BMW X3 hybrid review
|Car type||Electric range||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions|
|Plug-in hybrid||29 miles||135mpg||48g/km|
BMW's drive to electrify almost every model it sells continues with this plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of its popular X3 family SUV – a direct rival for the Mercedes GLC, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60 plug-in hybrids. And with the arrival of the iX3, the X3 has become BMW's first model to offer a choice of pure-electric, plug-in hybrid, petrol and diesel power.
The 'xDrive30e' plug-in hybrid drivetrain – basically the same as that found in the BMW 530e hybrid saloon – is obviously good news for the X3's CO2 emissions and fuel-economy. It returns 135mpg economy and puts out 48g/km of CO2 in official testing, thanks to a potential pure-electric range of a shade under 30 miles.
Those figures are impressive when laid against the X3 hybrid's total power output of 288bhp, courtesy of its 181bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine working in concert with a 108bhp electric motor, fed by a 12kWh battery. Four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox are standard.
While most plug-in hybrids work best for company-car users whose costs are determined largely by CO2 emissions rather than list price, the X3 xDrive30e manages to appeal to private buyers too – there's not much in price between it and the diesel-powered X3 xDrive30. This means there are genuine savings to be made – especially if you use your SUV for shorter trips or the school run. And it remains a no-brainer for company-car user-choosers.
A claimed 29 miles is possible exclusively under electric power with a full battery – meaning you won't use a drop of fuel on most shorter trips if you develop good charging habits. Naturally, the electric motor can be used in conjunction with the petrol engine on longer trips, but once the battery runs out, economy drops significantly.
The good news is that the X3 lives up to BMW's reputation for building great-to-drive cars; it's a bit heavy and the petrol engine can drone when it kicks in, but performance is strong and there's plenty of grip. It's not exactly sporty, but it feels planted and safe.
Inside, the well-appointed cabin is among the best in this class, built solidly, sensibly laid-out and spacious. The addition of batteries means there's less space in the boot, however.
All told, the plug-in hybrid X3 is a tantalising alternative to its oil-burning sibling, and indeed its rivals from Mercedes, Volvo and Audi. Read on to find out more about the X3 xDrive30e in the rest of our in-depth review.