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BMW X3 2022 review: xDrive30e Plug-in Hybrid

BMW's X3 is an SUV of many flavours. Is the PHEV version one of its best? (Image: Tom White)
  • DrivetrainPlug-in hybrid
  • Battery Capacity12kWh
  • Battery typeLithium-ion
  • Electric range41km (WLTP)
  • Plug TypeType 2
  • AC charge rate3.7kW
  • Electric motor output80kW/265Nm
  • Combustion engine output135kW/300Nm
  • Combined output215kW/420Nm
  • Petrol efficiency3.2L/100km
  • Electric efficiency16.4kWh/100km
Complete Guide to BMW X Models

BMW was once a brand most known for its range of sporty sedans and coupes. In the last 15 years, though, things have literally changed the face of the Bavarian juggernaut.

If its X3 SUV range is anything to go by, things are set to change a lot more before the brand has settled into its new comfort zone of electrified SUVs.

You see, unlike most of its rivals, the X3 is now offered in petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid, and as the fully-electric iX3. This allows BMW to hedge its bets over various drivetrains, but it’s also one of the first automakers to have such a comprehensive offering for a single model.

For this review we’re looking at the xDrive30e plug-in hybrid model to find out if BMW’s PHEV offering has what it takes to win some premium dollars from the likes of Volvo, Mercedes, and Lexus, all of which have added hybrid rivals with plugs in this space in recent years.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

This plug-in version of the X3 sits near the top of the X3 range, eclipsed only by the M40i performance variant and the fully-electric iX3. This means a starting price of $104,900, which initially doesn’t bode too well for the BMW given its rivals can be had at a lower price.

The similarly-specified Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e starts from $95,700, the Volvo XC60 Recharge starts from $97,990, and the impressively-specified newcomer on the block, the Lexus NX450h+ is the best value of the lot at just $89,900.

You’ll note all of those plug-in models are of the higher specification in their respective ranges, with each manufacturer clearly trying to draw buyers into this tough-to-understand tech by compensating the curious with gear which would otherwise be optional on a pure combustion car.

20-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Tom White) 20-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Tom White)

There are technical elements which play into the value of each when it comes to the PHEV drivetrain which we’ll look at later in this review (it’s particularly important when it comes to how you use and park your car) but we can at least say the X3 xDrive30e comes with a healthy amount of equipment.

Most of this matches the xDrive 30d below it, including large 20-inch alloy wheels, a set of M sport trims, brakes, and adaptive suspension, 'Vernasca’ leather interior trim, adaptive LED headlights and LED tail-lights, ambient interior lighting, a 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and built-in navigation, a second 12.3-inch screen for the ‘Live Cockpit’ digital instrument cluster, tri-zone climate control, a head-up display, electrical adjust for the driver and front passenger seats, a 12-speaker sound system, and the functionality for over-the-air updates.

Adaptive LED headlights. (Image: Tom White) Adaptive LED headlights. (Image: Tom White)

The specific inclusions for the xDrive30e include free optional paint colours, a panoramic sunroof, lumbar support in the driver’s seat, front seat heating, wall socket to Type 2 and Type 2 to Type 2 public charging cables, and specific i-branded interior elements.

Normally the sunroof and premium paint are part of a $5400 option pack, while the heated seats, steering wheel, and lumbar support seats are normally a $1200 option, meaning the PHEV variant only leaves you $3400 and a set of ‘Laserlight’ LED headlights worse-off than if you were to apply the same options to the xDrive30d.

Not bad considering it also packs a 12kWh Lithium battery under the boot floor, and a secondary electric motor integrated into its transmission. More on this later.

A 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and built-in navigation. (Image: Tom White) A 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and built-in navigation. (Image: Tom White)

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The X3 is iconic BMW, having come to be the face of the brand for many buyers, the mid-size SUV exemplifies the Bavarian marque’s ‘kidney grille’, sharp and tall lines, and strongly defined body.

It’s part dainty luxury car and part buff Germanic tourer in equal measure. Suffice it to say fans of the brand will love it, but it’s not going to make converts of anyone else.

Newer design elements which adorn the X3’s body include the striking tail-light design, and little plastic fills below which combine with its contrast bumper and dual-exhaust ports to make for a sporty looking SUV.

The wheels look enormous and add enough chrome to the picture to keep it looking sleek, while subtle badgework has always been a hallmark of a good BMW.

BMWs have always had a relatively minimalist take on the interior design, and overall this is a space in which progress has been made at a glacial pace throughout the brand’s history, wild 7 Series limos being the exception to the rule.

This means the X3 gets the iconic centre-panel, ever so slightly oriented to the driver which houses the two centre air vents and climate control buttons, and a small panel below which houses the volume knob and shortcuts for the radio.

Newer design elements which adorn the X3’s body include the striking tail-light design. (Image: Tom White) Newer design elements which adorn the X3’s body include the striking tail-light design. (Image: Tom White)

The digital revolution has very much come to the interior of this SUV though, as the top of the dash is adorned with a single enormous panel, and a second one set in the instrument binnacle in a classic fashion. It will all be quite familiar, even if you’ve skipped a BMW generation or two.

The wheel is a key touchpoint, clad in a lovely soft padded leather but with a chunky three-spoke design and massive notches at 10 and two for you to rest your hands on.

I don’t like this wheel in the brand’s more dainty sports cars like the Z4 where it feels too big, but it definitely feels at home in the X3.

Quality materials with plenty of soft-touch plastics and leather trims extend their way into the door, while the software is appealing in its design and fast to respond; clearly backed by strong hardware.

A final thing worth noting is the X3 has one of the more dated interiors in the BMW range. While it has been augmented with digital upgrades over the years, it doesn’t feel as contemporary as the incoming range of cars with the next-gen design elements. Take a look at the iX’s spectacular interior for what you’re missing out on.

How practical is the space inside?

The X3 is reasonably large on the inside, with a commanding road view and healthy space for an adult in both front seats. The tall roofline leaves plenty of room for someone my 182cm height, while leather-clad soft-touch finishes are present for your elbows and knees.

There’s a large bottle holder and thin bin in each of the front doors, and a wide centre console with a further two bottle holders with adjustable ridges and a large storage bay suitable for a phone below the climate cluster.

This area also houses a USB port and a little shaped notch for you to place the key, and the whole area can be covered over with a retracting lid.

The X3 is reasonably large on the inside, with a commanding road view and healthy space for an adult in both front seats. (Image: Tom White) The X3 is reasonably large on the inside, with a commanding road view and healthy space for an adult in both front seats. (Image: Tom White)

Like all BMWs there are well hidden shortcut buttons for many of the functions which integrate into the design, and there’s a multimedia screen function for most functions, too, controlled through the centre dial system, or via touch.

It’s nice to have both, unlike some Mazdas which use a similar control system, but force you to rely on the dial.

The second row looks a bit flat from a distance, but you do sink into the leather-clad seats nicely, and unlike some rivals in this category, the second row is fixed and not on rails.

Room for a 182cm tall adult is decent, with a little more than adequate knee room and excellent headroom.

Rear passengers get their own climate zone with an independent control panel as well as a 12V outlet and two USB-C ports. (Image: Tom White) Rear passengers get their own climate zone with an independent control panel as well as a 12V outlet and two USB-C ports. (Image: Tom White)

The leather trims continue, and true to the sense of being a premium brand the intruding piece of wheelarch is also clad in padded leather. No touching plastic in here.

A single bottle holder appears in each of the rear doors, with a further two in the drop-down armrest, and there’s a netted pocket on the back of each of the front seats.

Rear passengers get their own climate zone with an independent control panel as well as a 12V outlet and two USB-C ports.

  • Luggage capacity in the boot is rated at 450-litres. (Image: Tom White) Luggage capacity in the boot is rated at 450-litres. (Image: Tom White)
  • 2022 BMW I3 xDrive30e I Boot 2022 BMW I3 xDrive30e I Boot

Luggage capacity in the boot is rated at 450-litres (VDA), significantly down on the combustion versions of this car. Note in the pictures the stepped boot floor, which is adorned with a chrome trim piece for some reason, as though the car is always reminding you of the lost room.

Still, the squared-off space managed to fit our three-piece CarsGuide luggage set with relative ease and room to spare. There is a thin and narrow slot under the boot floor which serves as a location to place your charging cables.

What are the key stats for the drivetrain?

The PHEV version of the X3 pairs the brand’s usual 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with a relatively powerful electric motor integrated into its eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

On its own, the engine produces 135kW/300Nm, while the electric motor is capable of punching out 80kW/265Nm. When working together, the EV components can provide a further electrified boost, for a total of 215kW/420Nm, allowing for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.1 seconds. This makes the 30e only slower than the M40i and 30d variants in the rest of the X3 range.

The PHEV version of the X3 pairs the brand’s usual 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with a relatively powerful electric motor integrated into its eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission. (Image: Tom White) The PHEV version of the X3 pairs the brand’s usual 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with a relatively powerful electric motor integrated into its eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission. (Image: Tom White)

The xDrive30e is capable of travelling up to 135km/h under electric power alone, with a surprisingly small 12kWh battery delivering around 41km of pure EV range.

As the electric motor is mounted in the transmission it is capable of driving all four wheels via the brand’s 'xDrive' system with torque vectoring.

Somewhat amusingly, the German documentation for the X3 includes a section for “off road characteristics” (I suppose it is an SUV after all…) and for those interested the xDrive30e can ford at up to 500mm depth, has an approach angle of 25.6 degrees, a departure angle of 22.8 degrees, a breakover angle of 20.0 degrees and a ground clearance of 204mm. Enjoy the trails.

How much does it consume? What’s the range like, and what it’s like to recharge/refuel?

Here’s the tricky bit. The X3 xDrive30e has an official combined fuel consumption of just 3.2L/100km, but this will depend heavily on how you drive it.

You see, the BMW hybrid system is very keen to drive under electric power alone, even in the so-called ‘hybrid’ driving mode. This will mean you will extinguish the battery’s 41km driving range (or 35km according to our test vehicle on a full charge) quite quickly, whether you like it or not.

Plus, the charging capability is a bit slow. At 3.7kW, the PHEV X3 charges its 12kWh battery up in 2.6 hours on a faster public outlet or garage wall box, or around five hours on a wall socket.

To put it in perspective, the Lexus NX 450h+ showed me nearly double the amount of electric driving range on a single charge (65km as-tested) and was capable of charging up at a rate of 7.2kW, meaning a two hour flat charge for twice the range on a public outlet.

At 3.7kW, the PHEV X3 charges its 12kWh battery up in 2.6 hours on a faster public outlet or garage wall box, or around five hours on a wall socket. (Image: Tom White) At 3.7kW, the PHEV X3 charges its 12kWh battery up in 2.6 hours on a faster public outlet or garage wall box, or around five hours on a wall socket. (Image: Tom White)

The summary boils down to: If you charge up at home, this won’t be as much of a problem, if you need to rely on public charging, it could make a difference to the PHEV you pick.

You can prolong the life of the battery using the ‘battery level’ mode which lets you set a target for battery life and have the car switch to primarily combustion at that point.

This can come in handy if you have a lot of open-road driving, and want to conserve the battery for driving around town where it is most efficient.

On my week with the car I saw an impressive consumption figure of 2.2L/100km according to the trip computer, under the official number, while my energy consumption came in at 20.7kWh/100km against a claim of 16.4kWh/100km. I did make sure to charge the car up at every opportunity, however.

Like all BMWs the X3 xDrive30e requires mid-shelf 95RON unleaded fuel, and has a 50L fuel tank despite the addition of its high-voltage battery.

What's it like to drive?

One of the things I came to love most about this version of the X3 is how seamless the hybrid system is, and how unusually quiet and comfortable this car proved to be.

Sure, it’s a luxury mid-size SUV, but I came away particularly impressed with how the adaptive suspension tune pairs so nicely with the electrified acceleration to make for a sleek driving experience.

Despite its dimensions, the xDrive30e feels light and springy over bumps, filtering out the worst of the road while keeping a good level of control at the wheels.

The stock steering tune in the car’s standard ‘hybrid’ driving mode is nice and light, too, making this mid-sizer feel smaller than it really is to pilot, and you don’t feel the extra weight of the battery pack at all.

The combustion engine is so quiet it is at times difficult to tell when it enters the mix, aside from the fuel consumption meter on the dash suddenly coming to life.

It too is a smooth unit, providing partially electrically-assisted acceleration in most modes which makes it hard to tell when the transmission changes cogs. It’s as though you get the best of both worlds this way.

Adaptive suspension tune pairs so nicely with the electrified acceleration to make for a sleek driving experience. (Image: Tom White) Adaptive suspension tune pairs so nicely with the electrified acceleration to make for a sleek driving experience. (Image: Tom White)

The car is a bit too keen to rely on its electric driving, and, as mentioned earlier, this will mean it drains its battery relatively quickly unless you take extreme measures like the battery saver mode.

The result is a car which is far better suited to shorter city-based journeys than long tours through the country. At least the turbocharged engine and BMW driving dynamics are left intact should your battery run dry.

The regen braking is mild (able to recoup a max of 20kW at any given moment), although the indicators on the dash are neat for letting you know the limit of your electric acceleration and how far you’ve travelled without using the combustion engine.

On my week with the car I managed over half the distance with the engine completely off. Think of the fuel savings.

Elsewhere the X3 offers great visibility thanks to a boxy shape with big windows, and solid electric acceleration, with decent handling, too. I’d say it feels sportier than the Lexus NX or Merc GLC equivalents, with the ride a bit more forgiving than that of the Volvo XC60 Recharge.

As an EV then the xDrive30e is notably limited, but as an SUV which threads the needle of being both engaging and comfortable, it’s possibly the best of the current premium mid-size SUV PHEV pack.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The X3 range has a healthy list of standard active safety equipment, with items like freeway-speed auto emergency braking, rear auto emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.

It also has a speed limit assist function and a rather cool parking suite which gives you a 3D surround picture of the car capable of adjusting to particular angles when objects get close.

The X3 range has a healthy list of standard active safety equipment. (Image: Tom White) The X3 range has a healthy list of standard active safety equipment. (Image: Tom White)

The X3 has the standard array of dual front, dual side, and dual head curtain airbags, as well as seatbelt pre-tensioners. There are dual ISOFIX points on the outboard rear seats, or three top-tether mounts across the rear row.

The base X3 offerings have a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating to the 2017 standard, although this plug-in hybrid variant was not available at the time.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

BMW languishes with just three-years of warranty coverage. The brand along with its Mini subsidiary has become a notable laggard in the space now, its last remaining Audi rival has moved on to match the five-year and unlimited kilometre promise of its VW parent.

Servicing on BMW models is ‘condition dependent’ meaning the car’s computer will keep track of when servicing needs to happen based on how the car is driven and other factors.

A five-year ‘basic’ service pack is available inside the first 12 months of purchase and covers visits inside this period or 80,000km whichever occurs first. It costs $2010, or $402 a year.

  • DrivetrainPlug-in hybrid
  • Battery Capacity12kWh
  • Battery typeLithium-ion
  • Electric range41km (WLTP)
  • Plug TypeType 2
  • AC charge rate3.7kW
  • Electric motor output80kW/265Nm
  • Combustion engine output135kW/300Nm
  • Combined output215kW/420Nm
  • Petrol efficiency3.2L/100km
  • Electric efficiency16.4kWh/100km
Complete Guide to BMW X Models

The X3 xDrive30e is a sporty SUV with fantastic ride quality and slick driving characteristics, although its specs seem a bit behind on the electrified front despite it being the most expensive PHEV of its peers.

This leaves it with an odd split personality of being particularly limited to tight city driving to make the most of its EV features, while its engaging nature beckons more to the open road than some of its rivals. A jack of two worlds perhaps, but a master of neither.

$104,900

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Score

4/5
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.