BMW's compact X3 first launched in 2003, offering a smaller alternative to buyers considering the X5 or what are now one of a dozen rivals. Now in its third generation, the model actually borrows a great deal of its tech from the 5 Series sedan rather than the 3 Series, giving it some extra options over the sedan sibling. Like nearly all modern BMWs, it also comes with BMW M variants for those wanting ultimate small crossover performance.
The 2021 X3 is largely unchanged as it was introduced just a couple of years back. New this year is an Essential trim level that offers a lower point of entry into the crossover line.
Three powertrains are offered for the X3, unless you step up to the M model, which is found in another guide. Those are the xDrive30e PHEV with 288 hp, the xDrive30i with 248 hp from a 2.0L four and the M40i that offers 382 hp. xDrive30i Essential is the only trim level, as the rest are tied to the engine choice.
Even Essential offers a heated leather sport steering wheel as well as tinted rear glass. Sports seats clad in leatherette upholstery and 19-inch alloys are present, with power-adjustable nearly everything. Automatic climate control, LED headlights, and heated front seats are all included as is satellite radio and Apple CarPlay preparation.
The standard xDrive30i adds a choice of more paint colours (only black and white on Essential), and has not just standard leather, but five different shades of it. It adds part distance warnings, LED fog lights, BMW Driving assistant, HiFi audio, and an anthracite headliner.
Plug-in xDrive30e is equipped like the xDrive30i with the addition of the PHEV driveline.
M40i adds the most powerful engine, with M Sport brakes, adaptive M suspenions, variable sport steering and performance control to elevate the driving experience. It also comes with a leatherette dashboard and larger wheels. The LED headlights are adaptive with auto high-beams, and it has a special M leather steering wheel.
M40i offers four option packages. The first is Advanced Driver Assistance which comes with parking sensors, parking assistant, and adpative cruise control among other driver aids.
Premium Package Essential adds wireless phone charging, comfort access, panoramic roof, and ambient lighting. Premium Package Enhanced adds rear sunshades, rear seat heating, galvanic-look controls, head-up display, a functional storage compartment organiser, and lumbar support. The Ultimate package combines all three previous packages with Harman Kardon audio, gesture infotainment control, Live Cockpit Professional navigation, and ambient air fragrance.
Other models (except Essential) offer thise packages plus an M Sport package that makes dynamic dampers available and comes with black trim, aero add-ons, M Sport brakes, and shadow line trim.
The non-PHEV xDrive30i is estimated to return 10.2 L/100 km city, 8.2 highway, while the M40i is estimated to hit 11.3 and 8.7. The PHEV xDrive30e should offer 29 km of range and then 9.9 L/100 km combined once the battery has run down.