Luxury Compact SUV with Remarkable Features
Price From $43,995 – To $57,595
by SUViews Editor | Nov 18, 2021
One of the reasons why consumers resisted the rise of SUVs some years ago was the fact that their larger dimensions and higher weight would negatively affect their dynamic refinement. That issue was particularly concerning for German automakers, which have always been a reference at that.
Nowadays, this body style has dominated the market because of several qualities, but that one is still its Achilles heel mostly because it is difficult to fight physics. As a result, the few models which manage to stand out in such a large crowd are those which, precisely, perform better at that fight.
You are about to see that the BMW X3 is one of those proud exceptions. By offering rear-wheel drive as standard, pairing it to two fuel-efficient engines, and sweetening the deal with impressive M sporty versions, it has done a great job in translating the maker’s dynamics to the SUV reality.
Performance, Engine, and Comfort
The 3 Series has always been a hallmark of BMW performance: it brings the best combination of the qualities of a family sedan and a performance car in one car. Because of that, expectations were surely going to be high from any model which intended to use the 3 number, even an SUV.
Fortunately, the X3 has handled this mission very well. Dynamic behavior is agile and engaging without taking a toll on fuel consumption, the cabin is roomy and comfortable while preserving the BMW identity, and the equipment list is satisfactory while leaving any excesses to the larger SUVs.
Engine & Performance
Rather than an “SUV made by BMW”, the X3 is a “BMW in an SUV shape” – and that means a lot. It means that BMW’s excellence at dynamic behavior has been successfully reinterpreted to suit such a larger and heavier model. The base powertrain brings a well-rounded ride while the M40i’s take it to a whole new level.
Engine and gear
The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder which makes 248 hp. While it does not bring any intense emotions when driving, it is capable enough for this type of SUV in almost all typical situations. It comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
People looking for performance-car power may opt for the M40i version, whose turbocharged, 3.0-liter six-cylinder is good for 382 hp and accelerates well enough to match the likes of Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 and Porsche Macan.
Adaptive suspension is an interesting item available in the X3’s options list. The equipment offered for the entry-level 30i versions is named Dynamic Damper Control and brings the Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro driving modes.
The M40i version has an adaptive suspension of its own, which not only brings driving modes as well but also lowers the chassis by 0.4 inches.
The X3 is widely praised for its driving dynamics; in fact, it has been deemed better than some of BMW’s current sedans despite being an SUV. Whether when cornering or when going on stretches at high speeds, it offers a refined and controlled behavior that makes it actually fun to drive.
Ride & Vibration
All those years of experience with SUVs have made BMW reach a well-balanced behavior on the X3. It offers enough firmness to inspire confidence in the driver without reaching the point of affecting ride comfort. Once again, this model is refined as several of the company’s traditional sedans.
Safety & Reliability
While the X3 shines at the previous topic, it only meets expectations here. However, that is far from a bad thing: even the entry-level sDrive30i brings a long list of standard items and offers many others as options. The M40i is better equipped, of course, but its differences mostly aim at adapting the car to its exclusive performance-oriented behavior.
From the base version, the model offers disc brakes on all wheels along with a series of electronic systems to aid their operation. There are ABS, brake-pad wear indicator, Cornering Control, Dynamic Brake Control, and even Brake Fade compensation. The parking brake is electromechanical.
The X3’s standard package includes front and side-protection airbags for the front-row seats. The airbags of the first type come with dual-threshold and dual-stage deployment along with a presence sensor for the front passenger seat to prevent unnecessary deployment.
The typical suite of safety electronic aids expected from this type of car comes as standard here, with some items left as optional. Automated emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and lane-departure warning are standard while active cruise control is optional.
The 2021 BMW X3 brings full LED headlights even at the base trim level along with adaptive brake lights. The M40i version upgrades the headlights with the automatic high-beam function.
This model brings a series of electronic systems focused on improving its driving dynamics. The Dynamic Traction Control comes as standard from the base trim level and is part of the Dynamic Stability Control system. The M40i goes further and adds a Performance Control system.
The EPA ratings give this model an average position when compared to its direct competitors. On the other hand, it brings the great news that the M40i does not consume so much more fuel than the 30i versions: it means that opting for the performance SUV will not bring sports-car mileage.
The sDrive30i and xDrive30i versions share a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 248 hp of power and 258 lb-ft of torque. The M40i uses a turbocharged, 3.0-liter six-cylinder unit which increases those figures to 382 hp and 369 lb-ft, respectively.
Gas per mileage consumption
The most fuel-efficient version of the 2021 BMW X3 is the sDrive30i, which makes 25/29 mpg (city/highway). Opting for the xDrive30i, which adds all-wheel drive, lowers the city mileage by 2 mpg. The M40i, in turn, makes 21/27 mpg.
German engineering at its finest. While the design is not surprising at all, everything is made with high quality and attention to detail. The base X3 may not come with fancy materials, but everything was designed tastefully and features tight and consistent gaps.
Nothing to complain about here. Plenty of space between a nicely-trimmed dashboard and front seats which come with several functions as standard. The driver will enjoy 10-way power settings, which include adjustable side bolsters.
While the overall design is quite conservative and uses imitations of upscale materials, it manages to look and feel great nonetheless. The dashboard features glossy woodgrain trim with nickel-finish metal accents and stitched faux leather which also extends to the door panels.
Passenger seats and extras
While the front passenger boasts the same power adjustments on its seat as the driver, the rear ones will enjoy reclining seats cushioned in a way to be ergonomic even during long trips. Upscale trims may use SensaTec upholstery, which is claimed to be even more comfortable and durable.
Overall height and space
The car’s overall height is 66 inches. It offers a total of 99 ft³ for the passenger area, which makes EPA classify it as a small sport utility vehicle.
The 2021 BMW X3 offers 29 ft³ of cargo volume. When tested by the specialized press, it was able to accommodate seven carry-on suitcases in the trunk, a number that went up to 20 after folding down the second row of seats.
Price and Extras
Nothing impressive here. Base trims come at average prices while the sporty one charges a hefty extra for its more vigorous performance. The lineup will have more options soon, as mentioned below, but both are expected to be on the expensive side of the spectrum.
This lineup is expected to expand soon with two versions: the even sportier X3 M and the plug-in hybrid variation named xDrive30e.
Only the base version sDrive30i comes with rear-wheel drive. All the others use all-wheel drive (as indicated by the letter “x” at the beginning of their names).
This model offers limited warranty coverage of four years or 50,000 miles, whichever expires first. Besides, BMW offers complimentary scheduled maintenance during the first three years or 36,000 miles. Both services place the X3 at an average position in its category.
The best of both worlds. The 2021 BMW X3 offers plenty of comforts, safety, and fuel efficiency to suit a small family, but does not forget its performance-oriented origins. This is not a minivan nor a coupé, but definitely one of the best combinations one could ever obtain from such different styles.