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New BMW X3

Road Test

BMW X3 driven

Driven November 2010

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Not that you should always believe everything you read, but you'll struggle to find any journalist who liked the last X3. Like the current X1, it really was a blooper from BMW. This new X3 needs to be a lot better.

Fortunately, it mostly is. This all-new permanent four-wheel-drive SUV is far more sorted now - two of the biggest criticisms of the last car were the interior quality and the ride. Now, the interior doesn't feel like it was made out of recycled crisp packets and the suspension actually absorbs bumps, rather than transmitting them directly to your spine.

For the time being, only the 2.0-litre diesel will be available in the UK - an X3 30d and X3 35d will arrive next year - and with 181bhp and 280lb ft, it's got just about enough power for most situations.

Overtaking can be tricky though - the X3 runs out of puff above 75mph, so make sure those gaps are big enough. Equally, it's still no Land Rover Freelander on the rough stuff. It'll cope with the pavement outside the school, and comes with Hill Descent Control as standard, but Jeremy would probably get equally as stuck in this one as he did in the last.

Prices start from £39,040, which is bang on rivals like the Audi Q5. When the last X3 appeared, this sector was pretty new and rivals were rare. Now, every manufacturer has an offering. The last-gen car would never have stood up to any sort of comparison. It really was that bad. Fortunately, this one does. It's not a great BMW, because it drives too much like every other soft-roader, but it's good enough.

Piers Ward

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