The potent engine is a belter all round, feeling a tad more refined than its pre-facelift application and a good match for the smooth yet quick-shifting eight-speed auto’. We averaged just over 36mpg on a 300-mile test route – an impressive return for something of this size and weight and with four-wheel drive.
Our test car was equipped with Variable Damper Control, a £650 option. So once you’re over the pace of the car, you can marvel at how impressive the body control is. There’s plenty of grip and the X3 never struggles to transfer its considerable power and torque to the road.
The handling is predictable; flowing bends are to be enjoyed, especially if you engage the sportier driving modes, which sharpen the throttle and add weight to the steering. Reign back a bit and the smooth, comfortable ride can be enjoyed.
The steering is precise enough but lacking in feel, and a slightly unusual gripe concerns the fat M Sport steering wheel: you’ve got to have some big hands to be able to grip the thing the whole way around, making it feel clumsy to use at times.
The rest of the package is the same as in the rest of the X3 range; that means plenty of space inside, a commanding driving position and easy-to-navigate controls.
Should I buy one?
A Porsche Macan S Diesel may just shade the X3 xDrive35d on handling, but the BMW’s superior engine, practicality and economy make it the one to go for in the performance diesel compact SUV stakes. Plus, unlike the Macan, you won’t have to join a lengthy waiting list just to get hold of one.
As impressive as the X3 xDrive35d is, though, its xDrive30d stablemate, which uses a 255bhp single-turbo version of the 3.0-litre straight six, does much of the same job for more than £5000 less. That is the X3 we’d nudge you towards.
Price £45,395; Price as tested £51,170; 0-62mph 5.3sec; Top speed 152mph; Economy 47.1mpg (combined); CO2 157g/km; Kerb weight 1925kg; Engine 6 cyls in line, 2993cc, twin-turbo, diesel; Power 309bhp at 4400rpm; Torque 465lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic