BMW X3 SUV Review
The first generation of the BMW was their 2nd SUV after the larger X5. Whilst the early X5 took a lot of styling cues from the 5-Series and 3-Series, the early X3 appeared to have been designed in a dark room. It was ugly and the lines just did not flow. The latest X3 though is streets ahead, not only taking its styling from the 3-Series but it works. The lines are good, everything is in proportion and it is a little bigger too, allowing for the growth of the X5 to compete more with the Audi Q7, Volvo XC90 et al.
The market for the mid-size SUV is most certainly saturated with the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60, Mercedes GLC, Nissan X-Trail, Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage¦.. What the X3 appears to bring however is a more assertive stance with a focus on the driving dynamics. It will almost certainly perform poorly in any real off-road situation (as would the rest), however most X3’s will go no further off-road than up the kerb. On-the-road however, it handles excellently. It is taut, with a direct feel and little body roll when navigating country lanes at pace. All round visibility is excellent too.
Specification wise, BMW has definitely moved away from its reputation of everything being an option (even the stereo), the X3 is well appointed. Air Conditioning, Bluetooth Hands Free, Satellite Navigation, DAB Radio/CD, Leather Upholstery, Front & Rear Parking Sensors, Heated Front Seats, Electric Tailgate and 17³ Alloy Wheels are all standard on the entry level SE model which starts at a shade over £33,000. There is little more you could need over this spec level. The xLine adds larger 18³ Alloy Wheels, and some trim changes, but for a £1500 premium it is hard to justify the cost.
The ever popular M Sport trim level adds far more with 19³ Alloy Wheels, the M Body Styling, M Sport Suspension, Sport Auto Transmission, and Front Sports Seats. For a premium of £4,660 it represents better value than the xLine however you would need to really dislike the SE styling to plump up for the M Sport. The cabin is spacious without feeling cavernous. Even the tallest driver can sit comfortably without sacrificing too much rear seat room. Fitting 3 proper child seats across the back will always be an issue in all but the largest SUV’s and the X3 is no exception, however it can relatively comfortably seat 5 on all but very long journeys. Boot space is reasonable enough too.
Engine wise, there are only diesel engines available starting with the 190hp 20d. This 2.0l diesel will comfortably take you from 0-62 in 8.1s and return good economy of around 50-55mpg combined. As mentioned above, the focus with the X3 is on driver experience and these figures are good. However, if you want a little more oomph, the 3.0l 258hp 30d engine will drop your 0-62 considerably down to 5.9s whilst keeping economy still strong at around 48mpg. The range topping 3.0l 35d, producing an impressive 313hp will drop your 0-62 down to 5.3s with very little hit on the mpg compared to the 30d.
Overall the latest generation BMW X3 is an attractive proposition with a vast improvement over its predecessor. It is large enough for most people, taking some of the X5 market.
As a company car proposition, the X3 20d SE is not a bad proposition, the BIK rate is only 27% due to its low emissions of a mere 136g/km and monthly leasing costs under £400+VAT on a standard 3+35 contract doing 10,000 miles per annum. Spot deals have been seen bringing the price to under £300+VAT a month and the notably more expensive to buy M Sport variant is little more to lease than the SE due to the excellent residual values which means the M Sport will certainly be very popular.
If you would like to find out more about leasing the BMW X3, please contact JKS Fleet on 01223 911 761 or complete our online application form below.