The good news is that this BMW X3 is a far more harmonious piece of design than its gawky-looking predecessor, a car that always appeared to be teetering on top of overly narrow tracks. The new X3 looks lower to the road, although ground clearance is almost identical, and the heavily contoured flanks give it a reasonably muscular stance. From head on, it bears a strong family resemblance to the BMW X5, with a very similar radiator grille and headlamp treatment.
When the X1 was launched, we noted that it was only slightly smaller than the Mk1 X3, so it’s no surprise that the new mid-size model has expanded in turn. It’s 83mm longer and 28mm wider than its predecessor – although the quest for aerodynamic efficiency means that its height has reduced by 13mm – and it sits on a slightly longer wheelbase. In fact, its ‘footprint’ is nearly the same size as the original X5, even though it’s 82mm shorter overall.
The standard wheel size is 17in and there is the option to upgrade to either 18in or arch-filling 19in. Most wheel options include run-flat tyres.
The contour line that rises from the front arch to run down the side of the car gives the doors a slightly concave surface. The X3’s doors don’t extend over the sill in the manner of some SUVs (like Land Rover’s Freelander). So if you’ve got dirty sills after some light off-roading, there’s an increased chance of dirtying your clothes on entry/exit.
BMW’s now traditional styling detail, the Hofmeister kink, is present and correct around the rear window.