22 October, 2015   By: Alex Forrest

It’s no coincidence we’ve decided to look at the BMW X3 immediately after our road test of the Volvo XC60.

Both these models compete for the dollars of punters with similar profiles, although the Volvo is slightly cheaper.

The current BMW X3 received a styling refresh in 2014, and was given a bolder-looking front grille and crisper tail light treatments.

White BMW X3 side profile

The bodywork changes were more a light massage than major surgery, but there have been far more significant changes beneath the epidermis.

Chief among those is the introduction of a new 2.0-litre diesel engine, which produces 140kW and 400Nm.

The all-aluminium, 2.0-litre power plant also delivers fuel consumption figure of 5.2L/100km in the official test, and emissions of 138g/km

These numbers are all slight improvements on this engine’s predecessor, which have been enabled in part thanks to BMW turning up the pressure of the common rail direct fuel injection system.

Now, it injects fuel into the cylinders at more than 29,000psi.

So the 2.0-litre diesel in the X3 now churns out more power and torque while using less fuel and emitting less CO2.

Rear of BMW X3

It’s obvious there has been significant investment in making this a more inviting and comfortable place to be.

The X3 now gets a little more colour thanks to some different wood trim options and chrome highlights, both of which add elements of luxury and help dilute the blackness which can dominate some BMW interiors.

Where the BMW X3 really excels is in the way it drives. With longitudinally mounted engines and a rear-wheel drive-focused platform, this is the benchmark luxury mid-sized SUV driving experience.

Point it into a corner and it simply grips, tucks in and follows the curve with total confidence, no tyre scrubbing and excellent body control.

The xDrive 30d we tested also had no trouble maintaining momentum out of the corner.

The steering is electrically assisted, but it is a rack and pinion set up and crispness is still good given it’s a non-hydraulic system.

Four cylinder variants such as the 20d carry a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

2015 BMW X3 xDrive 30d specifications
Price driveaway (as tested):


Engine: 3.0-litre six cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 190kW @ 4000rpm
Torque: 560Nm @ 1500-3000rpm
Claimed fuel economy: 5.9L/100km
ANCAP Rating: 5 stars
CO2 Emissions: 156g/km