The Numbers

1995cc, 4cyl, AWD, 140kW, 400Nm 5.2L/100km, 136g/km CO2 0–100km/h in 8.1secs, 210km/h 1820kg

The Topgear Verdict

Smooth and comfortable even on terrible roads, an excellent new engine, and better fuel economy - the updated X3 is a terrific SUV.

2014 BMW X3

What’s new about it?

The X3 has been lightly rebooted with new engines and polished looks. In its sharpest-dressed form, the xDrive30d ponies up 190kW, 560 torques and hits 100km/h in 6.2secs, while averaging a claimed 6.0L/100km. That would have been crazy talk not so long ago, never mind in a smallish SUV.

The model that matters most, the xDrive20d, gets a new 4cyl turbodiesel engine barely less impressive. This will soon be rolled out across BMW’s range, while the X3’s rather fussy styling is given a gentle polish, its interior quality enhanced, and yet more fashionable connectivity crowbarred in. A decade after a wobbly start, the X3 isn’t so much a car as a steamroller of competence.

The new engine is fantastic. It’s an all-aluminium unit with a clever evolution of BMW’s commonrail injection, power is up from 135kW to 140kW, while 400 torques are shovelled out in the mid-range 1,750–2,500rpm band. BMW claims a combined average of 5.2L/100km, down marginally from 5.6 in the previous model. This is as pleasing to the dog-owning, child-spawning private buyer as it is to the fleet overlord.

What’s it like to drive?

Several key things are immediately apparent. Although the engine emits a baritone rumble on start-up, that’s it as far as dieselly noises go. On the move, even the world’s finest NVH specialist would be hard pushed to distinguish this unit from its petrol equivalent.

We drove the X3 in New York, a city so besieged by roadworks it makes Australian roads look like billiard tables; even here the BMW is supple. Further upstate, a smattering of corners suggests the X3 remains a most dynamic SUV, with moderate body roll, decent steering and considerable chassis poise. Our car had the optional 8spd auto, so while the engine is barely ticking over at motorway speeds it can be a little sleepy when you need to overtake quickly. It’s not the magic-bullet future of motoring, but it is extremely good.

What’s it worth?

The base model xDrive 20i will set you back $60,900. The xDrive 20d is $64,400, while the xDrive 28i will demand $73,400. The range-topping xDrive 30d is $77,400.

Would you buy this or a Range Rover Evoque?

The Baby Rangie has head-turning looks and the new transmission is a winner. The base Evoque is a good 20 grand cheaper than the base X3, while the top end models are roughly similar in price. The new X3 really is excellent… but so is the Evoque. Which one do you like the look of better?

Driven: June 12, 2014