Low-CO2 BMW X3
(Monday 20 August 2012)
BMW has created the most economical and least CO2-emitting example yet of its X3 SUV. The sDrive18d achieves this in two ways: first, it uses a less powerful 143bhp version of the two-litre turbo diesel engine which produces 184bhp in the sDrive20d, and second, it's the only X3 to be driven through just the rear wheels rather than all four.
With prices starting from £28,580 for the SE, it's the cheapest model in the range by nearly £3000, and that may be the best financial reason for buying it. In six-speed manual form it has official combined fuel economy of 52.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 142g/km, the latter putting it in the same Vehicle Excise Duty band as the sDrive20d and therefore making it no cheaper to tax.
It's a different story if you go for the eight-speed automatic transmission instead. Counter-intuitively, the automatic is more economical, since its ability to keep the engine running at the most efficient speed for the conditions outweighs the reduced efficiency of an auto box.
The fuel consumption figure therefore improves to 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions drop to 135g/km. Annual VED payments are therefore £100 rather than £120, while Benefit In Kind taxation for business users falls from 22% to 21%.
Against all that, the automatic gearbox is an optional extra costing £1525, and you might want to see how that affects your calculations. But it's worth bearing in mind that it should have a positive impact on the resale value.