PROPELLING nearly two tons of metal to more than 60mph in less than six seconds is no mean feat.
So it is a testament to the pedigree of the theoretical horses, all 313 of them, powering this range-topping SUV that they do it with such consummate ease.
The 3.0 litre diesel engine under the bonnet of the X3 35d M Sport is an absolute stonker and yet more proof of BMW's increasing prowess in producing powerful yet civilised oil burners.
As well as catapulting you to from a standstill to 62mph in just 5.8 seconds, it is capable of eating up the autobahn at an eye-watering 149 miles per hour.
The power comes on in spades right the way up the rev range with impressive throttle response and smooth acceleration, and almost imperceptible gear changes managed by the super-slick eight-speed automatic transmission which comes as standard on this model
Many a sports car can't offer this kind of pace and performance, let alone family sized 4x4s, and that's why the X3 is such a hoot. It's a fully family friendly motor that's also ridiculously good fun to drive.
The xDrive 4x4 traction system ensures you are stuck like glue to the road at all times and a balanced suspension and responsive steering all help to provide an engaging drive with some nimble handling for such a big vehicle.
Body roll is controlled very well and the ride is settled and comfortable for the most part despite the more sporty set-up on this version.
It is very refined too. Most of the time you'd be hard pressed to know you were driving a diesel and there is little wind or road noise either, even at motorway speeds.
Thanks to a range of the latest efficiency innovations though, not least an automatic start/stop function, all that power and pace doesn't come at bankruptcy inducing costs.
If you're not putting the pedal to the metal all of the time this flagship X3 is capable of a very respectable 46.3 miles per gallon on average with carbon emissions pegged back to a reasonable 162g/km.
Elsewhere the X3 pretty much lives up to BMW's premium billing.
The reassuringly solid clunk when you close the doors tells you that everything is very solidly put together and inside there is space and quality aplenty.
Head and leg room is generous in front and back and the luxurious leather seats are comfortable and supportive.
Although the creamy oyster colour on the car I drove managed to survive a week with my kids unblemished you may want to specify a more practical hue for longer term family use.
The centre console is simply laid out and user friendly with all knobs and buttons within reasonable reach - although there are the options to control various functions via the multi-function steering wheel or a neat rotary knob and control panel next to the electronic handbrake switch.
A premium model also gets premium kit with dual-zone air conditioning, ambient lighting, a 6.5-inch colour screen, brushed aluminium trim, four electric windows, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, push-button ignition, front and rear parking sensors, 18-inch alloys and a chrome oval tailpipe all standard with M Sport trim.
In typical BMW fashion any number of comfort aids, gadgets and gizmos can be added depending upon how far your wallet will stretch with DAB radio, electronic lumbar support and driver seat adjustment and a top grade satnav among the popular options.
With it's imposing size and solid build you'd expect the X3 to keep you safe and you wouldn't be wrong.
It has the top five star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests and safety features include stability control, cruise control with brake function, anti-lock brakes, cornering brake control and front, side and curtain airbags.
But with such top-end, high performance and well-equipped motors it's quite often the thoughtful little touches that bring that extra satisfaction.
In this case I was particularly enamoured of the way that little lights under each door handle automatically lit up at night, so that they could be easily found, when the unlock button on the remote key fob was pressed.