BMW X3 (2010 – 2018) Review
BMW X3 (2010 – 2018) At A Glance
Sold between 2010 and 2017, the second-generation BMW X3 brought more space and a focus on on-road handling to this popular SUV. You’ll find xDrive four-wheel-drive versions are still able to head into the woods, but some rivals manage to go further. Given how well the X3 handles on tarmac, though, it would almost be a shame to get it dirty. Engine choices are diesel only, but range from frugal through to a fearsome twin-turbocharged model. Standard equipment is plentiful, with X3s made after the post-2014 facelift having the classiest interior. It all makes for a premium SUV that handles family life with ease.
The original BMW X3 felt a little bit rough and ready, with a cramped interior and compromised manners on the road. Lessons were clearly learnt by the German brand, however, as the second-generation X3, launched in 2010, fixed many of the complaints about the previous version.
In short, BMW fixed the lack of interior space, addressed the on-road dynamics and took steps to improve the quality of the interior. The result was a practical and desirable SUV that manages to deliver a rare degree of fun.
The X3 outshines the rival Audi Q5, and gives the sportier Porsche Macan real competition for being the ultimate driving machine. This is aided by light but accurate steering, with the big wheels generating plenty of grip.
Such ability comes with a downside. To make a large SUV drive like a sportier saloon, BMW fitted the X3 with stiffer suspension. It results in a harder ride than you might imagine, so abandon any ideas of cruising on pillow-like comfort.
The SE and xLine versions are not as badly affected, but still feel taut, whereas the M Sport is on another level. It has bespoke suspension settings that can be very firm with optional bigger wheels. Tellingly, BMW did offer an option to delete the M Sport suspension on these cars.
Viewed through modern eyes, BMW’s decision to sell the X3 with diesel-only engine options might seem a little strange. Yet it was what the market demanded for a premium SUV back in 2010, and they do suit the nature of the X3 well. Choices range from four-cylinder units through to a truly impressive twin-turbocharged straight-six with 313PS. The latter offers a fantastic blend of performance and economy.
Not all X3 models come with BMW’s xDrive four-wheel-drive system. In 2012, the sDrive version was launched, featuring a rear-wheel-drive layout aimed at road use only. X3s equipped with four-wheel drive can venture further than you might think on muddy tracks, but try not to get carried away.
The 2014 facelift brought a major improvement in the level of the X3’s interior quality. With sturdier trim and more technology inside, they are more desirable than the earlier cars. Features such as satellite navigation and heating elements for the leather-clad front seats became standard equipment.
Regardless of age, the X3 offers enough space to comfortably seat four adults, although adding a fifth to the centre rear seat can be a squeeze. The boot is generous, with 550 litres of luggage capacity making it bigger than rivals like the Porsche Macan.
Having atoned for the errors of the original, there is plenty to recommend about the second-generation BMW X3. Post-2014 models in particular deliver on the expectations of a premium SUV, with a classy interior and ability both on and off the road.