The BMW X3 is the 2019 Auto Express Premium Mid-size SUV of the Year, with the Porsche Macan and Volvo XC60 commended
Like so many of our award winners, the BMW X3 is a consummate all-rounder, which is why it’s taken the mid-size premium SUV crown for the second year in a row.
This third-generation X3 is based on BMW’s latest CLAR platform, which it shares with the excellent 5 Series saloon. That car offers superb comfort, handling, practicality and efficiency, and BMW has distilled these talents into its upmarket family 4×4.
Refinement in the X3 is superb, because its engines are hushed, while wind and road noise are minimal. Plus the ride is controlled and comfortable – the suspension copes well with potholes and bumps, yet body roll is also kept to a minimum.
The X3 handles as you would expect any BMW to, because it combines positivity with its response to your inputs and performance. It hides its size and weight very well, with accurate steering and plenty of grip available, and rarely feels out of its depth on British roads.
BMW’s xDrive four-wheel-drive system is standard, which will be great in an inclement British winter, while the eight-speed auto is well matched to the range of petrol and diesel engines. The latter are good choices, and the X3’s refined nature only starts to crack under hard acceleration, since most of the time you can barely hear the motor.
In addition, the extra mid-range punch means that the diesels are just that little bit more relaxed to drive than the petrols, which need more revving – unless it’s the rapid M40i model, or the X3 M Competition that BMW has just added for high-performance fans.
Inside, there’s the latest version of BMW’s Professional Multimedia system, with a slick 10.25-inch widescreen display. It’s among the best infotainment systems in any car today, with snappy menus and an intuitive interface. The sat-nav is easy to use, while live traffic info is very useful for avoiding jams. All of this tech, including an even greater amount of driver assistance, is packaged in an interior that blends quality with usability and space. It’s this that keeps the X3 at the top of its class.
Our choice BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport (£44,015)
M Sport trim features leather upholstery, three-zone climate control and a sportier cabin feel with bespoke steering wheel, seats and darker headlining. We’d also go for the entry-level diesel engine, because it provides plenty of performance and decent economy. Take advantage of BMW’s PCP finance deals to make this an even more affordable proposition.
The latest Macan no longer offers a diesel option, but the four-cylinder petrol remains a great pick if you’re after performance and economy. The Porsche is still the best car in its class to drive, so enthusiasts after an engaging SUV will love it. But while its agile chassis is a highlight, the car is practical and premium, too.
The XC60 scores well for its infotainment system and safety kit, but it’s also a great choice if you’re looking for something that’s a break from the German norm. The interior has a high-quality, individual feel and the nine-inch touchscreen display is packed with features.
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