WHEN the owner of an Aston Martin and an Audi Q7 bounded across to examine my test car and ask questions about it I realised that it must be something a bit special to attract so much attention from someone with such a discerning taste for good cars writes Bryan Longworth.
I was driving the new BMW X3 with dark blue paintwork which gave the latest shape of the Beemer a classy appearance that no doubt was responsible for attracting the attention of the aforementioned well heeled female motorist as she parked her Aston Martin.
The latest X3 has only recently gone on sale after the previous model created a good image in this market sector and the first impression is that it is quite a bit larger and indeed seems to be almost as big as the larger X5.
The increase in size has helped in my opinion to provide a more balanced styling and greater presence for the X3 which has a higher standard specification than the previous model but has a lower on the road price which is something unusual these days.
It also has the lowest emissions for a four wheel drive model in this segment and it is also the first to have auto start-stop with an eight speed automatic transmission.
Owners can personalise the feel of the new X3 through Variable Damper Control which electronically controls the dampers to adapt to any road surface and the driver can adjust this system through Drive Dynamic Control..
As standard is xDrive permanent four wheel drive that ensures variable distribution of drive to the front and rear axles depending on the road or off-road conditions
My test car was the X3 xDrive 20d SE priced at £30,490 on the road and the 2.0-litre four cylinder engine produced a top speed of 130mph, an acceleration time of zero to 62mph in 8.5 seconds and a fuel consumption of over 50mpg.
The new X3 not only looks better than the previous model which was obvious from the attention it attracted but it provided a more enjoyable and satisfying drive with very impressive handling.
Despite it being £115 less than the previous model standard kit includes leather upholstery, two zone air conditioning and iDrive controller and colour display - and I found the controversial iDrive system much more user friendly.
The new X3 is up against some formidable competition such as the Audi Q5 and Land Rover Freelander 2 which are extremely good vehicles but the BMW is just as good and admirers of the marque will be impressed with the latest model.
In fact I found it difficult finding anything to criticise and the latest X3 which is built in the USA is a car with all weather ability that will impress wherever it goes as that previously mentioned lady driver and other admirers confirmed.
My Verdict: A top premium all weather car.
Model: New BMW X3.
Engine: 2.0-litre four cylinder diesel.
Transmission: Eight speed automatic.
Top speed: 130mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 8.5 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 50.4mpg.
CO2 emissions: 149g/km.