If you can afford it, then the superb new BMW X3 has incredible road presence
My son and I had big plans around the new BMW X3. We were going to drive it on its launch back from Malaga in southern Spain to the BMW British headquarters near Farnborough.
On the way, we would take a day or two in northern Spain, then a leisurely drive through France until crossing under the British Channel on the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. We would then visit a couple of places where I had spent some of my childhood before returning the car, and he would go back to his job as an economist in London and I would fly back to Dublin.
Unfortunately, our massive road trip never happened, the best-laid plans of mice and men came to naught, corporate concerns and all that intervened. However, we made up for it a bit by a few days spent discovering Norfolk and Cambridge.
I only caught up with the X3 a couple of weeks ago; between snows, as it were, which was a pity as it has great off-road potential. It was also a shame that we hadn't had it available for a drive across Europe as it also has incredible road presence, safety systems as well as a dignified calm when travelling at speed on motorways.
The X3 has come a long way from its rather bad start in 2004 when it was very much looked down as vastly inferior and poorly built compared to the X5. The third-generation model is now as large as the X5 of those days but stays firmly as a five-seater.
Much of the cabin takes its cue from the impressive 5-Series saloon which was launched last year so there is a real quality feel with plenty of technology on offer. But it doesn't come cheap.