As far as facelifts go, it’s a fairly minor one. The basic mechanical make-up of the D3 is pretty much the same as before. There’s a restyled nose and tail with new lights, improved materials inside and the availability of additional safety kit. Overall, it means that the character of the car is mercifully unchanged.
Where the D3 really scores is in its ability to be almost two cars in one. With the gearbox left to its own devices and dynamic performance control set to Eco-Pro mode, the D3 is an effortless mile-muncher. Despite four exhaust tips, the engine remains subdued as the automatic gearbox shuffles up to the higher ratios as quickly as it can. In the real world, 42mpg on a variety of roads wasn’t too hard to achieve.
Despite the optional 20in wheels fitted to this example (19s are standard), ride comfort is astonishingly good thanks to the Alpina-fettled suspension. It’s no magic carpet – you do still feel the road’s surface – but it does smother all but the nastiest of potholes and ridges. And while these can crash through the suspension, it’s a rare occurrence.
Scroll through the performance control menu to Sport and the chassis tightens its grip on the road while throttle response sharpens. The suspension becomes noticeably firmer, losing the occasional floaty feeling you get in Comfort at speed, without ever becoming uncomfortable. There’s a bit more heft to the steering, too.
As you start to travel faster, you notice the alert front end sending subtle messages through the wheel rim. When your confidence increases, the amount you push the throttle will no doubt increase. Doing this - especially with the gearbox also in Sport mode – completes the transformation from comfortable family wagon to performance monster.
The previously docile engine is suddenly delivering its huge reserves of torque to the rear wheels more urgently, making the optional limited-slip differential seem like a very good idea, even at a stiff £1900. Assuming the rear tyres hook up, you're launched towards the horizon at a pace that would previously have been the preserve of much more exotic machinery.
Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll find the necessary traction, especially on greasy roads. It doesn’t take much throttle to get the rear end edging round, although it is easily gathered up. While xDrive is available on left-hand drive models, it's not an option on UK cars due to packaging constraints.
While the engine may not have the kind of top end reach and thirst for revs many performance enthusiasts crave, riding the wall of torque between 1500rpm and 3000rpm is addictive. The industrial-edged six-cylinder roar coming from the quad pipes certainly helps, too.