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BMW X3 2010 Review

BMW has moved the X3 upmarket, adding more style.

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The middle child of the BMW X range has been given some special treatment. A new X3 has been launched in the US and is on its way to Australia around March next year. It is the second generation of the mid-sized SUV that sits comfortably between the small X1 and the large X5.

BMW has substantially improved the crossover wagon, stretching and widening the body to the extent that it is very nearly as big as the first generation X5. There is new front suspension, fresh steering, more interior space, and an improved all-wheel drive system.


BMW is yet to lock in prices at this stage, but sources suggest that prices, at least on the entry level petrol and diesel models will not increase over the current level. That means you can expect to get the base diesel, the best seller, for about $62,000 and the base petrol for about $69,000. This is a fair amount of cash, but you do get a prestige SUV that is nearly as big as the original X5.


BMW Australia will bring in the 20D model which runs a turbo diesel four-cylinder with 135kW and 380Nm that uses just 5.6 litres per 100km.  It will also have a naturally aspirated petrol six-cylinder and a six-cylinder diesel, but these are yet to be announced.

There is a six-speed manual and a new ZF eight-speed auto available overseas, but Australia will only take the automatic.  Overseas markets also have a 35is turbo petrol six-cylinder that pumps out 225kW and 400Nm, but BMW Australia has decided against importing it.

The engines are available with fuel saving stop-start technology, a heads-up display which projects information on to the screen is new as is electric power steering, optional top view reversing camera and optional adjustable suspension dampers.


The X3 comes with permanent all-wheel drive to help the driver keep out of trouble in the first place. Electronic stability control and a full suite of airbags is standard. A cruise control system that can detect objects in front and brake the car is available as an option.


BMW has moved the X3 upmarket, adding more style. The hard angular lines of the existing car have been smoothed off, while new design lines have been introduced to give the car a sleeker look.

The lengthening and widening of the body helped designers give the car a more muscular look compared to the existing model. The interior has been given a mild upgrade.


We drove a diesel X3 with a manual transmission and a turbo petrol with an automatic.  We won’t get the turbo petrol engine or the manual transmission but we will get the diesel engine with the automatic transmission.

Even though we couldn’t drive that exact car, the drive through the countryside near Atlanta in the US gave us a clear indication that BMW really has lifted its game with the new X3. The existing X3 is not very good.

The first X3 seemed like a model rushed out to capitalize on the success of the X5 that was cheaper than that model but nowhere near as good. It didn’t handle all that well, the interior looked cheap and design was ugly, especially when it first came out.

BMW improved it with facelifts, but it still fell short of expectations. The new car appears to change that.  It looks a whole lot better, especially when you see it in the metal. The handling has been improved substantially, although our cars had the optional adjustable dampers, the steering is sharper and the ride is more comfortable.

The diesel is quite strong and it is not too loud. It isn’t much fun with a manual thanks to the traditional narrow diesel torque band that means you have to change gears almost constantly.  The turbo petrol engine is a ripper and the automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly.


We will have to wait to test the exact model that will come to Australia, but it is clear that the new X3 marks a significant improvement over the existing model. The X3 used to be the poor cousin of the X5, but now it is more like a younger and smaller brother.


Prices: TBA
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 135kW at 4000 revs
Torque: 380Nm at 1750-2750 revs
Transmission: Eight speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 5.6 litres per 100km (claimed)

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Range and Specs

xDrive 20d Lifestyle 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $12,888 – 13,888 2010 BMW X3 2010 xDrive 20d Lifestyle Pricing and Specs
xDrive 25i Lifestyle 2.5L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $16,610 – 21,230 2010 BMW X3 2010 xDrive 25i Lifestyle Pricing and Specs
xDrive 30d Lifestyle 3.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $14,080 – 18,480 2010 BMW X3 2010 xDrive 30d Lifestyle Pricing and Specs
xDrive 30i Lifestyle 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $18,150 – 22,990 2010 BMW X3 2010 xDrive 30i Lifestyle Pricing and Specs

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