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Dublin: 9°C Wednesday 19 January 2022
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Review: BMW's new X3 is a family SUV that's stylish inside and out

Oh, and it has one of the best infotainment systems I’ve ever used.

MEET THE BRAND new third-gen BMW X3, a family-friendly, sensible SUV with a premium look and feel.

On first look inside, there’s lots to please a family buyer. The cabin’s interior is covered in soft-touch materials, with scratchy hard plastics few and far between. It is also very well screwed together, meaning everything feels sturdy and kid proof.

The leather seats are big and comfortable – like supportive armchairs – and they have plenty of adjustment to ensure a perfect seat position for each driver.

Being a family motor, the BMW X3 is practical in terms of storage spaces and cubby holes with big door bins, centre console storage and back of the seat storage nets. The large boot that can hold 550 litres with the rear seats up and 1,600 litres with the rear seats tumbled.

Head and leg room is excellent all around and you’ll fit three adults (or teens) easily across the back seat.

Source: Shane O'Donoghue

In terms of technology, BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is one of the best I have ever used. It is slick-looking with high res graphics and it is very responsive and intuitive to use.

My test car had the optional Technology Package which added the very handy gesture control and wireless charging. I do enjoy using the BMW gesture control setup as I find I look less at the screen and more on the road.

Source: Shane O'Donoghue

I was testing the M Sport version of the X3 so the styling has a bit more of a sporty feel compared to the SE and xLine trims.

The exterior features LED front fog lights, 19-inch double spoke alloys, a high-gloss Shadowline trim and aerodynamic body styling, plus sports seats in the front.

Source: Shane O'Donoghue

Mechanically, M Sport models get a sportier suspension set-up. Passive, non-adjustable steel springs are standard but are stiffer on M Sport cars.

As standard, all versions of the BMW X3 come with all-wheel drive, an eight-speed automatic transmission and paddle shifters too.

Source: Shane O'Donoghue

I was testing the xDrive30d M Sport powered by a 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine. Refined, quiet, smooth and with plenty of brawn and a prompt power delivery, it’ll get you from 0-100km/h in just 5.8 seconds.

The huge amount of low down torque makes for swift overtaking manoeuvres and fast getaways. As for the eight-speed automatic transmission, it shifts like butter.

Source: Shane O'Donoghue

The ride is excellent too, with plenty of grip too thanks to BMW’s clever four-wheel drive system. Put it this way, the car feels extremely surefooted even on narrow gravel mountain roads.

Some drivers might find the steering on the heavy side, but I like that – it’s sharp and accurate although there isn’t a huge amount of feedback. The BMW X3 certainly feels agile for such a big, tall vehicle.

Source: Shane O'Donoghue

Overall, the X3 is a really capable car that is comfortable to drive, quiet, refined and smooth. It is roomy enough for a growing family and it feels as at home on the motorway as it does on suburban streets. It is also perfect for weekend warriors who’ll be filling up that large boot with sports kits and outdoor equipment.

It is one of the best mid-size SUVs that I have tested, thanks in no small part to that fact that it’s simply a more engaging and interesting drive than many of its rivals.

The BMW X3 range starts at €58,847. The xDrive30d M Sport model is priced from €74,457.

More: How to find the correct driving position to make driving safer >

More: Review: The new Ford Mustang is a helluva lot of all-American fun >

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About the author:

Melanie May  / https://www.melaniemay.com

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