BMW X3 30D M Sport - Wheels, Etc

A bulky-looking SUV that drives like a sports car

In the predictable area of north London in which this writer resides, 4x4s are a common sight. A quick count yesterday morning put them at about one in five of the cars on my street. Which, as critics of Chelsea Tractors have noted ad nauseum, ad infinitum, is ridiculous for a city drive. But the new X3 makes it seems almost sensible.

Weirdly, my unscientific survey of Crouch End’s cars suggested that the larger BMW SUV, the X5, is vastly more popular on my local crammed, double-parked streets. This may explain why the 2011 X3, first released earlier this year, is now almost the same size as the earlier models of the X5 (so, of course, the new X5 is about 20cm longer and 10cm wider than the new X3). And on initial impressions it looks huge.

The size is handy for families, though. As the parent of a single cat, I thought I ought to test the comfort of a long drive by inviting some football-fan friends on a road-trip up to Manchester.

A huge pile-up on the M1 certainly gave us chance to test the comfort and size of the cabin. There’s ample stretching room and the Nevada leather trim makes the driver unworried about the slobs eating Maryland cookies in the back seat. There were four of us, but you could easily fit five adults in there. There’s a 550-litre boot, too. Which – given the high performance of this particular model – makes you wonder what’s the point in splashing out another £10,000 on the more expensive X5? Unless your ego is so tender as to not want to drive a “mid-range” Beamer.

The early 2011 X3s were generally seen as a best-in-class move forward and the 30D M Sport re-up delivers an almighty zip and the kind of tight drive that you’d expect from a smaller car. It also does with better emissions and fuel economy than rivals with similar spec, such as the Freelander 2 SD4 and the Audi Q5 S 3.0. A hearty well done.

The other big journey I take is a mad early-morning weekend rush to the Midlands, which certainly tests the car’s unerringly fast acceleration. Yet even this dash doesn’t drain the petrol tank too badly. Indeed, fuel preservation is aided by the German giant’s new Efficient Dynamics systems (though, if you’re buying an SUV for the city, this may not influence your thinking too much). The most notable of these is the increasingly common auto stop-start function – which cuts out the engine while idling at lights or in traffic.

The engine emits a beautiful hum upon starting (though road noise is well controlled) and flipping the damper control to Sport to stiffen up the suspension makes country A-road driving nearly sports-car dreamy.

All the 30Ds come loaded with mod cons, as you’d expect, including BMW’s parking cameras, featuring rear and top-down live views of the car. They combined with normal beeping parking sensors, which make it so easy to park that’s it’s less like maneuvering a bulky SUV and more like a quite dull game of early Grand Theft Auto. It’ll certainly help you if you’re buying it to live on those double-parked city streets.

The M Sport is simply a great car. Whether it’s worth going up in spec from the regular X3 2-litre (from £31,440) to the 40-grand 30D M Sport depends on your finances. But it’s still decent value even at this big price.


Price: £39,975

Engine capacity: 3.0

Top speed (mph): 130 0-62 (seconds): 6.2

Fuel economy (mpg): 47.1mpg

C02 emissions (g/km): 159g/k

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

    £23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

    Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

    £14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

    Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower