David Motton

See other tow car reviews written by David Motton

THE OLD X3 wasn’t one of BMW’s better efforts, but today’s model is in a different league. As a solo drive and as a towcar, it’s one of the best five-seat 4x4s.There may only be a 2.0-litre engine under the bonnet, but its torque that really counts when towing, not engine capacity. With 280lb.ft of muscle ready to roll up its sleeves, the X3 can pull a Swift Expression 554 with a Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass of 1445kg from 30-60mph in just 10.7 seconds.

Overview

The old X3 wasn’t one of BMW’s better efforts, but today’s model is in a different league. As a solo drive and as a tow car, it’s one of the best five-seat 4x4s.

Towing

There may only be a 2.0-litre engine under the bonnet, but its torque that really counts when towing, not engine capacity. With 280lb.ft of muscle ready to roll up its sleeves, the X3 can pull a Swift Expression 554 with a Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass of 1445kg from 30-60mph in just 10.7 seconds. Some rivals, like the Volvo XC60 D5, are even quicker, but we can’t see too many drivers feeling short-changed. 

Once up to 60mph the X3 feels as though it will happily stay there all day.

The automatic gearbox swaps gears smoothly, combining well with the engine to hold a decent pace even on hilly roads. If you do have to stop on a slope, the auto-hold function prevents car and caravan from rolling backwards before the car pulls away smoothly and without fuss.

In our lane-change test we’d have liked a little more bite from the front tyres but otherwise the X3 was composed and firmly in charge of the caravan.

Everyday driving

Leave the tourer on its pitch and you can really enjoy driving the X3, especially if specified with the optional Variable Damping Control.

Space

Don’t get the impression this BMW can only be enjoyed by the driver. The ride is much more comfortable than the old X3s, and there’s plenty of room to stretch out in the back seats. Luggage space is generous, too. 

Running costs

For such a quick car the official combined economy figure of 50.4mpg is exceptional. However, we achieved a middling 23.7mpg towing around our economy route. 

Technical specs

Kerbweight1800 kg
85% KW1530 kg
Towball limit100 kg
Maximum towing limit2400 kg

Verdict

The BMW’s price may be high, but superb resale values make the X3 a sensible buy.

Conclusion

Pros

  • 50.4mpg official combined economy figure
  • Generous luggage space
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