking wheel nuts
  • Electronic engine immobiliser
  • Start/stop button with Comfort Go keyless engine start and auto Start/stop deactivation button
  • Remote control Thatcham category 1 alarm
  • Central locking switch for all doors, fuel filler cap and luggage compartment
  • Auxiliary socket for external MP3 player
  • 6 speakers
  • DAB Digital radio
  • BMW professional radio/CD/MP3
  • Front seat belts warning
  • Driver and front passenger front and side airbags with passenger deactivation and ITS front and rear head airbags
  • Two tone horn
  • Deactivation of fuel pump in the event of a crash
  • Battery safety cut-off
  • Seatbelt security check for front seats
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system
  • Warning triangle and first aid kit
  • Side impact protection
  • Crash Sensor - activation of central locking release, hazard warning light and interior lighting
  • Three point seatbelts to all seats with front and outer rear pyrotechnic belt tensioners and seat belt force limiters
  • Child locks on rear doors
  • Connected pack professional - X3
  • Automatic tailgate operation
  • Stop/start system
  • Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked: 750
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 65
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Down): 1600
  • Max. Loading Weight: 665
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 2400
  • Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb: 12
  • Minimum Kerbweight: 1735
  • No. of Seats: 5
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: 2000
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Up): 550
  • Max. Roof Load: 100
  • NCAP Child Occupant Protection %: 84
  • NCAP Pedestrian Protection %: 70
  • NCAP Safety Assist %: 58
  • Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07: 29E
  • Service Interval Frequency - Months: 24
  • Timing Belt Interval Mileage: N
  • Service Interval Mileage: 15500
  • Vehicle Homologation Class: M1
  • Timing Belt Interval Frequency - Months: N
  • Manufacturers Paintwork Guarantee - Years: 3
  • Alternative Fuel Qualifying: False
  • Safety Concerns: False
  • Coin Description: i
  • NCAP Overall Rating - Effective February 09: 5
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Years: 3
  • Badge Power: 184
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Mileage: 999999
  • Special Order: False
  • Generation Mark: 3
  • NCAP Adult Occupant Protection %: 93
  • Coin Series: M Sport
  • Badge Engine CC: 2.0
  • Special Edition: False
  • Based On ID: N
  • Man Corrosion Perforation Guarantee - Years: 6
  • Height: 1676
  • Wheelbase: 2864
  • Height (including roof rails): N
  • Width: 1891
  • Length: 4708
  • Width (including mirrors): 2138
  • Engine Torque - MKG: 30.6
  • Engine Torque - LBS.FT: 221
  • Engine Power - KW: 135
  • Engine Torque - NM: 300
  • Engine Torque - RPM: 1350
  • Engine Power - PS: True
  • 0 to 62 mph (secs): 8.3
  • Top Speed: 133
  • Engine Power - RPM: 5000
  • Engine Power - BHP: 184
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb: 35.8
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium - Min: N
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High - Min: N
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb: 7.9
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - Min: 7.8
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low - Min: N
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High - Max: N
  • WLTP - MPG - High: 41.5
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High - Max: N
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High: 6.8
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Extra High: 8
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium - Max: N
  • EC Urban (mpg): 36.2
  • WLTP - MPG - High - Min: N
  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: False
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High - Min: N
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - Max: 34
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium - Max: N
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High - Min: N
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium: 7.8
  • EC Extra Urban (mpg): 46.3
  • WLTP - MPG - Low - Min: N
  • WLTP - MPG - Extra High: 35.3
  • WLTP - MPG - Medium: 36.2
  • EC Combined (mpg): 42.2
  • WLTP - MPG - Low: 28
  • WLTP - MPG - Comb - Min: 36.2
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - High - Max: N
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Medium - Min: N
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low: 10.1
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - Max: 8.3
  • WLTP - MPG - High - Max: N
  • WLTP - MPG - Low - Max: N
  • WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Low - Max: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb: 179
  • CO2 (g/km): 154
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - Max: 189
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - High - Max: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - High: 154
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Low - Max: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Low - Min: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Low: 230
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Medium - Max: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Medium - Min: N
  • HC+NOx: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb - Min: 178
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Medium: 177
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - High - Min: N
  • Particles: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Extra High - Max: N
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Extra High: 183
  • WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Extra High - Min: N
  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • Fuel Delivery: TURBO DIRECT INJECTION
  • Engine Layout: NORTH SOUTH
  • Gears: 8 SPEED
  • Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
  • Camshaft: DOHC
  • CC: 1998
  • Transmission: SEMI-AUTO
  • Catalytic Convertor: True
  • Engine Code: B48B20M1
  • Cylinders - Bore (mm): 82
  • Number of Valves: 16
  • Cylinders - Stroke (mm): 94.6
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder Layout: IN-LINE
  • Alloys: True
  • Wheel Type: 19" ALLOY
  • Space Saver: False
  • Tyre Size Rear: 245/50 R19
  • Wheel Style: M DOUBLE SPOKE
  • Tyre Size Front: 245/50 R19
  • Tyre Size Spare: TYRE REPAIR KIT
  • Emissions Test Cycle: WLTP
  • RDE Certification Level: RDE 2