I enlisted the help of a friend, David, to pass on some thoughts about the X3 as we hung out over the course of a weekend.
D: I got the car just before the wife and kids returned from a 3 week trip to the UK, so had it all to myself. We initially hit the Golf Club for a cheeky 18 holes, and then caught up with friends over dinner. I also pottered around in the X3 to the shops, on errands, and out to lunch.
D: For me, yes, I got to test out the storage (golf clubs a tad tight for width, which surprised me as they fit into my Volvo XC60 with no problems), and managed lots of driving without the family on board. The X3 is effortless on the freeway and coped well with the variable surface at the gold club carpark.
J: I've not always been a massive fan of the X3, but the LCI facelift and M Sport pack really help. It is certainly better proportioned than the sister X4. In fact, it doesn't look far off the previous generation X5.
D: For me it is definitely hot. Some of the guys at the golf club came and had a look at the car after they heard I had it and several people at the office were quite jealous…
J: It's no secret that I am a fan of BMW interiors and the X3 is no exception. Mind you, the xDrive 28i does come standard with the 8.8-inch professional navigation screen and now looks more like the older X5 (again).
D: I have never been a fan of BMW, but I really liked this car. Everything about it felt very premium and the seats very comfortable. I had heard of the iDrive system but never used it and it was easy to use. I felt disappointed when I went back to the basic system in the Volvo. The heads up display was a talking point with many of my friends, who all wanted to see it. The X3 also felt roomier than my current XC60, even with the sunroof closed, which surprised me.
D: The engine. Put it into sport mode, and it has effortless power. I also liked the panoramic sunroof and the heads-up display, plus the new safety options, such as pedestrian detection were excellent.
J: I agree about the engine. If I was buying one, I'd go for the diesel. But, the 180kW / 350Nm turbo-petrol has plenty of punch and enjoyable performance. Plus, it's fun to drive — and that is important to me.
D: None that I could tell over the weekend.
J: To be honest, now the X3 has a SYNC button on the aircon, there is nothing for me to complain about — I kid, I kid — but for the short time I spent with the car, it didn't put a foot wrong.
D: Yes, we went out when the family got back and the kids loved the sunroof and my wife liked the space. It just feels bigger than the XC60, even though they are similar in size.
J: I like space and the X3 can feel a bit small at times, but with slightly older children (and no need for prams or even car-capsules) it works very well.
J: The petrol engine is thirstier than the diesel and BMW servicing costs can creep up...but investigate the capped-price packages that best suit your requirements to effectively manage the costs. Be warned that the bigger wheels mean more expensive tyres...
D: Not for me. It is around the same price as the XC60 and I now regret not considering it.
J: Same here, there is nothing really off-putting about the X3 and I certainly suggest looking at one if you are after a medium-sized premium SUV.
D: Serious, although, when I replace the XC60 I might look at a BMW 4-Series cabriolet instead — mid-life crisis and all that.
J: Competition comes from the Range Rover Evoque, soon to be released Land Rover Discovery Sport, Audi Q3 and Q5 — and even BMW's own X5 — which can be had in RWD form for about the same price.
The BMW X3 28i M Sport is an excellent premium urban SUV with enough capability to head to the country or snow if you need to — but mainly to provide enjoyable transport without too big a footprint.