After a quick lesson on the newest updates (courtesy of our BMW-obsessed Pricing Manager, Simon ) I was off. If there’s one thing that the BMW’s are synonymous with, it’s a good driving experience. No longer a brand purely pushing out manual gearboxes, the X3’s 8-Speed Steptronic sports transmission is better than ever.
I’m always worried getting into an SUV that it will feel too big on the road, and I’ll struggle navigating it down the winding narrow Devon lanes – something it has to cope well with if it’s going to suit our local customers – but I needn’t have been. The X3 stuck to the road like glue and when I did meet the inevitable car down a single track lane, the long reverse back was handled with ease. I always like to initially use the wing mirrors for guidance rather than relying solely on the reversing camera – and this provided a good mix; large (folding) mirrors and a 360 camera with birds-eye view and obstacle warning made the whole process stress-free.
First off, I really liked the interior; it made the car feel really plush and looked great in contrast to the dark grey metallic paintwork. It also had a really lovely trim that I find a complete tongue twister to say - "Aluminium rhombicle interior trim with pearl chrome trim finisher"... Now you try. That being said, as with any car with light interior I’d be terrified to muck it up (just this morning I spilled and entire flask of coffee on my own car seat) – and feel like I’d be tempting fate, regardless of how much I like the look.
We did the headroom test, and there's masses of it - well, masses for a 5ft 4" human such as myself. You can check out our video review to see the proof.
Room for the front passenger and driver is good too. Although unlike the Mercedes-Benz GLC we drove a few weeks ago, this one didn’t have electronically adjusting seats adjustments. If you want that, you’ll have to add a premium package, which gets you: electronic front seats and driver memory, lumbar support for the driver and front passenger and also a panoramic sun roof. Speaking of the GLC, what they do have in common is exactly the same boot capacity at 550 litres.
This X3 comes with the Comfort package, which gets you your heated steering wheel, rear seat backrest adjustment and extended storage. It’s also got the M Sport Plus package, which upgrades you to the 21inch alloy wheels and Harmon/Kardon Surround Sound. This one will also tow a 2,000kg braked trailer.
There’s a really responsive 10.25 inch touchscreen, and the navigation services are incredibly impressive. Zoom right in on a destination and you get a 3D map of local buildings and landmarks.
One thing still worth pointing out with the BMW's is their lack of compatibility with android phones… this isn't new information for many of you, but something to consider if you’re someone for whom Android Auto is imperative.
This model did come with the head-up display as an option, which allows you see your speed, navigation etc. on the windscreen directly in the vision of the driver. The intent of this is to allow you to keep your eyes on the road and process the information faster. If you’re all about tech, those who go for the M Sport, M40i and M40d models can opt for the Technology package that will add on gesture control, wireless charging and a supped-up sound system.
The list available on the BMW website is frankly a bit overwhelming, but basically what you get on the SE is what you'll get as standard. As you go higher up, you'll get certain features in addition to, or in replacement of what comes as standard.
Here's a brief overview of some of the features you'll get within each model line.
•BMW Live Cockpit Plus
•Connected Package Plus – including Apple CarPlay
•18” Alloy Wheels
•Adaptive LED Headlights
•Heated front seats
•Drive Performance Control (ECO PRO, Sport and Comfort)
•19” Alloy Wheels
•Satin Aluminium Exterior Trim
•Sports Seats (front)
•xLine exterior bodystyling
•Larger fuel tank
M Sport Highlights:
•BMW Live Cockpit Professional – which gets you a 10.25” touchscreen
•M aerodynamic bodystyling
•M Sport Braking System (only on the xDrive 30d) and suspension
•Connected Package Professional
•M Sport multi-function leather steering wheel
•20” Alloy Wheels
•Variable Sports Steering
•Electric Memory Seats
•BMW Icon Adaptive LED Headlights with high-beam assist
If, unlike me, you can keep a mug of coffee in it’s intended vessel, then go for the light interior. It really does make the car look fantastic. I would also go for the optional Comfort Package to get the 21" Alloys with run-flat tyres. The 2.0 Litre engine went as well as I need a nearly 2-tonne SUV to go, as smooth and as quiet as you like - and most importantly, it made me smile. I think if you can get a car to do that, you're most of the way there.
* All vehicle images and car descriptions on this site are for illustration and reference purposes only and are not necessarily an accurate representation of the vehicle on offer.
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