The current F25 BMW X3 is getting a bit old, with a replacement on its way, but it’s still one of BMW’s best-selling cars. No surprise there, with the American market’s obsession with small SUVs and the fact that the X3 is a great all-rounder, the X3 is sure to sell well. Despite it’s age, it’s still a very good, very capable car with a lot going for it. But its competitors are getting younger and fresher, with new technologies and more modern designs, both inside and out. So does the old dog still have what it takes to compete in this segment?
The two newest SUVs to debut in the X3’s segment are the Mercedes-Benz GLC Class, which is the X3’s closest competitor, and the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Autocar has gotten all three SUVs together for a long test to see which is the best.
In terms of looks, the X3 is clearly the oldest car in the group. Debuting in 2011, the current X3 is nearing the end of its life-cycle and it shows. The other two, however, are just beginning theirs. The Mercedes GLC does look good, but it’s a touch boring while the Land Rover Disco Sport is positively fresh looking. It’s a little funky, but the Disco is the best looking of the three.
In terms of interior, Autocar felt that the GLC had the most upscale cabin, though its ergonomics are a bit of a mess and the column shifter was much maligned, by us as well (It’s ridiculous, the car is a modern Mercedes-Benz, not a ’40s Buick. Ditch the column shifter). The Disco Sport had the least upscale interior, but its utilitarian functionality was actually deemed quite refreshing and pleasant. The X3 was the least attractive, given its age, but it made up for that with the best ergonomics and possibly even the best build quality.
All three cars were fitted with four-cyldiner diesel engines and ZF-sourced automatic gearboxes, the Land Rover and Mercedes both being the new nine-speed unit while the X3 is the older, but still excellent, eight-speed ‘box. All three are equipped with each brand’s all-wheel drive system and all three ride on conventional suspension, rather than air suspension. So it’s a pretty fair fight between the three of them. Though, despite all of their similarities, it’s rather surprising how different they become on the road.
The new GLC’s 2.1 liter diesel engine, making 201 bhp, was the fastest car of the test, with the BMW coming in second-place with its 188 bhp 2.0 liter engine and the Disco Sport coming in last with its 178 bhp and added weight over the other two. The X3 was deemed the sportiest car of the bunch, with the least amount of body roll and good steering, though its standard suspension was said to be a bit too stiff. The GLC had strange handling characteristics, as it was nice and soft around town and at low speeds but somewhat fell apart at higher speeds and it crashed a bit over bumps. And the Disco was said to have the best combination of comfort and agility, with good steering and a feeling of sure-footedness. Plus the Disco Sport is the only car of the three that can properly off-road, while the other two can handle a gravel driveway…maybe.
In the end, Autocar deemed the Discovery Sport to be the best SUV of the three, as it offered the best overall package of handling, comfort and utility, as it was the best off road and the only car to have seating for seven. The GLC came in second place, thanks to its freshness, gorgeous cabin and speedier performance. The X3 came in last, but a valiant last. It’s getting old so it’s understandable that far newer cars would be superior. However, the X3 still does have a lot to offer and is an excellent overall package. But according to Autocar, it wasn’t as good as the other two.[Source & Top Photo: Autocar]