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While it wasn’t BMW’s first SUV, the X3 remains a brand staple. One that, in X3 M Competition spec, makes over 500 hp. But while a used BMW X3 might not quite as much power, it’s often significantly cheaper. Plus, some used examples offer a feature missing on the latest X3. And it’s a feature the 2008 BMW X3 3.0si up for auction this week on Cars & Bids has.

The first-gen E83 BMW X3 lets you carve corners and row your own gears

An overhead front 3/4 view of a tan 2007 BMW X3 3.0si crossing a wooden bridge over rocky ground
2007 BMW X3 3.0si front 3/4 overhead | BMW

Today, only a small handful of SUVs offer manual transmissions. But once upon a time, manual SUVs were slightly more plentiful. And the first-gen ‘E83’ BMW X3 was among their number.

After its 2003 introduction, the E83 BMW X3 received a facelift and some updates in 2007, Car and Driver explains. The crossover got a more compliant ride, an upgraded interior, and a new powertrain. Instead of the 3.0i’s 3.0-liter inline-six, the X3 3.0si uses a…3.0-liter inline-six.

No, that’s not a typo or a mistake. But while the E83 BMW X3 3.0si’s engine shares a displacement figure with the 3.0i’s engine, the two aren’t identical. The 3.0si uses the ‘N52’ engine from the contemporary E90 3 Series. As a result, instead of 225 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque, the 3.0si has 260 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque, Autoweek reports.

The extra power combined with standard AWD means the BMW X3 3.0si goes 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds, MotorTrend says. But that’s with the optional six-speed automatic transmission. With the standard six-speed manual, the 3.0si hits 60 mph 0.2 seconds sooner. And the manual itself is satisfying to shift, Autoweek notes.

The facelifted BMW X3 3.0si offered an optional Sport Package with firmer suspension, sportier tires, and larger wheels. But the base SUV handles so well that the package is “all but unnecessary,” Car and Driver says. The X3 3.0si’s steering is communicative and well-weighted and its AWD system is paired with traction and stability control. But both of the latter systems can be deactivated if the mood arises.

There’s a manual 2008 BMW X3 3.0si on Cars & Bids

A tan 2008 BMW X3 3.0si parked by the side of the road
2008 BMW X3 3.0si | Cars & Bids

Although many E83 BMW X3 buyers went with the automatic, the 2008 model currently listed on Cars & Bids has the manual. And the SUV itself is fully stock with less than 85,000 miles on the clock.

This 2008 BMW X3 3.0si is also a fairly well-equipped example of an E83 X3. It has a panoramic sunroof, ash wood trim, adaptive xenon headlights, leather upholstery, navigation, and auto-dimming mirrors. Plus, it comes with rain-sensing wipers, power-folding side mirrors, aluminum running boards, and 18” alloy wheels.

The tan-leather-upholstered front seats and ash-wood-trimmed tan-and-black dashboard of a 2008 BMW X3 3.0si
2008 BMW X3 3.0si front interior | Cars & Bids

To be sure, this 2008 BMW X3 3.0si isn’t in perfect condition. It has some exterior and interior scrapes and scuffs as well as some floormat staining. There’s also a hole in the front passenger door card, and the rear bumper was replaced following a minor accident. However, it received a new transfer case in 2018, and a new water pump, thermostat, and coolant hoses in 2019. That was also when the radiator was repaired and the coolant was flushed. And in preparation for the sale, the seller replaced the sway bar links, strut mounts, and the oil, as well as had some dents repaired.

It’s a stick-shift luxury sport SUV bargain

As of this writing, this 2008 BMW X3 3.0si is listed on Cars & Bids for $6100 with four days left in the auction. Considering similar examples on Autotrader cost roughly $11K, this SUV is a real bargain.

It’s worth noting that some BMW X3 model years are problematic. However, the 2008 model year isn’t one of them. And based on this SUV’s repair history, it appears that previous owners addressed one of the E83 X3’s flaws, which is cooling system leaks, BMW Tuning notes. And in terms of powertrain reliability, although it’s not perfect, the N52 is one of the most reliable BMW engines.

In short, this 2008 X3 is an affordably-priced stick-shift sporty luxury SUV. And today, that’s a rarity.

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