Ju­nior burgher

The X3 fol­lowed a larger sib­ling, adding badge cred to safety and lux­ury op­tions

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Review - GRAHAM SMITH graham.smith@cars­guide.com.au

ONCE the X5, BMW’s SUV break­through model, had blazed a trail across our 4WD land­scape it was to be ex­pected the com­pany would fol­low up with a com­pact ver­sion. That was the X3 and it ar­rived in 2004. The X3 slot­ted in be­low the X5, much as the 3-Se­ries fit­ted into the pas­sen­ger lineup un­der the 5-Se­ries.

A scaled-down ver­sion of the X5, it cost far less. It had the BMW­fam­ily re­sem­blance but the tough, chunky look that made the X5 at­trac­tive was lost. Buy­ers could choose be­tween two V6 petrol en­gines and a turbo diesel. The base petrol en­gine was a 2.5-litre, pro­duc­ing 141kW and 245Nm, and the 3.0-litre’s out­puts were 170kW and 300Nm. The diesel op­tion, a 3.0-litre turbo six, put out 160kW and 480Nm. There was a six-speed man­ual gear­box only on the 2.5-litre model; all oth­ers had auto with the op­tion of man­ual shift­ing.

The full-time four-wheel drive usedBMW’s xDrive sys­tem to main­tain grip in slip­pery go­ing. The sus­pen­sion was in­de­pen­dent all-round, the brakes were discs with ABS, there were al­loy wheels but the spare was only a space-saver.

In­side the X3 had all you could de­sire with the list of stan­dard fea­tures in­clud­ing au­to­matic air­con­di­tion­ing, cruise, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing, leather trim, multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel, power mir­rors and win­dows and CD sound sys­tem.


The jury is out onBMW dura­bil­ity. The build qual­ity is high but his­tory sug­gests that cars with the blue-and-white spin­ner badge can be­come ex­pen­sive as the kays climb.

If you choose to get into one it’s best to do it when the kilo­me­tres are low and get out again be­fore the bills start to roll in.

Look for an in­de­pen­dent spe­cial­ist to have the ser­vic­ing done, as deal­ers tend to be very ex­pen­sive. Same goes for parts. Ser­vic­ing is crit­i­cal so make sure any prospec­tive pur­chase has had the re­quired main­te­nance.


With a com­pre­hen­sive ar­ray of ac­tive and pas­sive safety fea­tures, the X3 was given four stars out of a pos­si­ble five by ANCAP. Ac­tive fea­tures in­clude ABS, trac­tion con­trol, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol and hill de­scent con­trol, while pas­sive safety is well cov­ered by front, head and side airbags.


The 2.5-litre petrol av­er­aged in the mid-to high-11s. The turbo diesel claimed an 8.6L/100km av­er­age. BMWrec­om­mended pre­mium un­leaded for the petrol mod­els, later ap­prov­ing E10 ethanol blend for the X3.

Grip­ping yarn: The X3 uses

BMW’s xDrive sys­tem to han­dle slip­pery con­di­tions

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