- Fantastic to drive
- High-class interior
- Exceptional standard kit
- No petrol-powered option
- No real eco-friendly model
- Looks may not be to everyone's taste
BMW’s mid-range SUV offers smooth ride, and great cabin
Sitting comfortably between the compact X1, and the huge X5, the X3 is BMW’s attempt at a mid-sized luxury SUV. When the first BMW X3 was first introduced in 2003 it was met with fairly negative reviews. It simply didn’t live up to what people expect from a BMW. The latest model, introduced first in 2010, was presented with huge improvements. With an updated interior, more modern technology, and much-improved ride quality, the X3 finally met the expectations of BMW buyers.
2014 saw slight changes made to the X1, with an updated engine range, and a minor facelift.
Impressive interior and class-leading infotainment
The interior of the X3 is up there with the best. There’s a genuine feel of quality in the cabin, that’s not matched by a lot of its rivals. It’s still not quite as splendid as the Audi Q5, but it’s certainly impressive.
When you step inside the X3, you’re instantly greeted by a well-thought out, well-designed dash. Made from soft-touch plastics, and finished off with metal design touches, there is a feeling of solidity that we’ve come to expect from a BMW. Most of the design and materials are borrowed from cars lower down the BMW range, which is a little disappointing, but as with any BMW, it’s solidly put together.
When it comes to space, the X3 impresses. With 550 litres of boot capacity, it outdoes both the Audi Q5 and the Volvo XC60 in terms of practicality. The opening to the boot is also wide, which means that getting tricky items in and out of the X3 a doddle. There’s also automatic tailgate access for added ease-of-use, and there’s the option of the Extended Storage package, which adds in further storage underneath the boot floor.
Equipment levels on the X3 are exceptional. The entry level SE trim comes with pretty much everything you’re going to need: Automatic headlights and wipers, climate control, cruise control, heated leather seats, and alloy wheels all come as standard. There’s also the brilliant iDrive infotainment system, that incorporates sat-nav, Bluetooth, and a DAB radio. This system is incredibly easy to use, and is one of the best on the market.
As you’d expect from a BMW, the X3 is an absolute pleasure to be in. It’s high-quality, practical, spacious, and features excellent levels of standard equipment, and with the fantastic iDrive system, you’re sure to be entertained.
Class-leading handling and refinement
BMW is a brand that prides itself on giving customers the ‘ultimate driving machine’. You would expect that they’d struggle to do this in a family-sized SUV, but thankfully this isn’t so. For such a big car, it handles b-roads without any fuss at all, as well as keeping you involved. The chassis is well thought out, and body roll is kept under check, meaning you can put your foot on the accelerator that little bit harder without worrying whether the car can cope.
It’s also an incredibly comfortable ride. The suspension copes with all but the worst potholes, and feels comfy round town as well. M Sport models are noticeably stiffer, as they have a more performance-based setup, but even these models aren’t bone-shudderingly stiff. Optional adaptive dampers improve comfort even further, if you really want to be cushioned over rough roads.
Gearbox options in the X3 come in the form of a 6-speed manual, and a smooth 8-speed automatic. Both options are decent, with the automatic in particular impressing. Found throughout the BMW range, the 8-speed auto has won many plaudits for its efficiency in moving through the gears.
Diesel only here, but some pretty impressive options
When it comes to choosing how you want to power your X3, you’ve got one option- diesel. Whilst some buyers might be put off by this limited choice of powerplant, the diesel engines in the range offer everything from low-powered efficiency, to high-powered speed machines.
If it is speed that you’re concerned with, the most impressive engine in the range is to be found in the xDrive35d M Sport, which packs in a cool 313bhp. This will get you from 0-62mph in a ridiculously quick 5.3 seconds. That’s enough to match some out-and-out sports cars. It’ll also make Sunday drives out with the family that little bit more entertaining.
If it’s eco-credentials you’re concerned with, the stand-out choice is the xDrive20d M Sport. It’s surprising that a sport-orientated model is the most eco-friendly, but with just 136g/km of C02 being emitted, it’s the best in the lineup. It might not be incredibly impressive, but it’s sure to save you a fair bit of dosh on road tax. This model also happens to be the most fuel-efficient in the range, offering up 54.3mpg. For a car this size that’s pretty impressive, and with the money saved from road tax, and the money saved on fuel, you can afford to treat the family that little bit more.
Whichever engine you go for in your X3, you can be assured that it’s going to be reasonably efficient, and have enough power to get you where you need to be going with ease. A genuine eco-friendly option may disappoint some, but there’s rumours of a hybrid option that may well appear in the future.
Full marks in NCAP safety tests with good safety features as standard
Like most cars in its class, the BMW X3 easily achieved the highest possible 5-star NCAP safety rating. Whilst it may not have quite as good figures as the Audi Q5, it still managed an impressive 88% in adult safety, and 83% in child safety. There is also a fair amount of safety kit that comes as standard. You’re going to get six airbags, stability control, and a tyre-pressure monitoring system whichever model you go for. Optional safety equipment includes the Driving Assistant Plus package, which adds adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking. For the more safety conscious buyer, this might be worth considering.
Competitive running costs
The BMW X1 range offers models that are reasonably cheap to run, especially compared to some of its main rivals. It varies from model to model, but generally CO2 levels, and fuel consumption rates are pretty impressive.
Insurance wise, it also depends on which spec you go for. The range starts at insurance group 23 for the sDrive18d SE, and ranges up to group 43 for the powerful xDrive35d M Sport. These might not be particularly cheap, but they are on a par with nearly all of its closest rivals.
Depreciation after the first year is actually pretty impressive for the X3. But with first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The BMW X3 is a great option to consider when searching for a mid-sized luxury SUV. It packs in an impressive interior, a good range of diesel engines, and excellent comfort. For the family buyer who enjoys practicality without compromising on driving experience, the X3 is the car to look out for.
Buying a used BMW X3 online with Carspring
If you’re after a used BMW X3 for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used X3. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used BMW online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used X3? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used BMW X3, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used BMW, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used BMW to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st year depreciation cost of 40%.