The exterior is more aerodynamic than before, but there's little chance its new-found slipperiness will be mistaken for grace; in league with its swollen dimensions, the X3's aggressive restyle means it now cuts a very imposing figure, especially in our test car's M Sport trim.
A lighter stylistic touch has been applied inside, with a cockpit layout that's not hugely different from its predecessor's but with added smartness and visual interest. Material quality is impressive on all key surfaces, with the remaining hard plastics discretely tucked away, while storage areas are more generous than before. The driving position is sound, with plenty of adjustment. The M Sport’s upgraded seats are both comfortable and supportive, although the accompanying sports steering wheel is perhaps too thick.
Space in the rear seats is now indulgently good. A 6ft 2in frame is able to install behind a driver of the same height with ample flailing room and good outward visibility, and even the centre perch avoids short-straw status. Rear passengers now get their own climate controls as standard, too.
The boot is no larger than before at 550 litres, growing to 1600 litres when the rear seats are folded – but it is usefully squarer. A gas strut helps raise (and hold) the false floor, while the latches inside the powered tailgate fold the seatbacks properly, rather than just releasing them for you to tip down.
Improving on its application in the previous model, the B47 engine's refinement impresses, too, with an unobtrusive hum at idle swelling to nothing more than an acceptably faint groan at high revs. Urge is usefully strong from around 1700rpm to almost 4500rpm. Lag from the gently whistling turbo is palpable but manageable at lower engine speeds, becoming negligible higher up.
The gearbox governs its ratios appropriately in both Normal and Sport modes, although when choosing your own gears with the tiny, steering-wheel-mounted paddles, there's always a short delay and the shifts favour smoothness over brevity.
There's enough heft to the steering in Comfort mode that the heavier and more artificial-feeling Sport mode seems redundant, and we'd happily forego the optional, lock-exaggerating Variable Sport Steering to keep the standard set-up. Still, the tiller is enjoyably responsive and accurate, and while engagement levels won't fool a 3 Series driver, the X3 isn't afraid of attacking a chain of quick-fire bends, aided by fairly tidy body control and good traction. Gentle understeer marks the limits of the latter.
Cruising refinement is excellent, with our test car benefiting from optional acoustic front windows to supplement the standard-fit acoustic windscreen. On a good surface, there's a real luxury to this car's high-speed mien, with acceptable road noise and almost no wind noise. The caveat is applied because seemingly small ripples on the Moroccan test route sometimes elicited fidgeting from our X3 – equipped with optional adaptive dampers and M Sport spec's 19in run-flats – while sharper bumps unmasked a firmness that warrants further investigation at home.