What is it?
The BMW X3 and its rakishly roofed BMW X4 sibling are massive hits for BMW, particularly in China. So the firm has been understandably cautious with this mid-life facelift, leaving the mechanicals largely untouched and instead trying to focus on areas where the model risked falling behind rivals such as the Volvo XC60.
So there are styling changes intended to make it look a bit sportier and add more ‘X-ness’ (that’s BMW parlance for rugged SUV styling) – along with upgrades to the interior trim and technology and a simplification of spec levels, with the most popular optional extra made standard.
Aside from the range-topping M Competition versions (we’ve already sampled the mechanically identical X4 M Competition), the powertrain line-up remains familiar, although every standard model now features a 48V mild hybrid system.
That includes the xDrive 30d version tested here, which is the middle of three diesel options alongside the entry-level 20d and hotter M40d. There are also three petrol-engined choices, and every model offers all-wheel drive as standard.
What's it like?
The exterior styling changes to the X3 include slimmer headlights, sharper bumper creases and an enlarged kidney grille - but don’t fret: it’s still smaller than many of the firm’s recent efforts. It’s definitely a refresh rather than a redesign. Notably, some of the design tweaks to the grille and other styling elements have been made to give the X3 and X4 more individual identities. Our M Sport test car featured a number of extra ‘sporty’ design elements.
The interior makeover is more substantial, with the adoption of the dashboard design and centre console from the 4 Series. There’s a 10.25in touchscreen and Live Cockpit Plus as standard, which can be upgraded to 12.3in versions with a head-up display, as on our test model. The latest version of BMW’s infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa, and is brilliantly usable - especially given the continued presence of a very welcome click wheel.
BMW has made a number of the most popular options on the pre-facelift model standard, including three-zone climate control and sport seats. Aside from the interior upgrade, the dimensions of the X3 remain as before: it’s spacious in the front and rear and has a very usable 550-litre boot.