Paired with the eight closely spaced ratios of the short-shifting Steptronic transmission, it’s nicely refined under load and develops enough accessible torque to guarantee that progress remains unflustered and discreet almost all of the time. It is, in a word, amenable.
Engaging? Not so much. Peak twist of 295lb ft arrives between 1750rpm and 2500rpm, soon after which the eight-speed auto is keen to move up a gear and drop the engine speed back into its comfort zone.
Even in manual-shift mode, our test car would hold on until only 4800rpm or so, which is well short of the indicated 5500rpm redline and suggestive of a dearth of efficiency in the higher reaches of the rev range, despite the use of a variable-geometry turbocharger. It’s an engine tuned for the workhorse demands of its target audience, certainly.
With that torque, the X3 is an on-paper match for the Q5 2.0 TDI, although it is a way short of the flooding 347lb ft you get in the 2.2-litre Stelvio diesel.