What has changed for this middleweight SUV? Very little and, at the same time, rather a lot.

The car’s wheelbase has been extended by 50mm and its overall length by a similar margin, and it’s based on BMW’s lighter, stiffer CLAR platform, as used in the firm’s latest generation of longways-engined saloons and estates.

Richard Lane

Road tester
An BMW X3 or an Audi Q5? If going for four cylinders, I’d take the smoother Audi, but a straight six X3 30d M Sport would be tough to beat

The car has ended up looking sizeable although not excessive for its class. A long bonnet and short overhangs give it a more athletic stance than some rivals and BMW’s trademark kidney grille has become even more prominent than it used to be on the car and increasingly sculpted.

Weight is said to be down by 55kg, with aluminium used for the doors and bonnet and high-tensile steel now found within the floorpan. Our test car weighed a touch more than 1800kg – almost exactly matching the fine-handling Alfa Romeo Stelvio in similar specification.

The engine line-up is similarly familiar. It’s the 188bhp 2.0-litre diesel 20d going under the microscope here, although you can up your cylinder count from four to six by opting for the 3.0-litre 261bhp 30d. Elect for petrol and there’s a choice of either the 181bhp 20i or the 3.0-litre of the M40i, which packs 355bhp.

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A reportedly improved iteration of BMW’s eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox is fitted to all variants (there’s no manual option this time around) as is the xDrive full-time all-wheel-drive system, which defaults to a 40/60 front-to-rear torque split but can, if conditions dictate, deliver the lot to either axle.

Hill descent control is standard, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this car can pass as a proper off-roader, despite the impressive half-metre wading depth.

The X3 comes in three trim levels, beginning with SE, with the more luxurious xLine above it and stiffened M Sport sitting at the top, M40i notwithstanding. 

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