More than a third of BMWs sold these days are the X models, and so, in anticipation of shifting a shedload of units, BMW’s at last tried a bit with the X3.
It’s built on BMW’s do-it-all longitudinal components set, the one that started life under the 7-Series. That means it has access to more high-tech options than even the 3/4-Series or X5/ X6, which are the last major models to move onto that platform. It also means the new X3 has subtracted some 55kg, despite being longer overall and in the wheelbase than the original X5.
The new interior, in consequence of all that, is roomy and beautifully turned out. But then it absolutely had to be because it has to go up against the gorgeously wrought GLC and Q5. So it’s another car that makes Jaguar’s interior furniture look of the (F-)Pace.
All the UK range is all-wheel-drive. It starts as expected with a 20d, and a 30d. For the frst time in ages there will be a mainstream petrol engine too, which must say something about the way the world is going. It’s a 20i. Last but absolutely not least is the frst M Performance model.
It won’t sell many, but that’s the one I have a go in frst, because you would too. It’s not some kind of hard-riding track destroyer; in fact, the ride is surprisingly supple. Once you’ve got past the slightly numb steering, you fnd a SUV that’s pretty rewarding to lean on in bends, with progressive reactions and a sense of rear-bias in Sport – a button that tautens the damper programme and changes centre dif emphasis, among other things. The 355bhp petrol six is a bit boomy if you let it labour at low revs, but it puts on a mighty show in the mid-to-upper register.
The 30d (159g/km CO ) still has so much torque it feels as fast most of the time, helped by superb auto shift timing. I also did some mild of-roading in that one. It managed fairly well. There’s not much articulation, but clearance is OK and the traction control capable. It’s supposed to wade to 500mm, but I didn’t try: the track was a dustbowl.
Hordes bought the X3 when it was crap. Ought to do well now it’s good...