The new G01 BMW X3 won’t make it to the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, but that hasn’t stopped Munich from revealing the first official “spy photos” of the new compact SUV in the days before the show. The new car is seen undergoing harsh winter testing in the north of Sweden, in the icy Lapland town of Arjeplog.

Although the mules seen here still wear camouflage, the toned-down disguise allows us to get a better glimpse at the design of the G01. The front end is clearly inspired by the current F30 3 Series with its trapezoidal headlights, but the kidney grilles they are attached to have been enlarged to an almost comical degree.

The side profile remains similar to the outgoing F25 model, with a beltline that drops down around the wing mirror and picks up aft of the C-pillar, the latter creating a gentler version of the signature Hoffmeister kink. One change is the Air Breather vents aft of the front wheel arches – seen on almost every other new BMW – to reduce wheel arch turbulence and hence drag. The characteristic L-shaped tail lights remain.

Aside from the M Sport package, which includes larger front air intakes, deeper side sills and a more aggressive rear bumper, the mule is also fitted with contrasting grey wing mirror caps, larger M disc brakes with blue callipers and twin exhaust exits. These are telltale cues of an M Performance car, meaning that the new X3 will likely gain an M40i variant that the X4 received, but which eluded the outgoing X3.

This is bolstered by the rorty six-cylinder engine note heard in the video below, which hints of what is likely the 3.0 litre turbocharged straight-six from the X4 M40i, which in that application develops 360 hp at 5,800 to 6,000 rpm and 465 Nm of torque from 1,350 to 5,250 rpm. An eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is almost certainly the sole transmission option for this variant, as is the case with the X4 M40i.

Other powertrain options include the standard range of turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines, as well as a full-fat, M4-engined X3 M later on. There will also likely be an eDrive plug-in hybrid version, using the 330e’s 2.0 litre turbo four-pot and electric motor to produce 252 hp, while a full electric version is set to go on sale at the end of the decade.

Under the skin, the G01 X3 is expected to use the modular rear-biased Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform which underpins the G11 7 Series and G30 5 Series. These underpinnings, which are set to bring forth significant weight savings, will also form the basis for future models, including the next-generation 3 Series.