It used to be simple to identify BMW M cars as all we had to do was count the number of exhaust tips. However, that’s about to change as M Performance models are going to receive quad tips as well from 2023. Leading the way will be the first-ever X1 M35i while the M135i LCI is set to receive the same treatment. That brings us to today’s spy shots of a next-generation X3 flaunting the meaner-looking setup.

Some outlets have immediately jumped to the conclusion the images depict a full-fat X3 M prototype when it’s in fact an “M Lite” version. The jury is still out on whether it’ll carry the M40i suffix as the current model or whether BMW intends to promote the sporty luxury crossover to the M50i designation. Sources close to Munich have told us this isn’t the whole M shebang, which makes sense since the fenders don’t seem to be wide enough for an X3 M.

Codenamed G45, the next-gen X3 was caught by the spy camera for the first time only a few months ago, so logic tells us it would be too early to see prototypes of the M version running around the Nürburgring. This work-in-progress test vehicle appears to have the production body, but those are definitely not the final headlights and taillights. We do get an idea about how the clusters are shaped, although you’re certainly not going to find old-school halogens in a BMW due to go on sale near the middle of the decade.

The revamped X3 will utilize an updated CLAR platform for the gasoline, diesel, and plug-in hybrid powertrains. However, BMW intends to transition the purely electric iX3 to the Neue Klasse platform. As a matter of fact, it has already been officially announced the architecture will debut in 2025 with a sedan and an SUV in the 3 Series segment.

The use of two separate platforms should bring differentiated styling and proportions between the X3 and iX3 as opposed to today’s models which look almost identical. With the latest X1 (U11) jumping in size to 4500 mm (177 in) long and 1845 mm (72.6 in) wide, don’t be too surprised if BMW intends to make the next X3 larger as well to maintain a safe distance between the two.

Although the prototype is fully camouflaged, it’s easy to see BMW won’t be taking any risks with the X3’s appearance. It appears to have one-piece headlights and a normal kidney grille size, much like it’ll be the case with next year’s facelifts for the X5 and X6 as well as the next-gen 5 Series. It would seem the 7 Series / i7, X7 LCI, and the XM will remain the only models in the lineup to have the controversial front end, at least for the time being.

The G45 X3 is rumored to enter production in August 2024, so it should arrive at BMW dealers across the world by early 2025.

Source: Wilcoblok / Instagram