Third time lucky for impressive BMW X3

BMW X3: Hugh Maguire has high praise for BMW's latest

Third time lucky for impressive BMW X3

The original BMW X3 was launched away back in 2003 and actually was not built by BMW themselves but by Magna Steyr in Austria.

That car was their first attempt to get into the mid-size SUV segment and while it sold reasonably well no doubt due to the BMW badge it really was not up to standard with poor dynamics and some questionable quality of materials.

The second attempt was better by a good margin and sales grew further. Now we have an all-new BMW X3 and this third generation of the model is superb! Third time lucky then for BMW in an extremely competitive segment of the market.

The new X3 comes in SE, X-Line or M-Sport versions all powered by a 2.0 litre turbo diesel with permanent “intelligent” all wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic gearbox. A 3.0d is also available as is a petrol powered M40i.

The new X3 is a very impressive looking SUV particularly in X-Line trim with that lovely chrome BMW “Kidney” shaped grill, matt aluminium side trims and chrome roof rails, all nicely set off by the multi spoke 19 inch alloy wheels. Its bigger too at 51mm longer than the old model, but clever use of aluminium in the doors and bonnet help keep weight down.

Equally impressive is the new interior, with soft touch materials, sports seats high quality full leather trim, selectable ambient lighting and a host of nice to have standard features.

The fit and finish is beyond reproach with a real air of excellence about the whole cabin. I love the piano black finish around the centre console my only small gripe being that you have to pay over €1,000 for BMW Professional Nav to get the large rectangular centre screen.

Without this you get a rather small looking but adequate screen. The drive has also been upgraded.

Standard kit on the X-Line version is excellent but worthy of particular mention are the 19 inch Ferric Grey alloys, twin chrome tailpipes, matt aluminium look rear diffuser, matt aluminium side skirt trim, heated seats, LED headlights (superb at night), electric rear tailgate, Navigation, auto dipping rear mirrors, BMW Connected Drive, ambient lighting with a choice of colours, individual heating controls for the rear passengers, digitally generated instruments but in analog style, reversing camera, parking sensors, and hill descent control. Accommodation is excellent with loads of leg and headroom both from and rear.

The 550 litre boot is big and with seats folded extends to 1600 litres.

Powered by BMW’s tried and tested 2.0 litre twin turbo diesel, mated to a silky smooth 8-speed “Steptronic” gearbox with paddle shifts it produces a healthy 190 bhp and a hefty 400NM.

I was impressed with the performance considering the size and weight of the all wheel drive X3.

On average it burned 6.1 litres per 100km giving a real range of about 900km between refuels. Road tax is €290.00

BMW’s sales pitch is that their cars are better to drive than rivals. The X3 is up against the Mercedes GLC, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC-60 and I can tell you it is certainly more rewarding to drive than rivals.

The nicely weighted steering, a lovely suspension set-up and tenacious grip even on wet greasy roads make this SUV stand out for its driving dynamics. Its refined too, with a quiet serene cabin.

Prices start at €58,580 for the X3 SE, the X-Line version tested starts at €59,950.

The new X3 is finally a car you would desire, it has style, pace and panache in abundance. It will fulfil all the SUV type family needs while also pleasing the more demanding driver.

I liked it very much and it gets my highest recommendation.