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BMW X3

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BMW’s new X3 has got off to a flying start, it’s only been a few weeks since its launch and it’s already been voted ‘Off-Roader of the Year 2011’ by German magazine Off Road. The X3 won the fiercely competitive SUV category, fighting off stiff competition from Volvo’s XC60, Audi’s Q5 and Land Rover’s Freelander.

I think it’s fair to say that BMW have done a great job with the new, much improved X3. It’s grown up, and not just in terms of looks as it’s larger than its predecessor but to drive also. The old model was harsh and uncomfortable on back roads, whereas this new one cushions the pot holes remarkably well and yet still retains sharp and responsive handling characteristics.

Inside the X3 is clean and simple, the cabin is larger than the previous model and offers more room for passengers, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re driving an X5. The xDrive 20d SE I drove is fitted with BMW’s xDrive as standard, it’s their four wheel drive system. The four cylinder 184hp diesel engine pulls well and works in unison with the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox fitted to my test car. If you’re going to tick any extras on the order form make sure to opt for the auto box, it really makes for relaxed driving, the gear changes are swift and quiet. Apart from the gearbox there’s not much else required as the standard level of equipment is sufficient. This includes leather upholstery, climate control, cruise control, parking sensors front and rear, automatic lights and wipers.

The X3’s pricing is in fact over €4,000 less than the outgoing model, with the xDrive 20d SE starting at €46,660.The only anxiety I see BMW having with their new X3, is that it could hurt sales of their X5.

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