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BMW X3: Test Drive Review

Date: 10 December 2010   |   Author: Rachel Burgess

Category: Small 4x4
P11D price: £31,805
Key rival: Audi Q5

The new BMW X3 comes with a host of improvements over its predecessor, most notably for fleet operators a steep reduction in CO2 emissions from 172g/km to 149g/km (or 147g/km for auto).

This means official figures of 50.4mpg compared with the previous model's 43.5mpg, yet it is also faster, up 0.4secs to 8.5secs.

It's a far more competitive sector than when the X3 arrived in 2003 - while it was always up against the Land Rover Freelander, it is now fighting for sector share with the likes of the Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60.

Brian Cox, product manager for the X series, said the brand hopes for a 17% share of the segment, while 4800 units are expected to sell in the first 12 months.

BMW has kept the range simple with one 2.0-litre 184hp diesel engine available in six-speed manual and eight-speed auto transmission. An M-Sport version will start production in April next year.

BMW has achieved a £115 drop in list price for the car, while adding standard equipment including leather upholstery, front and rear parking sensors and its central console iDrive controller. It's also 83mm longer, 2.8mm wider and fractionally taller than the outgoing X3, which means there is 20mm more space for front and rear passengers, says Cox.

A popular criticism of the previous X3 was bad ride quality, due to BMW's notion that trendy buyers would want a sporty feel, which meant a far-too-firm suspension. This was duly noted, and the new car is much improved on this front. The engine is also responsive and the eight-speed auto makes its way through the gears effortlessly.

Handling isn't bad either, although body roll around corners isn't as well controlled as could be expected.

The interior is everything you expect of a BMW - on a long European journey, the iPod function kept me easily occupied and seats were comfortable, although the leather seats would have been less so in sub-zero temperatures if it weren't for the efficient heated-seat button.

As the most environmentally car in the sector, BMW stands up against its rivals. It has the lowest CO2 at 147g/km, with the notably higher Volvo XC60, at 179g/km (for auto), as the next best thing. It's also class-leading for RVs at 45%, with its closest competitor the Audi Q5 at 42%. Unsurprisingly, then, its whole-life costs are the best at 63.1 pence per mile. This new X3 should definitely be the fleet driver's compact 4x4 of choice.

BMW x3 xDrive20d SE auto
P11D price£31,805
Model price range£30,490-£31,985
Lease per month£612
Service, maintenance & repair £2331
Vehicle Excise Duty£375
National Insurance£2897
Cost per mile63.1ppm
Fuel consumption50.4mpg
CO2 (tax) 147g/km/(21%)
BIK 20/40% per month£111/£223
Service intervalvariable mls
Insurancegroup 28
Warranty3yrs/unlimited mls
Boot space (min/max)550/1600 litres
Engine size/power1995cc/182hp
Top speed/0-62mph130mph/8.5secs
On sale November 2010
VerdictThe car of choice
in this sector


The car of choice in this sector