Wine bores (sorry, connoisseurs) will tell you that adult grape juice gets better with age. This is certainly true of the third-generation BMW X3. The first iteration sold well but was a bit naff; the second was considerably better; but the current car from 2018 is the finest yet and it’s far cheaper than a similarly aged X5, despite being arguably just as practical.
The engine range consists of two petrols and three diesels that all come equipped with four-wheel drive and a very smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox. The 184bhp 20i is fine for those who do lots of urban driving, but the 187bhp 20d is likely to be of more interest, due to its deeper reserves of torque and lower fuel consumption. For more performance, there’s the 30d (261bhp 3.0-litre straight-six diesel engine), M40d (a 321bhp version of the same engine) and the really rapid M40i (355bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine).
Essentially, you will find there are four different trim levels, starting with SE. It comes with LED headlights, 18in alloy wheels, leather seats (the front ones are heated), dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and an electric tailgate. Higher-tier xLine has larger 19in wheels and sports seats, while M Sport gets more aggressive exterior styling and firmer suspension. The two most powerful engine options appear on only the M-badged M40i and M40d, which both have bigger brakes and 20in alloy wheels.
Once you’ve got behind the wheel of the X3, you’ll soon realise that this is one of the best large SUVs to drive. It splits the difference between long-distance comfort and driving pleasure really well, thanks in no small part to a relatively playful chassis with a rear-biased four-wheel drive system and impressively low wind and road noise levels. The only slight criticism is that the steering doesn’t have the consistent weighting of some of its rivals. However, few get close to the X3 for ride comfort, particularly on models equipped with adaptive suspension.