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BMW's X3 offers many of the attributes of their all-conquering X5 SUV in a more manageably sized package. June Neary tries the third generation version for size.
Added 15th November, 2019
For most buyers, an X1 would make far more sense than BMW's comparably-sized 3 Series Touring - and there aren't too many reasons to pay more for the Bavarian brand's larger X3 model either. As for appeal within this X1's market segment, well it's more practical, slightly cheaper to run and classier to sit in than Audi and Mercedes rivals.
Are there downsides? Not many. A few enthusiastic drivers might miss the previous generation model's rear-driven handling balance, but there aren't too many buyers of that sort shopping in this segment. More significant is the fact that opting for one of these now requires quite a price stretch if you started out looking at a mainstream-branded Qashqai-class family-sized Crossover - even quite a nice one. Still, make that step and you'll be getting yourself a much higher quality product that'll pay back quite a lot of its price premium at resale time.
BMW's M3 carries an illustrious badge but that doesn't appear too big a burden for this 510hp powerhouse. Jonathan Crouch reports.
BMW's M4 Competition carries an illustrious badge but that doesn't appear too big a burden for this 510hp powerhouse. Jonathan Crouch reports.
This X3 has come of age in third generation guise. If it struggles to match the profitability of its predecessor, then that'll be because competition in the premium mid-sized SUV sector is so much tougher these days. This model is, after all, an immeasurable improvement over the MK2 version in every possible way. Even the best of this car's prestige rivals can't match this one's hugely impressive blend of handling and efficiency. It feels up-market, it rides impressively and, thank goodness, on-tarmac, it drives just as a BMW should.
All of which means that buyers in this sector who can afford the asking price should find that this X3 adds up very nicely indeed. Assuming that they don't prioritise off road ability of course: few will. A vehicle this good ought to speak for itself. Try one and we think you'll find that it does.
Elsewhere, you may have read or seen that this seventh generation 'G30' 5 Series has been pronounced as the class-leader in the full-sized Executive segment. We're not about to disagree with that assessment. A comparable Jaguar XF is lovely to drive. And a rival Mercedes E-Class is technologically advanced and great to ride in. But with the 5 Series, we think you get the best that these two competitors can offer - plus a little more.
Whether you prioritise clever gadgetry, hi-tech engineering or sharp running costs in your full-sized Executive car, this BMW operates from an agenda that will certainly impress. Conservatively styled it may be: conservative in outlook it certainly isn't.
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