The BMW X3’s dynamic focus gives it adroit handling and the engines are eager – and in the 30i and 30d, potent. If you can live with the ride comfort compromise that results from the X3’s fixation on sportiness, you’ll enjoy driving it.
The happy, effective and economical pairing of each engine and the eight-speed automatic gearbox makes the BMW smooth, agreeable and easy to drive in the city, and effervescent on country roads, where gearchanges are swift.
The 30i and 30d have muscle, which is terrific for sporty driving and for effortless overtaking and hill climbing, but the steering feels a little remote.
In contrast the least costly X3, the 20i, (due in March 2018) will have enough accessible grunt for easy urban and highway driving, and the power reserves to keep up with most traffic when asked to climb hills. Unlike the other three models it is front-wheel-drive only.
The 20d sits in between, offering some of the 30i and 30d’s effortless feel, but not their ultimate oomph, or the high-speed enthusiasm of the 30i.
The BMW X3 is an above average off-roader among compact SUVs, with effective all-wheel-drive and a hill-descent control system standard in the 20d, 30i and 30d. Nevertheless, this breed of high-riding wagon won’t get you much further down the beaten track than an all-wheel-drive passenger car.
Keen drivers might want to wait until later in 2018, when the BMW M40i
arrives, with a 3.0-litre turbocharged 265kW/500Nm straight-six petrol engine under the bonnet. It will be capable of reaching 100km/h from a standing start in 4.8-seconds, thanks to its launch control system, making it quicker than its Audi SQ5 and Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 rivals.
The M40i’s will also have sportscar-like handling with Adaptive M Suspension, M Sport exhaust system and brakes, an M Sport differential and 21-inch alloy wheels as standard.