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BMW X3 3.0d M Sport Auto
Sector: SUV Price: £40,275 Fuel: 47.1mpg CO2: 159g/km
I get the feeling the BMW X3 is currently like one of those faded film stars slinking along the red carpet unnoticed, while a new twinkly eyed beau stands beaming in front of the flashbulbs.
Because the X3 has some of the toughest competition in the automotive world, in the shape of the much-garlanded Range Rover Evoque.
I can entirely see why somebody might choose the striking Rangie, but if it was me, I’d take the X3 every time. Here’s why.
With the 258bhp 3.0d engine, the X3 is by far the more refined, more enjoyable drive. In fact, for such a big car (the ”new” X3 being considerably bigger than the much-lamented old one) it handles with amazing deft and plenty of pace too.
That engine really is a work of art, as most BMW engines are, and makes this feel more like a higher 5 Series than a four-wheel drive SUV, while the eight-speed auto is on a different level to the rather lumpy changer in the Evoque.
Even with all of these abilities and performance, it still only has CO2 emissions of only 159g/km, 15 less than a much less powerful Evoque.
The cabin might look a little more utilitarian than the Range Rover, but the quality of the X3’s materials are higher, and there’s much, much more space too in front, back and boot. In fact, compared to the vast X5, it feels a lot less unwieldy and, in turn, more handy in car parks and more useable everyday.
The model we had was in M Sport spec, which adds considerably to the price (more than two grand over the SE), but with its deeper front air intakes and larger wheels it makes what can be a rather anonymous car look considerably more stylish.
At 40 grand, the X3 comes with pretty much everything you would need, but amazingly does not have sat nav as standard, which really ought to be a given at this price point in this type of car. Small criticisms aside, though, the X3 remains the understated best in class, and one not to overlook.
Practical, great to drive and light in its thirst for fuel, the X3 3.0d does everything you could want of a mid size SUV amazingly well. It might not be the current hot property, but overall, it is the best car in the sector.