BMW X3 review - strong engines make this SUV impressive

Adam Towler
15 Dec 2015

Do you really need an X5?

Evo Rating: 
Decent to drive, strong diesel and petrol engines, quality interior tech
Bested by Macan dynamically, numb steering, slightly stiff ride

evo Verdict

The X3 has matured during the past five years, and from rather awkward beginnings with the first generation model is now a highly competent product. As the X5 has grown, so the X3 has moved into territory once held by its big brother, possessing a more manageable footprint on the road while still offering plenty of space inside.

The all-diesel engine range is one of the X3’s strongest features, and while the 2-litre xDrive20d is never going to be seen as an enthusiast choice, its performance on paper is actually entirely respectable. Its fuel consumption and emissions are excellent, too, but it can’t compete with the smooth, torque – albeit more expensive- performance of the straight six models.

As a driver’s SUV the X3 is hampered by numb power steering and a ride that can be abrupt, but while it can’t match a Porsche Macan, it’s still towards the more dynamic end of the medium-sized SUV spectrum.

evo Tip

5-series Touring with the same engine is a smidge quicker, but costs seven grand extra and has barely more boot space. If you must have an SUV, there’s really nothing to match the X3’s speed, economy and more compact size (the most powerful diesel Range Rover Evoques and Audi Q5s have at least 70bhp less). You need to sail past £50K and buy the behemoth (and 30mpg) Audi Q7 4.2 TDI for similar performance.

evo Summary

A highly competitive market segment sees BMW enter with what is ultimately a very strong product. The X3 boasts good engines, isn't hugely dull to drive and has a quality interior loaded with tech.

Read more about:

Experience the thrill of driving every month with evo magazine, devoted exclusively to the greatest performance cars in the world. If you're passionate about performance cars then evo is your ultimate monthly read.