BMW’s all-new X3 Compact SUV is one of the best luxury compact SUVs available thanks to a new third generation redesign. For 2018, the major change being the introduction of a new cabin and updated chassis with extensive use of aluminum. Looks wise, the same purposeful look and stance remains with a few body panel changes and LED lighting. The cabin is where there are major changes. There is a new dash layout with a new gesture-controlled interface for BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. There are also updated safety, technology and convenience features. Base model X3’s arrive as the xDrive 30i with a 2.0-litre turbo four engine with 248 horsepower, while the extra performance M40i model offers a 3.0-litre V6 producing 355 hp. All engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and BMWs famed xDrive All Wheel Drive system. The BMW X3 arrives very well equipped, although must-have options and all the other fancy packages come at a price. Available options offer Convenience Packages, Driving Assistance Package, and a host of technology and electronic safety aids.
I have to say BMW have done sterling work with the new interior. Visibility is great for drivers and there is a warmer, less austere and more comfortable looking cabin. There is a richer, luxurious feel to the design and materials. Being a BMW, the materials are of the highest quality with premium leather, fabric and plastics. BMW has also upped the technology and conveniences features; the BMW iDrive infotainment system and its 10.2-inch touch screen, are more intuitive to use and very well designed. There is also an excellent head-up display for the driver. Overall, there is plenty of room in the BMW X3 in all directions. The well-appointed rear cabin seat two large adults comfortable, though three can fit in a squeeze. The well-finished cargo area can also be expanded thanks to folding second-row seats.
On the road, the new X3 impresses with a hushed cabin and muted engine noise. Power delivery is silky smooth and turbo lag is almost undetectable from the turbo four cylinder. The power comes on strong and smooth with a linear torque curve. The eight speed transmission is also well matched to the engine, providing enough passing and pulling power on the upshifts. The X3 also handles delightfully with a firm direct feel, so beloved by performance drivers. Not much to complain about – the X3 is the perfect compact luxury SUV bar none. Highly recommended.
2018 BMW X3 xDrive Priced from $48,000 (30i)) – $61,500 (M40i)