Review: BMW X3 – Locally built and brimming with quality

BMW responded well to the call to fight and its latest iteration in the form of the revitalised X3, which makes the model one of the best in the business area. Although I feel it wasn’t due for an overhaul, it has recently been honed with a significant revamp that has further boosted its relevance in the competitive fold. Yes, BMW has recently been the talk of the town for its contemporary layout cues as well as oversized kidney grilles; at least the X3 doesn’t fall into the same basket, for now.

Built at the BMW Rosslyn Plant in Pretoria for local and export markets, we spent time flexing the muscles of the oil-burner in the form of the 20d M Sport guise. Looks? it isn’t a complete departure from the outgoing model’s looks, but the refresh has breathed new life into it.

At first glance, redesigned items such as front and rear light clusters, bumpers and enlarged kidney grille are easily observable as they give the X3 a much more pronounced look than its forebear.

The X3 20d contact patches come courtesy of 20″ wheels at each corner and shod with 245/45 and 275/40 rubbers at the front and rear, respectively.

On The Inside

As a side note, the BMW X3 is bigger than the original version of the X5, but that comparison ends there. It’s a leap forward, and that gives us an idea of why buyers prefer the confluence of luxury and practicality.

While it may take die-hard fanatics of the product to pinpoint the subtle changes inside, they’re present and the quality has upped the ante to even higher levels. There are soft touch materials and sturdy switchgear used throughout the cabin. 

The X3 20d adopts the current 4 Series centre console as well as the 12.3-inch free-standing centre console as standard, with the option to upgrade to a touch display of the same size. The system carries out its tasks with so much simplicity and what we laud BMW for would be its consistency with retaining the volume knob and other physical buttons and knobs.

Regarding space, there aren’t any criticisms regarding that as it offers it in spades, further complemented by generous head and legroom for all passengers, plus a big boot space.


The BMW X3 20d is powered by a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine with 140 kW of power and 400 Nm sent wholly to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission.

For the most part, the setup works with so much confidence, but it isn’t perfect. There’s a small margin of turbo lag from the get-go, but that gets sorted once the car has built up momentum and is on the move.

Unlike most diesel powerplants, the one found in the X3 is refined, thus making it a suitable vehicle for longer road trips. With most of the driving done in Comfort mode, the ride of the X3 is more compliant and deals with bumps and road defects with confidence.

The xDrive system and 20″ standard tyres do a remarkable job of keeping you safe by providing plenty of grip even in slightly slippery road conditions.


Despite its small character, the BMW X3 20d doesn’t come cheap at R1,037,176, but that’s when it’s kitted out with the seductive M Sport package worn by our tester. If that’s too much for you, BMW offers the X3 in standard guise for slightly less at R997,176 and if we’re honest, it looks a tad ‘boring’ without the kit.

During our time with the car, it returned 6.5l/100 km with the full tank range coming close to 900 km – these are great figures to witness during an era of astronomically soaring prices. 


The BMW X3 20d is a great specimen of why you don’t need the big numbers sometimes, as it offers a good balance between sporty, practical, luxury, and efficiency. It unreservedly gets our nod of approval.

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