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BMW X3 2.0 XDRIVE20D M SPORT Car Review

2nd November 2020 Print

There are a few things that might surprise you about our choice of vehicle for this review, and a few things that almost certainly won’t. 

Let’s build up a bit of suspense by focusing on the unsurprising aspects first. The BMW X3 remains a go-to nameplate in the compact luxury crossover SUV market – indeed, the original iteration was one of the first models in its class back in 2003. 

But of course, much has changed for the X3 in the almost two decades since. The third-generation X3 broke cover towards the end of 2017, and – in a sure reflection of the ‘bigger is better’ trend that seems to have swept every category of consumer product in recent years – is actually larger than the first-generation variant of its big brother, the X5. 

If you’re comparing like with like – the current X3 with the current X5 – the latter is obviously larger. But the latest X3 still manages to communicate a really striking... bigness, not least on account of its high driving position above the clamshell bonnet. 

That’s not a bad advantage for it to have, in a premium SUV sector now replete with credible alternatives, ranging from the Audi Q5, Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Mercedes GLC to the Porsche Macan, Range Rover Velar and Lexus NX. 

So, what else is surprising about this X3? 

Now that we’ve given you the obligatory refresher on the BMW X3 in general, it’s time to zoom in on the fuel that, as far as ever-increasing numbers of today’s manufacturers are concerned, dare not speak its name: that ‘D’ word. 

Yep, one only needs to glance at the latest motoring headlines to see more and more marques trimming down their range of diesel options, in light of the fuel’s declining popularity and more and more stringent emissions regulations. 

That said, BMW hasn’t shrunk its diesel offerings quite as drastically as some brands have in recent years, which brings us neatly onto the merits of the four-cylinder diesel housed in the xDrive20d. 

The ‘xDrive’ moniker simply refers to the all-wheel-drive system that comes as standard in all current X3s. The ‘20’, meanwhile, highlights the 2.0-litre motor that isn’t the biggest you can get in an X3, but is nonetheless the one pretty much everyone actually buys. 

And there’s no doubt that it’s a formidable one in the BMW X3 xDrive20d, good for 190bhp in grunt, a 132mph top speed, and an eight-second 0-62mph time – not to mention fuel consumption hovering at around 52mpg. 

Start actually driving the thing, and you’ll quickly understand why neither BMW nor its drivers are in too much of a hurry to drop Beemer diesels like this – it’s so smooth and quiet that it might sometimes escape your conscious notice that the engine’s even running. 

Well, you’ll probably be able to make out the whine of the turbo’s turbine, but you could always just play some music over that. 

The BMW X3: still a motoring and technological marvel 

Of course, it’s not just the under-the-bonnet performance that has helped to make the X3 a sustained favourite among small premium SUV purchasers over the years. 

This specific model, for instance, further distinguishes itself with its additional M Sport touches, including the M steering wheel, the M aerodynamic kit, a bit more exterior trim, and leather sports seats. And while we’re on the subject of the interior, it’s as plush as you would expect, with no shortage of gloss piano black and chrome finishing. 

There are also plenty of gizmos that you can enjoy on an either as-standard or optional basis, including keyless go, three-zone climate control, and an automatic emergency braking system that’ll stop the car if the sensors detect tall grass – never mind anything that could actually put a dent in your new Beemer. 

And it would be churlish if we didn’t acknowledge that this BMW does represent a serious investment for even a motorist with slightly deeper pockets, likely to set you back a good £40,000 or so new. That’s all the more reason to seek out the latest used deals. 

Another thing that could bring a BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport within your budgetary reach, is the right car finance arrangement. Car Finance Genie, for instance, is a broker that offers a straightforward and honest service, even for applicants with poor credit. 

Whichever BMW X3 you opt for, though, you can rest assured that this highly refined machine still represents a very complete alternative to the Jaguar F-Paces, Land Rover Discovery Sports, and Volvo XC60s of this world, and might well remain the most desirable of the lot.