New inevitable step in the hunt for grams at BMW, a little electricity is invited under the hood of the X3. The Bavarian SUV recently offered a plug-in hybrid engine, allowing a range of 50 km in electric and interesting figures at the pump. So much for the theory. In practice, we especially hope that the hybridization did not do too much harm to the qualities of the X3.

The X3 thus adds to an already rich offer of PHEV hybrids at BMW. Almost all models are entitled to it, or almost. The only thing missing for the moment is the compact 1 Series, which will not be long since Mercedes and Audi have already drawn their plug-in versions of the Class A and A3. Hybridization is therefore not just a mere fantasy of an image, and really stems from a real policy of generalization. Funny paradox, where a few grams of CO2 captured translates into hundreds of extra pounds on the scale. Another debate, which in no way detracts from the interest that the hybrid presents for the driver who uses it appropriately.

Those who plan to cut down long miles of highway without refueling, or balk at plugging in their car for their daily commute … can stop reading these lines right now and should be interested in a good old X3 20d. Diesel will remain, whether we like it or not, the best ally of heavy-duty drivers. More sober (therefore cleaner, Mr. Lavoisier explained it almost 300 years ago), in the context of long-term use.

The plug-in hybrid, we can’t repeat it enough, only makes sense if you make a maximum of all-electric trips. Otherwise, expeditious and erroneous trials are easy on the part of our colleagues in the general press. Besides, let’s agree: a hybrid does not consume 10 times more (therefore does not pollute 10 times more) than advertised, if we know how to use it. As a reminder, these incriminating figures are measured in thermal mode, forced battery charging, and do not correspond to the use of a PHEV hybrid. As inept as to reproach an electric for its autonomy on Autobahn at 200 km / h, which will necessarily be much lower than the figures announced. In short, Notice to plug-in hybrid candidates: take your cable out of the trunk, and charge shamelessly!

BMW X3 xDrive 30e PHEV (2021) plug-in hybrid test

The X3 PHEV can evolve up to 135 km / h in all electric. But at this train, we forget the 50 km of autonomy promised. Allow around 40 km for a mixed route, with a light foot.

Good to know: anticipate the purchase and resale.

It is possible to know the resale or trade-in value of your vehicle thanks to the auto Turbo rating of your BMW X3, the alternative to the Argus rating.

Gentle chronos

The X3 xDrive 30e is the technical twin of the 330e sedan. He therefore benefits from a mechanics known and recognized for its convenience and efficiency. In this case, a 4-cylinder 2-liter turbo (184 hp) associated with an electric motor of 109 hp coupled to the gearbox. The whole develops 292 hp and a maximum torque of 420 Nm. Energetic and muffled at will, we retain the muscular revivals and careful insulation. The smooth running is remarkable, in hybrid mode, and the lap times in good shape despite the insolent weight: 2.065 kg empty, including 120 kg for the 12 kWh battery, but only 6.1 s to go from 0 to 100 km / h. Without brutality, the thermal / electric combination favors an appreciable fluidity.

The observation also applies to the behavior, rigorous and comfortably filtered, despite the relative firmness of the suspension. Predictable, with such a mass to compensate. Unless you are jostled, the weight is rather well erased and cash movements are contained. On the other hand, the tires and the brakes will serve as fuses. Serious budget to plan for consumables …

Pilot-operated suspension is not available on the hybrid, but would be superfluous anyway taking into account the beautiful homogeneity of the classic chassis. Be careful, however, of the large 20-inch rims on the M Sport versions, which tend to hammer at low speed.

BMW X3 xDrive 30e PHEV (2021) plug-in hybrid test

We found a little less than 7 l / 100 km average, empty battery, using it as a conventional hybrid. Interesting, but the tank reduced to 50 l hinders the total autonomy.

Energy management

A varied course of around 400 km, carried out well in hybrid and empty battery, resulted in an average of around 7 l / 100 km. Interesting, in itself, for an SUV of this size offering this level of performance. It is obviously possible to drastically reduce this figure, by operating on the only batteries. The Max eDrive button, located with the driving modes next to the gearbox control, allows you to force all-electric operation.

Fatally, the much greater mass and the less favorable Cx of the X3 do not allow it to claim the same autonomy as the 3 Series equipped with the same engine and the same battery. Announced at 50 km (in WLTP), its range of action on a charge turns more around 40 km in practice. As long as you keep your feet light and avoid fast lanes, as always in electric. Perfectly however sufficient for most daily journeys, in urban and peri-urban use. A full charge cycle on an AC outlet, a solution used by the majority of PHEV owners, takes approximately 6 hours. On the wallbox, the X3 tolerates up to 3.7 kW, making it possible to regain 100% autonomy in around 3:40.

BMW X3 xDrive 30e PHEV (2021) plug-in hybrid test

The charging socket on the left front of the X3 is the only hallmark of the PHEV. The goal was to make the hybridization as transparent as possible, it’s almost successful.

On board: welcome preserved, but liters less

The transplant of the batteries under the seat of the rear seat and the floor of the boot no impact on the space on board or the layout of the passenger compartment. The rear passengers have plenty of room, the backrest tilts, and the driving position retains the same presentation as any conventional X3. Neat and made of premium materials, reasonably modern without giving in to the all-digital avalanche that reigns in recent times.

The only concrete effect of hybridization concerns the trunk, penalized by the batteries and peripherals linked to the system. The double bottom disappears, and the floor is raised by a step of ten centimeters housing the storage of charging cables. The total volume loses 100 liters (450 l now). At least the contours are straight and the folded seat always leaves a flat surface.

BMW X3 xDrive 30e PHEV (2021) plug-in hybrid test

Still the same neat interior, particularly plush in our top-of-the-range Luxury version … at almost € 70,000! Saving at the pump is not an argument.

Tariffs: always the obstacle

Just like its direct rivals the Mercedes GLC 300e or Volvo XC60 T8, the X3 hybrid is not within the reach of all budgets. And even if it is exempt from penalties, its beefy prices prevent it from claiming the € 2,000 bonus from which PHEV hybrids under € 50,000 benefit. At least, the X3 xDrive 30e invoices its beautiful road services and its interesting sobriety 59,600 €. The economy argument does not hold, therefore.

BMW X3 xDrive 30e PHEV (2021) plug-in hybrid test

The trunk loses 100 l of volume, and the floor is raised by about 10 cm. Instead, there is a compartment for storing charging cables and the separation curtain.

Technical characteristics BMW X3 xDrive 30e PHEV (2021)

BMW X3 xDrive 30e Luxury technical sheet
Model tested: BMW X3 xDrive 30e Luxury
Dimensions L x W x H 4.708 / 1.891 / 1.676 m
Wheelbase 2,860 m
Minimum trunk volume 450 liters
Unloaded weight 2.065 kg
Engine displacement 4-cylinder petrol, turbo – 1,998 cm3 + electric motor
Combined power 292 hp at 5,000 rpm (184 hp thermal, 109 hp electric)
Combined torque 420 Nm at 1,350 rpm
0 to 100 km / h 6.1 s
Max speed 210 km / h
CO2 rate from 44 to 59 g / km (WLTP)
Consumption announced WLTP from 1.9 to 2.6 l / 100 km
Consumption measured empty battery 6.8 l / 100 km
Prices from € 59,600 (model tested: € 69,150)