2022 BMW X3 xDrive 30e Australia review

7.0

Security, value and features

Things we love

  • Good electric/hybrid relay
  • Fuel and battery efficiency
  • Manufacturing quality

Not really

  • High price
  • Compromised cargo area
  • Brakes underserved
  • Paranoid Park Assist

OExcept for a milk float that my brother and I accidentally hijacked when I was about eight years old, BMW’s i3 was the first production electric vehicle I’ve driven and, at the time, I realized that electric vehicles themselves were not the problem. The sophisticated five-door from the German automaker proved that the vehicle was no longer the missing part of the equation and, while there were still many components to add before the battery power reached the point of tipping, I could live with BMW’s foray.

The truth was and still is, however, that while the range, choice and supporting infrastructure of electric vehicles have advanced over the ensuing eight years, an exclusively battery-powered vehicle is not quite doable as the only car in the driveway for many. What BMW and many other brands have identified is that there is a middle ground between pure combustion power and pure battery with potential to be exploited.

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That’s where this car comes in. Unlike the i3 which could be purchased as a range-extended hybrid, the new BMW X3 xDrive 30e is a more mainstream plug-in hybrid, meaning it can be charged at home and driven around 41km using just its 12kWh battery. Afterwards, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine takes over for a more conventional driving experience.

This particular variant is therefore two X3s in one. It has essentially the same engine and transmission as the entry-level sDrive 20i, but with xDrive all-wheel drive, and a bit of the soul of the new purely electric iX3, but with a significantly reduced zero-emissions range.

This variant is two X3s in one – essentially the same engine and transmission as the sDrive 20i, all-wheel drive and a bit of the pure-electric iX3 soul.

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BMW claims that range is 41km and while some models from other manufacturers require a hypermile driving style to hit their claimed figures, that’s not the case in the X3. We covered exactly 40km before needing a recharge when driving mostly on suburban roads where there is minimal drag on the square body and the effect of regenerative braking can be maximised.

Regeneration is smooth and the hybrid powertrain seems to promote more efficient coasting rather than trying to claw back power that’s already been spent and we particularly like how the calibration only resorts to extra petrol power last appeal. Unlike some milder hybrids, most of our driving was with the engine off and that was without having to switch from the default driving mode to pure electric.

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The various riding modes are easily accessed via hard buttons rather than having to scroll through a list or dive into sub-menus. Our favorite was Sport with XtraBoost, which was aggressive enough to make the most of the well-tuned X3 chassis.

A firm ride was easy going and although the steering is a little numb, it’s nonetheless direct, while the previously dormant engine wakes up with a satisfying, determined note.

Acceleration has a good sense of urgency even in pure electric mode, while the full combined effect of petrol and electric running in unison is strong and linear. Its total output of 215kW and 420Nm is the most available of a combustion X3 without straying into the coveted M Power family and is good for a dash of zero to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds. .

The eight-speed automatic transmission also deserves praise with deft calibration that works beautifully with the evolution of electric and hybrid power.

2022 BMW X 3 X Drive 30 E Phytonic Blue Australia Engine Bay S Rawlings Wheels Test

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When it comes to economy, the focus with this car was more on the functionality of the hybrid system than the overall numbers on paper, but during our short time with the X3, its engine mostly fired when the full dose of performance was required and the car was returned with an indicated total range of 560km remaining in the 50 liter tank. It’s good enough on any scale.

Perhaps related to the mild regenerative braking was a slightly odd pedal that feels under-assisted until the vehicle is almost at a standstill, at which point braking becomes more aggressive. As a result, it’s difficult to ride the 30e smoothly at low speeds and in stop-start traffic.

Acceleration has a good sense of urgency in pure electric mode, while the combined effect of petrol and electric in unison is strong and linear

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Technologically though, the 30e really stands out. Its interior is well-appointed and beautifully designed, with your eye first drawn to the impressive digital displays. There’s a huge 12.3-inch screen for the central information and entertainment systems, while the driver has an equally sharp second 10.3-inch Live Cockpit Professional display for the instrumentation.

The X3 wasn’t late enough for the next generation of BMW’s excellent iDrive operating system, but version 7 is still crisp and intuitive. Enough options and controls are available via the sub-menus, but none of the most frequently accessed functions, which are thankfully limited to buttons on the dash, center console and steering wheel.

A massive head-up display complements the digital screens with color and heaps of information options via a personalization menu, while ambient lighting enhances the cabin’s feel and sophistication after dark. Park assist was the only black mark on the comprehensive tech list with far too paranoid operation to be useful in many cases.

Rims Review 2022 BMW X 3 X Drive 30 E Australia Interior Cabin 1 S Rawlings

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Practically, the 30e has pretty much all the virtues of the ‘standard’ X3 with a decent second row for adults and a good spread of load and storage options.

The trunk is the only compromised point, with a volume down from 100 liters to 450L. The raised boot floor also allows objects to fall when opening the electric tailgate if they have moved during transport.

That aside, the X3 is a vehicle that’s been thought through from the ground up and its hybridization doesn’t feel like an afterthought thrown awkwardly into the range between petrols, diesels and EVs.

Its chassis feels like it was developed specifically for the extra 2065kg weight, the engine and transmission are well programmed for electric assist and the styling is subtle but nods to something. a little different is happening under the hood.

Oh, and the ability to leave the air conditioning running even when the car is off is another much-appreciated feature during the wilder summer months. Coming back to a cool cabin after a little shopping spree is a tip you never get tired of.

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So it might seem like the xDrive 30e is the largely uncompromising X3, but that’s not quite the case.

With any plug-in, you’re still paying for a complete engine and transmission similar if not identical to the petrol-only versions, but with the added cost of electrical parts as well, which is why the PHEV X3’s starting price of BMW is a hefty $104,900 before road charges.

As for the alternatives, the 30th almost has the scene all to itself. The only threat in the segment comes from Mercedes-Benz offering a plug-in version of its GLC with an eerily similar 300th boot badge. Go for the Merc and you’ll get a similar package but for a lower price of over $9,000.

For fans of the X3 with just one parking spot, its pure electric range is perfect for negotiating the suburbs but has the legs for the occasional jaunt.

2022 BMW X 3 X Drive 30 E Phytonic Blue Australia Dynamic Rear 1 S Rawlings rims review

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The value proposition is even harder to balance when you consider that the all-electric iX3 is “only” 10% more expensive, priced at $114,900 plus on-road costs.

Ownership costs don’t help either. The plug-in will still need oils and filters when it comes time for maintenance and dealing with rising fuel prices every time a refill is needed, while the more expensive EV version has a cheaper maintenance schedule as well as the ability to save on electricity costs by using home solar and electric walls, for example.

So who is the X3 30e for? A majority of PHEV owners of all kinds learn fairly quickly that even the relatively limited pure electric range is more than enough for their weekly commute, and that an EV with a longer range would actually suit their lifestyle.

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If you like what the X3 model has to offer but haven’t decided yet if it’s time to go electric, the 30e is an expensive way to decide, but the plug-in certainly still has its place.

For fans of the X3 with just one parking spot, including inner-city dwellers and residents of other high-density areas, its pure-electric range is perfect for negotiating the suburbs but still has the legs of petrol. for an occasional getaway.

Add to that almost exactly the same practical proposition of the X3 petrol and diesel variants, plus the xDrive benefits to take you further.

There are several compelling sides to the X3 plug-in’s personality if you’re still sitting on the fence between electric and combustion, but its versatility comes at a cost.

2022 BMW X3 xDrive 30e Specifications

Engine 1998cc 4-cyl dohc 16v turbo-petrol
Battery 12kWh
Able 215kW
Couple 420Nm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Mass 2065kg
0-100km/h 6.1s (claimed)
Fuel consumption 3.2L/100km
Power consumption 19.3kWh/100km
Price $104,900 + road costs

7.0

Safety, value and features

Things we love

  • Good electric/hybrid relay
  • Fuel and battery efficiency
  • Manufacturing quality

Not really

  • High price
  • Compromised cargo area
  • Brakes underserved
  • Paranoid Park Assist

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