BMW X3 xDrive30i Review: The X Factor

Words by Joel Foo; Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club
11 Jun 2022

Before the rise in popularity of Sports Activity Coupés (SACs) such as the Audi Q3 Sportback, BMW X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé, SUVs (or SAVs in BMW speak) were the ubiquitous choice as the premium family runabout. Particularly so for the BMW X3, being the mid-sized option in BMW’s X-series range of SUVs. But is there good reason to buck this trend in 2022? We find out if the Lifecycle Impulse (LCI) updates to the BMW X3 has made a case for this. 

Thankfully, BMW has kept almost all of the ingredients that made the X3 a success, with minor updates to its exterior, infotainment system and its drivetrain. 

Starting with what’s under the hood, the X3 now comes as a mild-hybrid across all models in the range – xDrive20i and xDrive30i. As you have rightly guessed by the model’s prefix, all locally offered X3s now come with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive as standard. Despite these changes, the X3 has managed to retain the feelings of precision and nimbleness that made the pre-LCI such a joy to pilot

Now carrying a 48V starter-generator which automatically recharges energy through recuperative technology, up to 11 bhp is available on boost for fast starts. This comes on top of the 245 bhp that the 2.0-litre 4-cylinder in this xDrive30i model puts out.

What this mild-hybrid system also allows for is increased seamlessness in start-stop at the lights. Although the system cannot be manually switched off, even by toggling a menu option embedded deep within its iDrive system, the smoothness in operation of the start-stop system has probably made a manual override redundant in the X3. It really takes some effort to notice the system in action, and serves as an excellent complement to the refined nature of this BMW. 

Elsewhere, the X3 LCI receives the same updates as the iX3 LCI we covered earlier in the year. The slimmer LED headlamps and slightly enlarged and angular one-piece grille gives this SUV a sharper appearance. The rear tail lamp clusters have also been refreshed, giving it an unmistakably BMW-look from a distance in darker conditions. 

Inside, the X3 LCI dash and centre console have been given an update. Front and centre is its new 12.3 inch iDrive display, which vastly improves clarity of the BMW iDrive OS 7 interface. Its instrument cluster has been swapped in favour of digital gauges too, which offers the drivers flexibility in alternating between different layouts. To cap these interior changes off, the updated AC vents, climate control buttons and centre console switches definitely feel better to the touch and retain the high standard of build quality that BMW has always offered. 

But are these changes enough to tempt prospects away from the appeal of the various SACs on the market? Whilst these revisions have been mild, they do not take away the essence of the X3 – its sharp handling and responsive nature, packaged in the practical and useful “traditional SUV” body. 

Having a higher roofline and perhaps boxier shape does have its merits in rear passenger headroom and cabinet-moving capabilities. Sitting in its rear quarters, its cabin definitely felt airy and gave the impression of space, which is a luxury compared to the sloping rooflines of most SACs. On the flip-side, some might feel that its boxier shape is a tad bulky – as if one was carrying extra, unused weight around. This is in contrast to the tighter dimensions offered by the coupé-like silhouette of SACs. 

However, having experienced the drive of the X3 and the levels of engagement offered by its drivetrain; especially in combination with a more practical body style, the X3 makes for a strong case even up against the rise in interest over its sportier coupé-like cousins. 

In Summary

We Like

One of the most seamless start-stop systems out there, handles as a BMW should and does not feel any of its weight, practical body style

We Don't

Premium price


The LCI refresh has finally brought the X3 up to par with other BMW models. Possessing a seemingly traditional body style does not necessarily make this SUV lesser to drive than its coupé-styled counterparts. If you're looking to upgrade your existing SUV, this will tick all the boxes for any family

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