BMW X3 Road Test (2012)

BMW X3 (Interior View) (2012)
83%

BMW X3 Review

BMW X3 ReviewBMW X3 Review  | Part Two

The new BMW X3 is dramatically and dynamically better than its predecessor.

Comfort and Refinement

The BMW X3 is available in both SE and M Sport trims, each providing a different level of standard equipment.

The BMW X3 SE

Outline specification includes - 17" light alloy V-spoke style 304, Air conditioning, automatic with two-zone control, Ambient interior lighting, Auxiliary input point for auxiliary playing devices, BMW Professional radio with single CD player (with MP3 playback capability), Cruise control with brake function, Drive Performance Control (ECO PRO, Comfort and Sport modes), Electric Power Steering,  Exterior mirrors – aspheric, heated with electric adjustment, High level third brake light, iDrive Controller with 6.5" colour display screen, Satin Silver Interior trim, Loudspeaker system with five speakers, Multi-function leather steering wheel, Nevada leather upholstery,  Front and rear Park Distance Control (PDC), Rain sensor with automatic headlight activation, Satin Aluminium Roof rails, Six-speed manual transmission, xDrive four-wheel-drive system with fully-variable torque split

The BMW X3 M Sport adds to the SE spec

18" light alloy M Star-spoke style 368 M, Drive Performance Control with ECO PRO, Comfort, Sport modes and Sport+ mode on xDrive35d, Exterior trim High-gloss Shadowline, Anthracite Headlining, Brushed Aluminium Interior trim, M leather steering wheel (with steering wheel paddles for xDrive35d only) and Front Sports seats.

We tested the BMW X3 xDrive30d M Sport fitted with £8,450 of optional extras which on the face of it is a lot of money to spend on top of the list price and if you are concerned about residual values you would have to consider each option carefully. There is no doubt that most options will make your X3 more desirable at re-sale time but whether you will see any financial benefit is always questionable.

When we looked through the options list we would have wanted all the options on our own car – so it is a case of grinning and bearing the cost.

Variable Damper Control (VDC) (£930) which adds electronically controlled dampers. We liked the fact that you could alter the dynamics of the car at will this option made a lot of difference - adapting the X3 to your preferences, i.e. you could change the chassis/suspension and/or steering assistance.

Reversing Assist camera with Top View (£530) – helpful when parking, you can squeeze into very tight spaces, without any risk of kerbing your car – useful off road to see what is around you.

Luggage compartment separating net (£125) and Extended storage (£155) – should be included for free. Front Seat heating (£295) and Electric seat adjustment with lumbar support (£235) should be included for free. Split-folding (40:20:40) rear seats (£170) 60:40 is standard – should be a no cost option.

Sun protection glass (£300) – “anti aging glass” – yes a good idea but we guess you can live without it.

Head-up Display (£950) – on most cars that we have tested with this we have not been that impressed however on the X3 we would want it. Not only is your speed projected onto the windscreen, but navigation directions and cruise control setting are shown. It is adjustable for driver height and is linked to driver preferences.

DAB digital radio (£325), yes so we can listen to a wider choice of radio stations. Loudspeaker system - BMW Business (£400), we weren’t overly impressed by the audio performance, which is of course subjective – it adds a 205W digital amplifier with 12 loudspeakers.

Media package - Professional Multimedia (£2,515) adds BMW assist, online portal and enhanced Bluetooth, USB interface and Professional Navigation. Which includes a DVD drive, functional bookmarks, integrated hard drive for audio files and navigation data, 3D maps with satellite images, Real Time Traffic Information and a high-resolution 8.8" colour display. It is a very expensive option but it is first class, we particularly liked being able to zoom out and get some idea in 3D of the forthcoming terrain.

Visibility package (£1,520) comprises Adaptive Xenon headlights, high beam assist and auto diming external mirrors. Again an expensive option but if you like to see where you are going it is worth considering – not that keen on the high beam assist as it is a bit hit and miss on winding country lanes.

Overall you are probably going to want to add options to the X3, so you have to allow for these in your budget, of course it is all about personalisation.

Safety and Security

In 2011 the BMW X3 was tested by EuroNCAP and was awarded five-stars – adult occupant 88%, child occupant 83%, pedestrian 53% and safety assist 71%. This compares to the Range Rover Evoque which also scored five-stars adult occupant 86%, child occupant 75%, pedestrian 41% and safety assist 86%.

Standard safety equipment includes front, side and curtain airbags, a tyre pressure monitor, anti-lock brakes, Dynamic Stability Control with traction control, cornering brake control, dynamic brake control, hill-start assistant and hill-descent control.

Infotainment

Our test car was equipped with BMW’s Multimedia Package (£2,515) which adds BMW assist, online portal and enhanced Bluetooth, USB interface and Professional Navigation. Which includes a DVD drive, functional bookmarks, integrated hard drive for audio files and navigation data, 3D maps with satellite images, Real Time Traffic Information and a high-resolution 8.8" colour display.

The iDrive controller was easy to use, which not only controls the navigation but other features on the car through a series of logical menus – you should not need a manual to operate the radio or navigate home.

We also benefitted from a DAB tuner which at £325 is not cheap but with the wide variety of radio channels, it may well be worth thinking about – if it loses the DAB signal it will jump to the corresponding FM frequency, if there is one.

Our X3 also had the BMW Business Loudspeaker system (£400), we weren’t overly impressed by the audio performance but on the other hand it is perfectly acceptable.

Rivals
  • Audi Q5
  • Land Rover Freelander
  • Range Rover Evoque
  • Volkswagen Tiguan
  • Volvo XC60
What We Liked
  • Exterior & interior styling
  • Performance
  • Low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
  • Handling
  • Build quality
What We Disliked
  • Only the cost of the options extras and in our opinion some of the items on this list should be standard
What We Would Like To See
  • Not a lot, only that some options should be standard
Conclusion

The new BMW X3 is dramatically and dynamically better than its predecessor.

If you wonder why the X3 is relatively expensive then you need to look at how well it is engineered and built as we mentioned before you only have to look at boot tonneau cover to see how well the X3 is put together.

The BMW X3 is excellent, undoubtedly the best compact SUV you can buy combined with superb engines, low CO2 emissions and class-leading handling.

14 April 2012 Melanie Carter
BMW X3 ReviewBMW X3 Review  | Part Two
BMW X3 Road Test Data
Model ReviewedBMW X3
  
Body Type5-door SUV
ColourSpace Grey Metallic
  
Performance (manufacturers data) 
  
0 - 62 mph6.2 Seconds
Top Speed 130 mph
  
Transmission8-Speed Automatic
  
Fuel TypeDiesel
  
CO2 Emissions (NEDC Figures) g/km
  
Economy (NEDC Figures) 
  
Urban41.5 mpg
Extra Urban50.4 mpg
Combined47.1 mpg
  
Insurance Group33
Euro NCAP Rating5-stars
Warranty3 Years / Unlimited Miles
Price (when tested on the 14/04/12)£40,270

The information contained within this BMW X3 review may have changed since publication on the 14 April 2012. The actual model road tested may feature options and functionality specific to that model, which may not be available as on option or be fitted to other models in the range. Options may not be available on UK specification cars. You may wish to check with your local BMW dealer, before making a purchasing decision. E.&.O.E. You may NOT reproduce this car review in full or part, in any format without our written permission. carpages.co.uk © 2017