“Lightning Charged Upgrade”
The X3 holds a very important place for the Bavarian automaker, it outsells all other models in BMW’s lineup and by a healthy margin, nearly 10,000 units. For this reason alone, to alter a formula that is so well liked by the buying public requires some serious consideration and thought. So how do change a formula that works well…you enhance it, not change it. What better way to enhance a vehicle than to give it extra power, speed, and efficiency all while being green.
With so many manufacturers moving vehicle line ups away from the venerable internal combustion engine and vowing to create only electric or electric hybrid vehicles, it was only inevitable the BMW ‘s i technology would make its way into other models. With the X3 30e, BMW has added an electric motor to the base 2.0L Turbo 4 cylinder. The electric motor is nestled in between the engine and transmission. The result is 288 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque (compared to 245 hp in the X3 xdrive 30i). It also allows the X3 PHEV to provide up to nearly 30km of pure electric driving at highway speeds. Compared to the regular 30i, a sprint 0 to 100 km’s is reached in sub six seconds and the combined hybrid system is perfectly mated, never feeling intrusive or artificial. BMW’s eight speed Steptronic transmission makes mince meat of shift changes providing lightning fast response from an automatic and is arguably the best auto transmission in the industry.
The driving dynamics are not altered for the X3 30e by the addition of the eDrive system. For the mid to compact segment, the X3 provides the most spirited drive as compared to the GLC or Q5. Whether your flavour is calm cruises from place to place or more B Road bomber, the X3 in any flavour is capable of meeting your demands. The regenerative braking does alter pedal feel to a degree, but, is manageable and acceptable. The additional torque of the line makes driving the 30e a blast and having the option to carry out your local needs i.e. groceries, school pick up and drop offs and games, in all electric mode allows for a dramatic increase in fuel efficiency. The problem is that the range is not significant. It falls short of Volvo, Audi and Mercedes at which point fuel efficiency is not that much greater than the X3 40i.
The interior of the 30e is no different except that BMW offers you a 10.2 inch infotainment screen and a 12.3 inch instrument cluster. The BMW interior is clean and uncluttered. I find the ability to control basic HVAC controls through buttons, rather than the infotainment screen a refreshing throwback. My as tested 30e came with the Vernasca leather option. In addition, it came with the Premium Enhanced package which adds a panoramic sun roof, heads up display and heated rear seats among other things. Interior room is easily best in class and is actually larger than the first generation X5. The hit, interior wise comes in the cargo space. Because the 30e’s electrification is not a ground up redesign, the placement of the battery pack eats up about 1.2 cu-ft of cargo space in the boot.
For those in the compact to mid-size luxury SUV market it doesn’t really get more compelling than the X3. It provides an ideal combination of performance, agile driving characteristics and incredible fit and finish; all in a package that can stand the test of time. With the addition of eDrive, those who care more deeply for the environment have an option. The question is, is it worth it to increase the base X3 price from $52,550 to $59,990 to bring some ease to your green conscience and up the anti to nearly $73,000 as tested to the M and premium package looks and technology.