How Does The 2018 BMW X3 Stack Up Against Its Predecessor?

It’s been the better part of seven years and BMW have finally revealed an all-new X3, aimed at the likes of the Mercedes GLC, all-new Volvo XC60, Audi Q5 and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

It was about time, wasn’t it? Especially with so many up-to-date rivals rounding out the premium compact SUV segment. By the way, feel free to throw the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio in there, too.

When BMW first lifted the wraps off the second-generation X3 at the 2010 Paris Auto Show, they knew it was going to make a splash thanks to its massively upgraded styling, redesigned interior and punchy yet economical power units.

With the third-generation model, the Bavarian automaker hasn’t exactly gone back to the drawing board as much in terms of styling. Sure, the design is completely new compared to the old X3, but the lines remain familiar to anybody who’s seen the latest X1.

Even so, you can’t miss the new model’s “three-dimensional” kidney grille, sharper side crease lines and overall more muscular appearance. If you opt for the M Sport package, you get an even more aggressive exterior, which to be fair was also available for the old X3, although its M-specific kit had a more angular and simplistic design.

The difference between the two models becomes even more evident once you view the new X3’s cockpit layout. BMW spoke about the hexagonal forms and sloping edges within the cabin, and we can’t help but agree. The new design is a lot more modern and in line with what BMW is doing with the rest of its 2017-2018 models. A close look at the center console, specifically the audio system and climate control area, reveals that the two have been inverted – you’ve got the CD player on top of the climate buttons, whereas before it was the other way around.

Then there’s the versatile ambient lighting package available for the new X3, something that the older model lacked, as it did a 10.25″ touchscreen with Gesture Control plus a whole barrage of active safety and connectivity systems. In fact, in 2014, when BMW updated the second-gen X3, it only got new chrome and high-gloss black materials for the dashboard to go with a redesigned console, new upholstery colors and an update to the iDrive system.

As for performance, the new X3 M40i flagship will skip to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.8 seconds, whereas the old flagship, the X3 xDrive35i, need 5 and a half seconds – the xDrive35d was actually a bit quicker (5.3s).

Bottom line, there’s no doubt BMW have upgraded everything that needed to be upgraded so that the X3 can compete against the best in the segment again. It’s no revolution, but we didn’t expect one anyway, and while it’s still recognizable as an X3, you can tell it apart from the old model without having to try too hard.


  • Rasta_Farian

    I am certain it’s just me. And don’t get me wrong: I love cars. But if you plopped me in either one back-to-back, I’d probably struggle mightily to figure out which one is the newer one. And I’d probably be completely clueless just looking at the exterior. I’m sure it’s a better car overall, it just looks so similar to it’s predecessor. I guess if it ain’t broke…

    • Dennis James

      The problem is…it was broken.

    • Liam Paul

      I couldn’t tell the difference, still can’t. I like the grey one on the outside better but like the white ones dash better.

  • Dennis James

    About the same…no better no worse. But the bar is set pretty low anyway.

    It seems that the BMW has a real issue with designing properly-looking headlights. This is happening for like 10 years now…

    • alexxx

      I am bmw fan and agree with you…they just can’t design those headlights right..

  • Maher

    This is the 1st X3 that I really like, BMW did a great job in designing this car.

  • kimbentsen

    They look the same to me.

  • pcurve

    last one was ugly but beautiful in its own way. This new one is good looking, but nothing special.

  • Aquaflex

    I can tell the difference and it’s better looking on the new one especially the interior and the engines…maybe the new one is lighter in weight?

  • Dustin

    No mention of the missing Hoffmeister kink? A design staple of all BMWs, now gone altogether. Now the DLO (daylight opening) looks like a Nissan or any other of the million other SUVs out there.

  • Kaisuke971

    If you can’t tell the difference you must be either trolling or blind.

  • Bash

    Kinda like the older headlights more, but I see lots of nip-tuk improvements here and there.


    I prefer Alfa Romeo Stelvio !

  • psiqtas

    Gosh, and people do really thin it’s an all new car when it is only another face-lift…

  • TheBelltower

    The X3 used to be the ugly duckling in the SUV section of the BMW showroom. The X1 was by far the best design. It was smart to bring the design of the X3 closer together with the X1.

  • europeon

    I can’t tell which one is the new generation, and I don’t think I care.

  • badcyclist

    BMW followed Audi in just slapping the touchscreen onto the dash, rather than incorporating it into the interior design of the car. It’s like they designed the rest of the car and then remembered, “Oh, yeah, we’ve still got to jam the touch screen in somewhere. Ah, to hell with it, let’s just tack it up on top here?”

    • Keen

      Just in case you don’t know…Audi do not have any touchscreen(or used to, new A8 got a touch one finally, but not available yet.

  • MarketAndChurch

    I think the new one has everything going for it. I just feel like the designer put on designing the front bumper should be reassigned somewhere else next time.

  • benT

    “How Does The 2018 BMW X3 Stack Up Against Its Predecessor?”

    Does anyone REALLY care?

  • Tom

    … 360° facelift, hmm …

  • Subi-Rubicon1

    I like the updates that have been done, however, I think they could have done a little more than simply what looks like a facelift. Great updates though.

  • Arsh

    I have the predecessor, it works for what it is designed to do, so can’t really complain. It is quick enough in traffic, high enough for a game drive, and has the boot space for the kids and wife’s stuff.

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