Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016
- Gives superb handling on the road
- Spacious interior
- Some off-road capabilities
- Extremely firm ride
- Poor quality interior trim levels
- Expensive compared to similar alternatives
The X3 is not the most eye catching of cars and the interior leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to the quality of materials used inside, however, saying that there is plenty of space inside with more than enough leg and head room in both the front and back seats. The boot that is more than capable of holding a families luggage for a week away but, the real selling factor for the X3 is its handling. It is superb for a car for this size with sharp handling, minimal body roll and plenty of grip in the corners making you feel like you're in a much smaller car.
Exterior and Interior
The X3 may not be a stunning car to look at, but the facelift in 2007 went some way to improving it. As for the interior there are stacks of room inside with plenty of room for four people to sit comfortably. It is sold as a five seater, but the transmission tunnel takes up vital leg space in the back and with a third passenger shoulder space is a bit tight. The middle seat also folds down to serve as an armrest for the two back seat passenger and comes with two cup holders and a storage box for added comfort. The boot is spacious to say the least with room enough for a families luggage for a week away and the split folding back seats do fold forwards to increase the load space, but the don't fold flat.
All of the seats are comfortable and supportive making loner journeys enjoyable rather than crippling. However, the quality of the interior is poor. For the price you pay for the X3 you would like to see high quality materials being used throughout but this isn't the case. The dash is logically and clearly laid out though which is good and there are buttons on the steering wheel that control the stereo and cruise control so you don't have to fiddle around on the dash and both hands can be kept on the wheel at all times. When it comes to selecting the trim go for the SE as it comes with the most kit and also comes with plenty of optional extras too that includes ABS, alloys, CD stereo, MP3 and iPod auxiliary port, cruise control, parking sensors, electric windows, airbags all round and traction control.
Performance and Economy
The entry level 2.0i petrol starts the ball rolling with its 147bhp and a fairly economical 30mpg. It is the slowest engine across the range at 11.1 seconds from 0-60mph and it does struggle at times especially when fully loaded. The original 190bhp 2.5i engine is quicker at 8.6 seconds, but the fuel efficiency dips down to just 25mpg. The 215bhp unit introduced in 2007 does a much better job being even quicker at 8.2 seconds from 0-60mph and the fuel efficiency is increased to 30mpg to match the smaller 2.0i. The 3.0i with 230bhp is marginally faster going from 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds, but the fuel efficiency drops down to 23mpg to achieve this. The top of the range 3.0i with 270bhp is a good all rounder being the quickest at 7.3 seconds from 0-60mph and achieves 29mpg.
The X3 was originally launched with the 2.0d that was fairly quick at 9.9 seconds from 0-60mph, but wasn't overly economical at 39mpg. The xDrive18d that was introduced in 2009 uses the same engine, but with less power but it is only a split second slower from 0-60mph and gains 6mpg taking the fuel efficiency up to 45mpg. The 2.0d that was introduced in 2007 is a good all rounder offering good performance going from 0-60mph in 8.6 seconds and also achieves 43mpg offering the best all round performance. The 3.0d is surprisingly quick going from a standing start to 60mph in 7.2 seconds and achieves 38mpg. The top of the range 3.0sd (later called the xDrive35sd) is a phenomenal engine with its twin turbo's giving plenty of power and low down pull which propels the X3 from 0-60mph in just 6.2 seconds and achieves a respectable 36mpg. When it comes to insuring the X3 the entry level models start at group 16 working their way up to group 18 with all of them coming with very high premiums.
Like to Drive
If you though that the ample space inside was a surprise then the driving experience should blow your mind with its sharp handling, minimal body roll and plenty of grip in the corners. You will be forgiven for thinking you were in a much smaller vehicle. The driving position is perfect too with plenty of adjustments so you can find the prefect position and the elevated driving position gives good views of the road ahead. It is fairly good off road being able to tackle most things, but don't think it can take the place of a Range Rover. The down side though is that to get such superb handling for such a big car the suspension has been stiffened making for an extremely firm ride that becomes unsettled on rougher surfaces.
Faults and Repairs
There have been no major problems in the X3 and no recalls either, but some electrical glitches do crop up every now and again. Make sure to test everything on the X3 you are looking at to make sure it doesn't suffer from any of these. Also listen out for thumps coming from the suspension and also test the breaks as these have proven to be a weak point over the years. The parking sensors also fail occasionally so make sure they are working too if you are looking at a model that has them fitted. When it comes to servicing BMW hourly prices are a lot higher than the average so be prepared to fork out a lot.