Should you care about the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) BMW X3? After all, as of next year, BMW will offer an all-electric X3 for sale. Called the iX3, its battery will allow it to travel up to 285 miles on a charge, which might just be all the range you really need. So is there really a place for this plug-in version?
Well, maybe. After all, it’s here now – you’ll have to wait until summer next year if you want the electric alternative. And when you consider most of these plug-in hybrids are chosen by company car drivers, that might just be enough. After all, if your current car’s due to go back imminently, waiting until next year won’t be an option.
Even if you’re a private buyer, though, the X3 xDrive30e – to give it its rather mealy full title – holds an appeal. For one thing, it’ll cost you around £10,000 less than the iX3 to buy.
What’s more, you can still drive for short distances on electric power, but you also get a petrol engine to take the strain on longer journeys – not to mention to act as a back-up option, something that might appeal if the electric charging network in your area still isn’t quite as hot as you might like it to be.
Pros: Good balance between handling and comfort, spacious interior, smooth and powerful engine.
Cons: Slightly plasticky interior, small boot that's and odd shape, too much wind and road noise.
Under the skin
The petrol engine in the X3 is BMW’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, and together with the 108bhp electric motor, it’s good for a combined maximum of 288bhp by a 108bhp electric motor, and that’s fed by a 12kWh battery, which is about par for the course among modern plug-in hybrids.
You’ll be able to charge that battery to 80 per cent of its capacity in a little under three hours on a standard three-pin plug – less if you’ve got a charging point installed. And a full battery will give you as much as 34 miles’ range, though of course, that’ll drop in cooler weather.