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BIK-friendly BMW X3 unveiled

  • Rear-wheel-drive X3 boasts lowest CO2 emissions and P11d
  • Turbocharged diesel engine makes 143bhp and 360Nm
  • Company car tax will be £213 per month for a 40% payer

BMW has unveiled a new rear-wheel-drive version of X3 which should appeal to company car drivers.

Traditionally a rival to the Audi Q5 and Volvo’s XC90, the X3 was vastly improved in 2011 when an update meant better comfort along with more off-road capability.

The reason business drivers might be attracted to this latest X3 derivative – known as the sDrive18d - is that it offers lower running costs. Thanks to the engine only having to power the rear wheels instead of all four, this model can offer significantly lower tax bills since CO2 emissions are lower.

Equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox, company car tax is payable at 21% thanks to CO2 emissions of 135g/km. The on-the-road price is £28,580 – making it the cheapest X3 available – so if we assume a P11d value of £29,000 to include a few options, we can make an educated guess on the level of company car tax payable. A 40% tax payer will be in for £203 per month.

In terms of range, the sDrive18d has a claimed fuel economy of 55.4mpg on the combined cycle. If you can achieve that, you’ll be looking at a theoretical maximum range of 816 miles.

Powered by a 143bhp diesel engine which makes 360Nm of torque, 62mph is reachable in 9.9 seconds and top speed is 121mph.

For those wishing to tow a caravan, boat or other trailer-based item, this version of the X3 boasts a braked towing weight of 2,000kg.

This entry-level X3 is also available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, but there is a penalty to pay in terms of performance and efficiency. The jaunt to 62mph takes 10.3 seconds, top speed is 118mph, combined fuel economy is 52.3mpg and CO2 emissions are 142g/km – which means company car tax is payable at 22% and monthly tax bills for a 40% tax payer should be around the £213 mark.

When considering specification, the only feature not available on the rear-wheel-drive sDrive18d is Hill Decent Control, which can only be ordered on four-wheel-drive models. Everything else, however, is exactly the same as higher-priced models in the range.