What is it?
It’s a small detail, but I do love the way the M-style mirrors on this BMW X3 M set it apart from its regulation siblings. This means that even before you’ve hit the big red starter button, you know you’re in ‘the hot one’.
And here we are, with a first UK drive of the fettled, hottest, littlest BMW M SUV (and yes, apologies the images are of a left-hooker - we have assuredly driven the car in the UK). It has been refreshed and upgraded recently, gaining updated looks, a useful 37lb ft more torque and extra equipment.
The extra grunt from the 3.0-litre petrol straight six means the 0-62mph sprint time drops by 0.3sec, so the marketing people can claim the headline acceleration is completed in less than 4.0sec. That's not bad for a family SUV, and means it now matches the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S.
There is engineering integrity here. The X3 has the same forged crankshaft as the BMW M3 and BMW M4, which has a lower rotating mass, meaning the engine should rev more freely. Additional cooling is taken care of in this facelifted model thanks to an extra engine oil radiator and a separate one for the transmission.
Visual changes on the outside run to larger kidney grilles (predictably), but the most striking aspect is the new “vertically arranged and elongated side air intakes”. I wouldn’t say they’re a pretty addition, but they certainly increase the aggression. Even without the standard sports exhaust (a nicely raspy little number, by the way), people are going to notice you.
Inside, Android Auto now works with the X3’s operating system and the carbonfibre trim is standard. Anything that reduces the amount of piano-black plastic on display can only be a bonus.
One thing: you will know if you’re in the facelifted X3 M by where the starter button is. Next to the gearlever? That will be the latest version.