A facelifted BMW X3 has only just gone on sale, but already prototypes of the next generation have been spied.

    Based on traditional BMW product cycles, the new X3 isn’t expected to launch until 2024 or 2025.

    Our spy photographers have captured what appears to be an M40i model, or whatever nameplate the flagship M Performance model will wear.

    The giveaway is the presence of quad exhaust outlets, as seen on the current M40i.

    The next X3’s design is an evolution of that of the current car, with essentially the same silhouette and similar details like the way the belt line bends upward at the rear doors.

    BMW has been careful not to shake up the popular X3’s design formula too much over the years, with these elements remaining largely the same across all three generations.

    The headlights and tail lights appear to be temporary prototype units, though unless our eyes (or rather, the camouflage) deceive us, the next X3 looks set to retain a conventionally sized grille.

    There appear to be holes below the grille, which suggests the grille will drop down a little lower than that of the current car.

    It doesn’t, however, appear to indicate the X3 will follow the 4 Series, M3 and M4, which have moved to a plunging, double-coffin grille.

    We expect the X3 will continue to offer a wide variety of powertrains like the current car.

    The current X3 can be had with a choice of turbocharged four- or six-cylinder petrol or diesel engines, including the hot twin-turbo inline six found in the X3 M, plus a plug-in hybrid and an electric version (the iX3).

    It also has a close relation in the X4, a sleeker ‘coupe SUV’ variant of the popular X3.

    The next X3 and X4 will square off against the recently revealed, second-generation Mercedes-Benz GLC.

    A new Audi Q5 has also been spied, and could be revealed in 2023, while Volvo is expected to replace its XC60 in 2024.

    The X3 is currently the best-selling vehicle in its segment in Australia, and received a facelift earlier this year which brought freshened styling inside and out – though it hasn’t yet received the BMW Curved Display being rolled out across the range.

    To the end of May, BMW has sold 2004 X3s along with 409 X4s.

    In contrast, Mercedes-Benz has sold 1721 GLC wagons and 792 GLC Coupes, Volvo has sold 1707 XC60s, and Audi has sold 1494 Q5s.

    Other popular models in this segment include the Lexus NX (1461) and Porsche Macan (1317).

    MORE: Everything BMW X3

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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