Isn’t she pretty? That’s something you couldn’t say about the previous model. The proportions are more pleasing, indeed more BMW-like. In fact compare the sizes and you find the new X3 is almost the size of the original X5 so  she has also  put on a touch of weight. All  in all quite a good package. The other thing is the quality of the exterior has been given a sprinkle with pixie dust. It looks and feels expensive with the creases and curvy bumps smoothed to  become slightly  more  subtle.

The Xdrive 2.8i squats on fat 18” wheels which have given the X3 the angry aggressive look it always deserved. The outside really  looks the business. now its been given the new corporate suit. The mirrors  fold and the headlights have a Xenon option. If you decide to keep you hands in your pockets, the standard light also have daytime running as standard..image

Some of the pixie dust has been saved for the interior. The inside feels to be better quality than before, and only the happiest, best fed cows from the nicest barbwire free pastures have been asked to lay down their lives to cover the seats,  doors and other bits and bobs. They must have been corralled right next to the trees used to cover the dash and door  trims. It it’s plastic,  then I  certainly  can’t tell the difference. I  don’t normally suggest you buy the factory GPS  because almost without exception they hideously difficult to use. Indeed such has been the case with old BMW’s. But the X3 is really rather simple. Most folk look bewildered when they see knobs and buttons and leers, but the truth is most of them fall  into a few categories: Climate, vehicle customisation and audio. The I drive makes takes care some functions with large friendly knobs for  the climate. It’s all very straight forward and joy of joys paring your mobile doesn’t require an advanced degree in electronics  and 3 large whiskies to complete. What’s more it’s loud and clear in both directions. I for one am particularly lazy  when it  comes to making changes to a car so I love  simple functions. The easier the better and I  referred to the user guide a few times for minor adjustments only.

BMW has gone all high tech with the gear selector/parking brake. The whole shebang is electric and the shifter is really just  a joystick that moves forward and back to  select the gears and button for park and parking brake. It took a took a few jiffs to make it all work  for me. As did the keyless entry and go, but once sorted it was a joy to use. It’s worth noting the Idrive in the X3 is considerably easier to use than the sexy little Mini we drove a few weeks ago which was delightfully quirky, but a bit cumbersome. The instrumentation is very clear and the controls easy to hand and easy to use.

There was plenty of room even with 4 beefy lads aboard, and oodles of punch from the 3.0L straight six. On a side note, don’t be confused by the BMW numbering system because it has all changed, and there are more changes to come. the 2.8 doesn’t relate to the engine size and the “3” now relates to the numbers of doors and where it sits in the range. The odds (1,3,5,7) have 4/5 doors and the evens (2,4,6) have 2 doors with or without a roof, or at least this is how it looks so far. It’s a bit of a shame for those of us who looked at the badge and knew a 320c meant a 3 series coupe with a 2 litre engine. Why it has been changed is beyond me but no doubt it makes sense to someone back in Germany.