BMW X3 xDrive30e: An electrifying experienceFriday, March 12, 2021
The 2021 BMW xDrive30e is a look at the company's past, present and future in one package. The past is represented by BMW's long-standing ability to create cars endowed with a dynamic athleticism. Presently, that heritage is applied to the current demands of the automotive market, the sport utility vehicle (SUV). The future comes from the last letter at the end of the X3's badge, earmarking it as a Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV).
Externally, there's nothing signalling that the X3 xDrive30e is just another SUV. It bears the very same styling of its non-PHEV brothers. The now familiar handsome lines that define the vehicle as part of BMW's X range of SUVs are all there. The X3 doesn't shout about its ability to run on electricity. In this case, that's the point. This understated nature increases the appeal, not scaring away traditionalist who just want a premium SUV, and who aren't willing to commit to a fully electric future yet, or are not in the position to do so. All the neighbours will see is a premium SUV in the garage.
Those premium features meet the owner from the very start with puddle lamps and lit door handles to guide entrance during the night. The interior is as expected from the X3, the bold design language of a BMW dashboard with soft-touch materials, and high-quality accents all over a spacious cabin. The driver's seat is powered, like many of the other amenities, and comfortable over long distances. There are plenty of storage solutions for the busy modern lifestyle.
The cabin refinement is highlighted in the electric driving modes as the low intrusion of exterior noise helps one to enjoy the excellent BMW iDrive infotainment system, with its host of connectivity options, great sound quality, and snappy operating speed. At night the ambient lighting creates a relaxing driving atmosphere. Niceties such as BMW's Parking Assist, which will self-park the vehicle, and a kick to open trunk, confirm that premium feel of the X3.
What has always set BMWs apart is their driving dynamics. And even with an eye to the future that hasn't changed. The addition of electrification accentuates both sides of the X3. As a comfortable cruiser it can move along quietly and efficiently, automatically choosing which of the motors to operate. On a full charge there's 17 miles of all electric range at speeds of up to 140km/h, the vehicle charging itself through a variety of regenerative strategies, braking, coasting, or even engaging the petrol engine. The eDrive motor delivers 107bhp and 77lb/ft of torque. That last number may not sound like a lot; however ,torque is available from as low as 100rpm giving the X3 more than enough low-end grunt.
On the other side of the coin, the X3 ramps up its sporty nature when both motors are in use. The two-litre TwinPower turbocharged inline four-cylinder delivers 288bhp and 258lb/ft by itself. When in use with the eDrive motor the X3 can hit 100km/h in 5.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 130mph, more than enough for a SUV. Power is fed through a quick reacting 8-speed automatic transmission and all four wheels via BMW's xDrive system.
The chassis is firm, but complaint, never upsetting the vehicle or its occupants over less than perfect roads. On the highway the X3 is your typical rock solid Germanic cruiser. When things get twisty there's the confidence of the xDrive grip, sharp handling and braking. The icing on the cake is the fact that the faster you drive, the quicker the X3 charges. For those on the more conservative side, there's a charging port for external connection to a fast charger.
For those who think PHEV ownership is boring, the 2021 BMW X3 xDrive30e says otherwise. It's a practical, efficient, comfortable SUV that's fun to drive. For those able to take advantage of the electric only range, it's a bargain. For those with a heavier right foot the electrical element only increases the sportiness of the X3.
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