The facelifted 2021 BMW X3 M has been spotted undergoing winter testing in northern Europe, ahead of an expected unveiling in the first half of this year.
Changes to BMW's mid-size performance SUV for its mid-life facelift – dubbed 'LCI' in BMW parlance – appear to be concentrated around the X3 M's front and rear fascias, with the example spotted by our spy photography partners devoid of swirl-pattered disguise along its flanks.
Up front, heavy camouflage around the SUV's kidney grilles indicate an updated shape versus that of the current model, with the pair of grilles expected to adopt a conjoined look like that of the latest X5 large SUV, rather than the taller, more controversial look offered with the new M3 and M4 mid-sizers.
Slimmer headlights flank the new grilles, with an updated LED lighting signature hiding within.
It's worth noting the aforementioned changes are expected to largely carry over to standard, non-performance petrol- and diesel-powered X3 models.
At the rear, updated LED tail-light signatures and a tweaked lower bumper appear to comprise the only changes.
Inside, changes are understood to be minor, given BMW's latest 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen and iDrive 7 (OS7.0, as it's known) infotainment system were added to the X3 M (and its coupe-styled X4 M sibling, pictured in the background) from April 2020 production onwards.
Expect revisions to comprise new upholstery and trim options, and a restyled automatic gear selector.
Under the bonnet, the 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged 'S58' inline-six petrol engine is all-but-confirmed to carry over, though whether any changes will be made to the straight-six mill for the LCI model remains unclear.
While base and Competition models are offered in Europe, only the hi-po latter is offered in Australia, developing 375kW of power and 600Nm of torque.
That's 50Nm down over the new M3 and M4 Competition, indicating the X3 M and X4 M could be in line for a performance boost to match their low-riding siblings.
Given the level of disguise worn by the prototype, the 2021 BMW X3 M is expected to make its full debut sometime this year.
Trusted BMW insider and BimmerPost forum user ynguldyn reports production of the regular facelifted X3 will commence in July 2021, all-but-confirming a reveal for that model in the first half of 2021.
Given facelifted M models tend to closely follow the unveilings of their standard counterparts by no more than a few weeks, expect the X3 M LCI to debut alongside or shortly after the regular X3.