Roomier, classier and more refined than old car, yet it also uses less fuel and rides better

What is it?

Despite the disguise taping, it is clearly larger than the outgoing X3. Early figures indicate that length is up by 83mm, width by 29mm and height by 40mm. The wheelbase has grown by 15mm to 2810mm.

Those aren't huge increases, but they amount to a more spacious and comfortable interior.

Even more noticeable is the lift in interior quality. The materials are of a higher grade than those found in the old X3, giving it a more expensive feel.

The engines are revised four and six-cylinder petrols and diesels - for full details on the car and spec see Click on BMW X3 - first details

BMW intends to sell the new X3 at the same price as the old one in the UK. Nothing official just yet, but that means a base X3 xDrive20d should go for around £30,600.

What's it like?

We spent only an hour with BMW's prototype second-generation X3 ­- not long enough to form proper impressions but enough to reveal that the new SUV is much more rounded than its predecessor.

The 182bhp 2.0-litre diesel in the xDrive20d will be the most popular in the UK, but in the prototype we drove it felt tardy below 2000rpm and required more revs than should be necessary to hit its stride.That's odd, because it now delivers 281lb ft of torque, 22lb ft more than before.

Perhaps it's the longer gearing in six-speed manual guise, fitted as part of the fuel-saving measures that drop consumption by an impressive nine per cent.

New electro-mechanical steering provides a direct feel even without the added precision that BMW says will be brought by an optional M package. As with the old model, firm damping allows it to change direction with surprisingly little roll, and it's impressively agile, given the ride height. It also appears to lack the low-amplitude choppiness that made its predecessor a chore on British roads.

It gets BMW's variable damping control system with three levels of damper stiffness: Normal, Sport and Sport Plus.

It's still quite firm, but the annoying vertical movement, especially at the rear, has been quelled.

Should I buy one?

Although our early conclusions are drawn from a controlled test drive, it is clear the new X3 is an improvement on its predecessor in a number of areas.

We wouldn't rule out it achieving similar levels of success to the outgoing model.

See all the latest BMW X3 reviews, news and video

Join the debate

Add a comment…
kdwilcox 7 June 2010

Re: BMW X3

So Giom 37 Autocar hates anything BMW,fact,how odd,in the road test

for the 1,3,5 and 6 series each got 4 stars out of 5.

Other publications sang the praise of the 530d,Autocar did not,so,

its called not having the same opinion,whats the problem.

The fact is,Giom37,you are such a fan of BMW,when someone does not

share your opinion you do not like it.

Anonymous 7 June 2010

Re: BMW X3

Straight Six Man wrote:
Nevertheless, Chas, you cannot deny that the tatty little rag that was Britain's first motoring magazine is very biased against BMW... I can't remember the last time they gave whole-hearted praise to a BMW.
I can't remember the last time that BMW launched a car that was head and shoulders above the competition in the same way that the E39 5-series and E46 3-series so clearly were

Anonymous 7 June 2010

Re: BMW X3

@nickscheele Sorry to pour water on your grubby little conspiracy theory old boy. But did it occur to you that Greg's Autoweek story was a news story and a static preview of the car, rather than anything containing drive impressions? And when those driving impressions do come - I'm not sure that they will be concentrating on the four-cylinder diesel for Autoweek's US audience.