BMW X3 xDrive30e M

Sport

BMW X3 xDrive30e, 2020, front
BMW X3 xDrive30e, 2020, side
BMW X3 xDrive30e, 2020, rear
BMW X3, interior

AFTER driving a petrol or diesel car it can be confusing getting your head around making the switch to an electric or hybrid model.

Which to choose? Which will suit you best?

At one end of the spectrum you have all-electric vehicles with a range monitor so you know when you need to re-charge, and at the other end completely self-contained hybrids where the engine charges the battery and there's no need to plug in at all.

Between the two are plug-in hybrids which normally have a pure electric range of between 30 and 40 miles before you are totally reliant on the engine, until you can recharge the battery again.

But with BMW's X3 xdrive30e plug in hybrid I enjoyed several days of motoring without having to plug in at all.

The secret is an operating system which gives you the choice of driving on pure electric, a combination of electric and petrol - which is the idea - or a clever option which allows you to maintain a permanent minimum battery charge level.

By opting to keep the battery at 60 per cent - charged by the engine - I was able to have the best of all worlds and always be sure there was charge in the battery for when I wanted to run on electric only.

Get over 60 per cent and the car reverts to the normal petrol/electric combination.

Of course the idea with this car is that you do plug it in and it comes with all the necessary cables but if that's not possible you can still get the best out of it.

The X3 xDrive30e is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. It boasts an eight-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel-drive.

And with a total of 292bhp on tap it offers lively performance combined with a virtually silent cabin except when under very hard acceleration..

Even when it's running on the engine alone it's barely audible from the driver's seat. So even by BMW standards this model is quiet.

The interior is impressively refined with high quality leather seating, a multiplicity of ambient lighting colours to select from and a host of creature comforts.

The car driven here had BMW's technology package (£1,900) which included a head-up display and Harman Kardon surround sound system; a £1,930 premium package which included a panoramic glass sunroof and electric front seats with memory as well as a £890 comfort package which included a heated steering wheel.

As with all the X3 models there's an 8.8-inch centre set information screen to access most of the onboard features but in front of the driver the traditional rev counter is replaced by information on the state of play of the electric motor/battery.

,As with most SUVs the X3 has a high stance so you have good all round visibility, although its height does mean an element of roll on bends and fast corners but the leach-like grip of this four-wheel-drive car ensures everything is kept nicely under control.

The gear change is impressively seamless adding to the overall top notch ride quality but there are also paddles behind the steering wheel to let you change gear manually to liven things up.

And with that in mind the X3 xDrive30e offers a choice of driving modes including Sport. Sport Plus, Comfort and Eco. Switch to either of the sport settings and the hybrid system dials morph back into a traditional rev counter,

The high roofline means there's plenty of headroom even for the tallest of passengers and rear seat travellers enjoy very generous leg room.

And despite being a 4x4 hybrid the boot is more than adequate with 450 litres of space available, although that's 100 litres less than in a traditional petrol or diesel version of this car.

The BMW X3 xDrive30e M Sport is not a cheap car - the model driven here with extras was just under £57,000 - but you do get a lot for your money.

FAST FACTS

BMW X3 xDrive30e M Sport

Price: £49,310

Mechanical: 292bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol/electric plug-in hybrid driving all wheels via eight speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 130 mph

0-62mph: 6.1 secs

Combined MPG: 128

Insurance Group: 39

C02 emissions: 49 g/km

Bik rating: 14%

Warranty: 3 yrs/100,000 miles

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