BMW X3 F25, the transition from wheelbarrow with a steering wheel to a posh chariot. If the first X3 was a curiosity, here’s the BMW X3 F25, rolled out of bed, dressed up, and showed up.
The first generation X3 was in the same boat as the first X5. They took an E46 3 Series, put it on stilts, and launched into the vast unknown. Essentially a taller E46 that had to compete with the E90 (they were on sale on the same period of time) on interior and technology, so it’s easy to see why the X3 wasn’t the most successful BMW ever. Still, many people bought it because it was almost as good and big as an X5, but came with 2 litre engines which were easier on taxes and insurance, and lower overall maintainance costs. It drives like a truck, is equipped like a truck, comfortable like a truck. It wasn’t quite as bad as the X5, but it could have been better. BMW X3 – the official “let’s make it good so it’s not bad” car.
That’s exactly what BMW’s motto was when they launched the next X3. If it was somewhere low on the list previously, the BMW X3 F25 sits instead at the top in terms of comfort and luxury. BMW realized that the average X3 owner doesn’t need 4×4, doesn’t care much or at all about power, and doesn’t need a spare tire because they don’t (or can’t) know how to put it on anyway. So from 2013 on arrives the first version with rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, for those who want an X3 but don’t really have the money for one. Anyway, even an bare-bones X3 is sitting somewhere in the automotive stratosphere of price and status. Prices start somewhere around 45,000 euros and end somewhere after 100,000 euros, so BMW realized that the average owner has a few years under his/her belt and wants a comfort ride, not necessarily sporty. Oh yes, and the badge. Always the badge. Generally with German cars, you pay for the badge and not for the actual car (not you Opel), but BMW and Mercedes are in a different league.
BMW X3 F25 Engines
- 2.0 Turbo of 184 and 245 horsepower – The only 2.0 litre petrol which comes on the X3 and offers decent performance for those who don’t do many miles and usually cruise around town. Beware of the pre-2015 engines as they have the infamous timing chain issue which, if you ignore it long enough, jumps off and spectacularly enters the engine as the NSYNC band comes out of the glovebox singing “Bye!”. Bye! Bye!”
- 3.0 Turbo of 245 and 306 horsepower – I’m not necessarily convinced why you’d want a 306 horsepower X3, but then again, I’m not necessarily convinced by Temptation Island and the fact that over 2 billion people are glued to their TVs watching them. As for issues, there are occasional water pump issues.
- 2.0d of 143, 150, 182, and 190 horsepower – Be careful which engine you pick because they are two very different engines. The first is the N47 head which has the famous timing chain issue. The timing chain stretches and when the timing needs to be replaced, you will have to take out the engine because the timing chain sits at the back of the engine.. Then in 2014 came the facelift with the B47 engine which proved to be a very good engine as long as it gets quality oil every 5,000 miles. Basically, it’s as addicted to oil as I am to Alex Jones’s theories about pretty much everything.
- 3.0d of 258 and 313 horsepower – Unfortunately here no new engines came with the facelift and you’re left with just the N57 which is essentially the N47’s bigger relative. Same timing issues, just much rarer.
BMW X3 F25 General Issues
- Electronics are a common issue in modern BMWs, and the BMW X3 F25 somehow managed to get away with a few low points. However, absolutely every button available on the car should be checked.
- Tire issues, hard to find and hard to digest. Apart from having some sizes that you can’t find in most tire shops, of the few tires available you have to watch out for which model you buy. Apparently, the Pirelli Scorpion is the most suitable. Oh yeah, and being a modern BMW means it only comes with run-flat tires because you don’t have a spare tire or repair kit. It somewhat makes sense, because the typical BMW X3 F25 owner neither knows nor wants to change a tire themselves, they just take out their phone and call the AA.
- BMW’s automatic transmission has always been at the top of quality and reliability, except BMW insists that these transmissions are maintenance-free and will last as long as the car. The reality is that the oil and filter need to be changed every 60,000 km, otherwise the gearbox will last as long as the car. A new automatic gearbox costs so much that when it breaks down, you can write off the car. Even an X3.
- The steering column is more suspicious than a guy in a youth hostel selling snow, even though it’s summer outside.
- The rear space is eaten up by the 4×4 transmission tunnel and it really only has seats 4, not 5. If you cheaped out and got a rear-wheel drive BMW X3 F25, you won’t have this issue. You’ll have issues in winter instead when people laugh at you and your big premium SUV that gets stuck in the parking lot.
- The tow hitch is electrically retractable, costs as much as a studio apartment, and is more fragile than the confidence of a college graduate submitting their first resume.
- The panoramic sunroof can get stuck open or it will rain in your car. Be careful when buying an X3, you should always check the panoramic sunroof to see if it’s working properly.
- Special mention to the xDrive system which has it’s issues and personal issues with the front differential, which it torments and sends it into early retirement.
BMW X3 F25 Verdict
It’s a much more mature car than it has been previously. Unfortunately, it has lost its sporty soul in a sea of cross-overs and SUVs. It’s a big, heavy, comfortable, and non-sporty car. I understand that this is what you buy, this is what you look for, but this is how the BMW spirit is diluted and it slowly becomes just another car manufacturer. Why buy an X3 when you can buy a Q5, GLK, or XC60? The first X3 was an “X5 lite”, with smaller engines and much lower overall maintenance costs. What about this generation’s X3? This generation’s X3 is as big as the first X5. Yes, you save some money on tax and insurance compared to the X5, but in terms of maintenance the gap isn’t as wide. In fact, the distance is so small you can feel it. Behind you. And it’s rear-wheel drive.
What engines do you recommend? I don’t know whether to recommend or not petrol power for the BMW X3, because it’s so far out of it’s character that it goes into another dimension. So I’ll go for the most sensible, most balanced engine overall, the 2 litre 190hp B47 diesel, in the xDrive20d version.