From £31,945
Roomier, classier and more refined than old car, yet it also uses less fuel and rides better
1 June 2010

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

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Straight Six Man 7 June 2010

Re: BMW X3

nicksheele wrote:

To try to get some perspective in this discussion of the merits or otherwise of the about-to-be-launched X3 one just needs to look back at Autocar's own reports on the original X5, by way of a comparator.

The new X3 is almost the same size(4.65m long), give or take a half-inch, as the first generation X5(E53). Looking back at this: http://www.autocar.co.uk/CarReviews/FirstDrives/BMW-X5-4.4i-Sport-Auto/206480/ one can see how far BMW's offering has come in little over five years.

For the same performance as the X5 V8 4.4 the new X3 will cost around £10k less, around £37k for a X3 xDrive 35i compared to £47k for the E53 V8. Same amount of metal and performance for £10k less, in just five years, plus around one-third better fuel economy. Now that's surely unequivocally good and quite, quite rare in these days of spiralling new car prices, especially as BMW is having now to contend with a vehicle made in America, where the dollar has increased so much against the euro and pound.

Meanwhile, the X1 is pretty much as big as the outgoing X3. What they need to do is rebadge the seven-seat X5 as the X7, the X3 as the X5, the X1 as the X3, and introduce a smaller jacked-up hatchback as the X1. Either that or scrap the whole bloody lot. I think I prefer the latter idea.

nicksheele 7 June 2010

Re: BMW X3

To try to get some perspective in this discussion of the merits or otherwise of the about-to-be-launched X3 one just needs to look back at Autocar's own reports on the original X5, by way of a comparator.

The new X3 is almost the same size(4.65m long), give or take a half-inch, as the first generation X5(E53). Looking back at this: http://www.autocar.co.uk/CarReviews/FirstDrives/BMW-X5-4.4i-Sport-Auto/206480/ one can see how far BMW's offering has come in little over five years.

For the same performance as the X5 V8 4.4 the new X3 will cost around £10k less, around £37k for a X3 xDrive 35i compared to £47k for the E53 V8. Same amount of metal and performance for £10k less, in just five years, plus around one-third better fuel economy. Now that's surely unequivocally good and quite, quite rare in these days of spiralling new car prices, especially as BMW is having now to contend with a vehicle made in America, where the dollar has increased so much against the euro and pound.

Straight Six Man 7 June 2010

Re: BMW X3

Chas Hallett. wrote:
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

Let's have a look at the BMW range, then.

The 1-series (2004–present). It's RWD and prettier than any other C-sector hatchback. End of.

The E9x 3-series (2005–present). Only the current C-class (2007-present) comes close. Prior to that, the C-class was a fuddy-duddy no-hoper. Also, the current Lexus IS (2005–present) is nowhere near as fun or as good-looking as its predecessor, let alone a 3-series. The B7-generation Audi A4 was nowhere near close. Incidentally, isn't it funny, that, although the original A4 was launched a couple of years earlier than the E46, there have been only two new 3-series' since then, but there have been FOUR generations of A4?

The E60 5-series (2003-2010). When it was first launched, its competitors were the W211 E-class (2002–2009), driven exclusively by middle-aged men in grey suits and minicab drivers, the C6-generation Audi A6, and the Jaguar S-type. Oh look, Inspector Morse has arrived! Would you like some tea, Inspector? Of course, there was a new Lexus GS in 2005, replacing the 1997-vintage model, but it's so deathly dull that no-one has bought one. I joke not, I've never seen one.

The E63/E64 6-series is a difficult one to place, since none of BMW's traditional rivals (Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar) make anything quite like it. I suppose it's vaguely comparable to the Jag XK and the Merc SL... but, I must confess, I don't really like it that much.

The E65 7-series (2002-2008): its rivals at launch were the W220-generation S-class (2000-2006) - hello, Granddad! - the Jaguar X308 and the current Audi A8 (launched at much the same time). The Audi was the only car comparable. The other two were dinosaurs by comparison. Admittedly, the new aluminium XJ (the X350) came along a year or so later, and there was a new S-class in 2006, by which time the E65 was looking rather passé...

The X3 is also rather difficult to place - at launch in 2004, there was only one other car like it, the original Land Rover Freelander, which, while better off-road, was way off the pace in all other respects. OK, so, since then, we've had a new Freelander (2006), the Volvo XC60, the Audi Q5, and the Mercedes GLK (again, never seen one), but the X3 really created that whole niche.

The X5 (in both its iterations) is also a much better car than any comparable Merc M-class, and much better-looking than an Audi Q7 or VW Toerag or Porsche Cayenne. It's not really comparable even to the RR Sport, let alone a proper Rangey, because they're very different animals.

The X1 looks like being the best in its class, too - roomier than a VW Tiguan or a Nissan QashQow, and otherwise pretty much without rivals.

Also, the new 5-series (the F10) looks like being better than all its rivals - the Merc E-class' fit and finish is still far too cheap-looking, the Audi A6 doesn't ride as well, the Lexus GS hasn't sold at all in this country, and the Jaguar XF is overweight and prone to electrical trouble. Joe Lucas, the Prince of Darkness, is seemingly alive and well...

The F01 7-series was, at launch, seemingly well ahead of the competition - Audi's A8 was starting to look tired, Granddad's XJ's sales had fallen off a cliff, and the S-class is looking tired already - the Porker Panamera and the characterful but flawed Maser Quattroporte don't really compete with it, anyway. Mind you, there's a new A4 A8 out, and the new XJ seems like a good 'un (though beware the Prince of Darkness, considering the XF's track record)...

As for the M-models, the M3 is a far better drive than an Audi RS4/5 or a C63 AMG, and, as a track tool, an M5 will destroy its competition. Let's just not talk about the Z-cars, which have always seemed somehow incomplete... the handling on the Z3 and Z8, the ride on the first-gen Z4, the handling on the new Z4...

Still, no BMWs since the E39 and E46 convincingly ahead of their rivals? REALLY?

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