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The X3 is a luxury compact crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV) produced by German manufacturer BMW since 2003. The X3 is based on the platform of the 3 Series and debuted at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show. All BMW X models feature xDrive all-wheel-drive, a higher seating position and economical engines, and the X3 sits between the entry-level X1 and larger X4 in the model line-up. The X3 has undergone two generations of production, the latest of which was unveiled at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, while the next generation model is expected in 2018. The current X3 underwent a facelift in 2014 to refresh its image and maintain its position amongst market rivals, which include models like the Audi Q5, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Volvo XC60.

The wholly diesel engine line-up available in the X3 comprises a trio of strong performers. The entry-level xDrive20d is an 187bhp 2.0-litre unit and accounts for around 80% of UK sales. This engine is capable of the benchmark 0-62mph sprint in 8.5 seconds and delivers a top speed of 130mph, all while returning 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 135g/km. Also on offer is the mid-range 255bhp single-turbo xDrive30d and the range-topping 309bhp twin-turbo xDrive35d; the latter is mated only to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, while both other engines come with a choice of manual or auto transmission. Running costs in all models are low and the X3 is one of the best choices in its class for retaining its value, making it a sound investment.

Earlier models of the X3 offered a choice of SE or M Sport trim levels, with an additional xLine option added post-facelift to sit between the two. As of 2014, all base trim models are well-equipped as standard, featuring BMW's Business sat-nav and media package, electric tailgate, air-conditioning, all-round electric windows, six-speaker sound system, dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and much more. On top of that, the X3 has a huge 550-litre boot capacity and was awarded the maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating.

The BMW X3 is a stylish, well-equipped and powerful car, and despite its age manages to hold a commanding position amongst the best in the increasingly competitive crossover market.

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