BMW X3 2018 first drive: It’s certainly not beautiful, but it grows on you – Telegraph.co.uk

Overdrive it though, and after an adroit turn-in the tyres squirm and it has a top-heavy yaw, which feels horrible. This is the handling writing cheques the high-riding, heavyweight nature of an SUV can’t honour. If you are looking for fine handling and fast distribution of lots of stuff, BMW produces a more than adequate 5-series Touring estate.

The X3 rides nicely over broken surfaces, even the M40i on its  20-inch tyres (the most popular M Sport trim level comes with 19-inch wheels and tyres which will be even better). Body roll is well controlled and the brakes are powerful, although the pedal could do with a tiny bit more progression.

However, it’s not particularly loveable and it’s certainly not beautiful, but it grows on you. You’d never be too far behind quicker rivals such as Alfa’s Stelvio or Porsche’s Macan, but you’d be more comfortable – and that feeling of high quality production and fine engineering is, I have to say, slightly addictive.

THE FACTS

BMW X3 30d

TESTED 2,993cc, six-cylinder turbodiesel, eight-speed automatic gearbox, four-wheel drive

PRICE/ON SALE range £37,980 to £50,530 (as tested £44,380)/November

POWER/TORQUE 261bhp @ 4,000rpm /457lb ft @ 2,000rpm

TOP SPEED 149mph

ACCELERATION 0-62mph in 5.8sec

FUEL ECONOMY 49.6mpg/42.8mpg (EU Combined/Urban), on test 39mpg

CO2 EMISSIONS 149/km

VED £200 first year, £450 for next four years, then £140

VERDICT Nothing exactly new, more a raised game from this premium family SUV. High-tech suspension rides well and provides good handling, although there is rather a lot of car to throw around. Accommodating and comfortable cabin, with excellent rear space and a decent-sized boot. Quite likeable, though a little dull and not a great-looking car.

TELEGRAPH RATING Four stars out of five

THE RIVALS

Volvo XC60, from £32,935

You need to spend £34,465 to get a 4×4 version of this lovely SUV, with the heavy but lovely five-cylinder 2.4 diesel. Looks great, rides beautifully and the interior is a delight. Soft-road rather than off-road, but then that’s what all these cars are about.  

Audi Q5, from £38,035

Renewed for this year, the Q5 is keen competition for BMW – it actually outsold the X3 for several years. It builds on the old strengths with great diesel engines and surprisingly adept handling, but the steering remains horrible and it’s a bit dull.

Range Rover Velar, from £44,830

Land Rover’s Discovery and Discovery Sport might also be competition here, but the Velar has moved the design game on inside and out. It’s expensive, the smallest diesel is a bit noisy and the body control is fidgety, but it looks fantastic.

Mercedes-Benz GLC, from £36,380

Looks great and the cabin is modern, well appointed, comfortable and attractive. It drives reasonably well, too, but on certain suspension options the ride and  the steering feel odd. As ever, watch the options list, although air suspension might be worth the extra.

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