BMW X3 F25 (2011-on): review, problems and specs

Despite its offer at the debut of the first generation, BMW continued with the reiteration of the model, this time doing right all wrongs with its predecessor.

The mid-cycle facelift stepped the X3 up a little more in clients’ preferences — it looks fresh and it received some equipment as standard.


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • Strong resale value
  • Spacious cabin
  • Comfy yet fun ride

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • More expensive than most rivals
  • The dash might seem a bit outdated

Stay Away From
  • sDrive18d
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • MY2013-2014 X3 xDrive28i recalled in the US because of a potentially failure of brake assist
Car Details
Powertrain

In the US, naturally, the emphasis is on petrol engines, with only one diesel version available: the xDrive28d, making use of a 2.0-liter four-pot 180 hp unit. The list is completed with a 240 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four (28i) and a 300 hp TwinPower Turbo inline six. The xDrive28i is available in the sDrive (rear-wheel drive) form also.
UK market is marked by diesels only, based on 2.0 and 3.0-liter units. The lineup starter is the sDrive18d, followed by xDrive20d, with 188 hp, followed by the inline six xDrive30d (255 hp) and the range-topping xDrive35d, with no less than 308 hp.
Other engines available in other markets are the frugal diesel sDrive18d (147 hp) and the refined xDrive/sDrive20i. Besides the sDrive18d and the xDrive20d, every other engine comes coupled with the wonderful 8-speed Steptronic transmission.
The X3 has a pretty wide range of engine solutions, from the budget-driven to the well-powered 35d and 35i.


Handling

After a not-so-brilliant first generation, the new X3 trues up with the Bavarian spirit: short said, it is the most fun car to drive in the segment.
That means its steering is well-weighted, its body roll is reduced to minimal, and its level of comfort when cruising is far more than decent.
Still, you mustn’t forget the X3 is a 4,822 lbs compact SUV, so although it is as relaxing and entertaining as a saloon, it’s not what you’d describe as an ultimate driving machine.


Safety

The BMW X3’s safety package is as extensive as any Bavarian model. It comes with front, side and curtain airbags for the driver and his right passenger, and head airbags for the second row occupants.
The safety list is completed with active safety features such as Dynamic Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control, hill start assistant or hill descent control.
As a result, it received a 5-star rating in EuroNCAP crash tests.

Comfort

The X3 expanded its length, width and height over the previous generation, which means the cabin space increased also. It can accommodate up to five passengers — but if you want absolute comfort over hundreds of kilometers, you’d better stick with the four format, the middle back seat is not a comfortable place to spend such long time in.
The interior space is well soundproofed, so the ride is satisfactorily smooth — although the road noise kind of builds up along with speed.
Still, regardless the setup/package you choose, or the size of your rims, the X3 will deliver comfort as in its natural state.


Quality

Well, you’re in a BMW, so expect a feeling of durable-and-neat feeling when it comes to materials and finishes. Depending on the selected Line, you get — as standard — Sensatec synthetic leather or even Nevada authentic leather, along with aluminum or wood dash ornaments. As long as you have the money, BMW has the solutions.
If you need more posh in your car, Audi’s Q5, one of the segment’s rivals, can get you higher in the haptic universe.


Practicality

The second-generation BMW X3 is longer, wider and taller, and that is visibly reflected in the cabin’s space. Its boot grew with over 70 liters, reaching a figure of 550 liters with all the seats up, par with Mercedes-Benz GLC. Fold the back seat and that figure extends to a total of 1,600 liters.
As standard, you get a 40:60 folding rear bench, but there is also a 40:20:40 option if loading space flexibility is what you desire.


Infotainment

The basic infotainment gear is consisting of a very intuitive iDrive with 6.5” display, a 6-speaker 100W stereo, BMW Teleservices and Condition Based Service — although in some markets the USB and Bluetooth connectivity also come as standard, along with DAB Radio and MP3 connection.
Optionally, you can raise that with a lot of useful gadgetry, from the Professional sat-nav to the Head-Up Display and Harman/Kardon surround sound.

Efficiency

If the all-wheel-drive is not the reason you buy a BMW X model, then the entry-level sDrive18d might just be the SUV you’re looking for, with a fuel consumption figure of 47 mpg in combined cycle.
The most sought-after will probably be xDrive20d, whose 2.0-liter inline four manages 45 mpg with 136 g/km CO2.
Even the xDrive35d is decent (considering its displacement), with 46.1 mpg.


Equipment

Even the standard guise offers you all you need to feel decent in X3’s cabin — in the UK, even the base model gets sat-nav, DAB radio, electric tailgate and leather seats (heated, mind you).
In other markets, you’ll have to pay extra cash (or check a package) to have those features installed. The X3 has plenty of poshy and tech features, but it can get as pricey as an X5 if you neglect the power (or price, better said) of the optional equipment.


Acquisition

SUVs and crossovers are the hype now, so there’s little chance to get a discount. But, on the other hand, that is a good chance to sell it with a good price — the depreciation rate is decently low for a premium SUV/crossover.
Just stay away from the most powered versions — go for a 2.0-liter coupled to the 8-speed automatic gearbox and, besides the fact that you won’t be disappointed at all, you’ll also keep your price tag up.

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