The popularity of SUVs continues to grow at a rapid pace with the hotter segment of the market being compact Crossovers. The BMW X3 has enjoyed tremendous sales success in the past, but the Blue and White Rondelle clan obviously decided to capitalize on this growth spurt by focusing on making this BMW X3 PHEV more appealing than before with a complete redesign in 2018.
The BMW X3 first hit showrooms as a 2004 model SAV – not to be confused with an SUV, an SAV is a Sports Activity Vehicle and not simply a Sports Utility Vehicle, at least in the eyes of the BMW encampment. The new kid on the X3 block is the 2020 BMW X3 xDrive 30e a compact crossover SAV that’s manufactured in BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina plant. It is a PHEV or Plug-in Electric Hybrid Vehicle. It has four doors and a rear lift gate and seats five comfortably with room for personal gear. The 2020 BMW X3 xDrive 30e will be built alongside the BMW X4, BMW X5, and BMW X6 in the BMW plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina: the largest of the BMW Group’s production facilities, with nearly 70 percent of the vehicles produced, exported to 140 worldwide markets. The X3 actually pioneered the premium compact SAV segment.
Its distinguishing factor is its fuel economy thanks to hybrid gasoline/electric power which it shares with the 330e sedan – a 2.0-liter DOHC, 16-valve BMW Twin-Power Turbo front longitudinally mounted inline 4-cylinder engine with variable valve control (Double VANOS and Valvetronic) and high-precision Direct Injection with an electric motor integrated into the transmission and auto stop/start. A 3.7 kW Lithium Ion Traction Battery with an onboard charger, is positioned beneath the rear seat floor. Charge Time @ 110/120V is 6 Hrs, and 3.5 Hrs Charge Time @ 220/240V. Horsepower (bhp) is rated at 288 @ 3,800 rpm and Torque (ft./ lbs.) is rated at 310 in a range from 1,450-4,800 rpm. The electric motor is rated at 80 kilowatts, or 107 hp.
Motive force is directed to all four wheels through an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission with Overdrive, Sport and Manual shift modes and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, via BMW’s xDrive AWD system.
There are selectable drive modes for pure electric and economical hybrid operation. The Comfort mode is ideal for just tooling around town; Sport provides added punch; activate Sport Plus and this SAV really gets with the program, combining the attributes of both the gasoline and electric powertrains for optimum boost.
The EPA rates the X3 xDrive30e’s fuel economy at 60 MPGe 60 MPGe –or 22-mpg city / 29-mpg highway. This PHEV SAV is not just about efficiency though, with its 0.29 Drag Coefficient, it is capable of clicking off 0-60 mph in a mere 6.0 seconds and reaching a top speed of 130 mph (electronically limited).
Visually, the exterior of the 2020 BMW X3 xDrive raises the bar for boldly athletic designs, displaying a muscular “three-dimensional” twin kidney grille and hexagonally shaped fog lights that enhance the presence of the front fascia, expressing a confident and stately manner. Shifting aft, a strong visual impact is showcased by the tail light housings that repeat the Three-dimensional look of the front, with the optional Adaptive Full LED headlights. The roof top spoiler slopes downward, which along with the twin exhaust tailpipes enhance the X3’s athletic persona.
The cabin provides roomy and comfortable seating for five (provided that you’re not the middle rear seat occupant) featuring Sport seats with power adjustable side bolsters as standard fare along with an Anthracite headliner. Fit and finish are what one would expect from a luxury Sport Activity vehicle.
In-car technology is managed by BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, housed in a 10.2-inch center screen, which is operational by touch, voice or the center console controller. Wireless Apple CarPlay is available, but Android Auto is yet to come.
The iDrive is not particularly easy to live with due to its structure of submenus, but there are eight programmable buttons for favorite functions that minimize some of the difficulty of clicking through those menus.. iDrive features apps for weather, news and even ParkMobile to pay for metered parking online, and the navigation system can search for locations by keyword, telling how to locate favorites.
Various hybrid drive options may be accessed via the the center console eDrive button. Max eDrive reduces speed and power delivery, for the most efficient use of electricity. Max eDrive may be configured be the default setting when battery power is sufficient. The eDrive button also allows controlling battery options, allowing maintaining a set state of charge.
Auto eDrive combines engine and battery use on its own, and is able to use GPS data from an active navigation program to alter the powertrain’s characteristics based on the upcoming route. For instance, it can use the battery for an uphill run if a long enough downhill stretch is detected to recapture some of the energy.
My test 2020 BMW X3 xDrive 30e sported a Dark Graphite metallic exterior finish complemented by Cognac Vernasca leather seating with contrasting stitching and Fineline Cove matte finish wood trim elements. The base price was set at $48,550., which rose to $65,020 after adding the optional fare which included: the Driving Assistance and Driving Assistance Plus packages; Dynamic Handling Package, the Executive Package along with the destination and handling charge.
BMW has a reputation for delivering outstanding driver-oriented vehicles with little regard for mileage bragging rights, and the X3 PHEV is certainly no exception. An advantage to this PHEV is having the electric motor ready on command to provide extra boost to the gasoline engine. This boost helps to eliminate any turbo lag. Torque from the electric motors provide instant torque.
Prod the X3 PHEV’s accelerator and take off. The computer-controlled eight-speed automatic shifts automatically, but, there are steering wheel mounted for making manual gear changes. An added PHEV plus is the fact that it may be driven exclusively on electric power with an approximate electric range of 20 miles in combined city-highway driving. Regenerative decelerating and braking, actions of the of the system aids in charging the battery pack.
The X3 PHEV is smooth and silent on open roads, switching over automatically to hybrid operation when the battery pack’s energy is depleted.
Challenging ‘twisties’ are conquered easily, with the battery pack and fuel tank positioned low under the back seat and over the rear axle, the X3 30e delivers excellent stability and balance. Settle into the firm, supportive seats, with plenty of bolstering, and go for the gusto rivaling some sports sedans. The braking feel could be better, by way of being more positive.
The 2020 BMW X3 xDrive 30e comes with several available driver-assistance features, but most are at extra cost, and while it may not be as powerful as many competitions, it is still adequate at getting the job at hand done. it is certainly capable of matching or surpassing them when it comes to efficiency and fun-to-drive persona. If you like the standard X3, the PHEV version gives up very little in terms of compromises. Bottom line, it is a Luxurious Performance Oriented PHEV SAV.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2020 BMW X3 xDrive 30e
Base Price: $48,550.
Price as Tested: $65,020.
Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter DOHC, 16-valve BMW Twin-Power Turbo inline 4-cylinder with variable valve control (Double VANOS and Valvetronic) and high-precision Direct Injection with an electric motor integrated into the transmission and auto stop/start. Lithium Ion Traction Battery w/3.7 kW Onboard Charger, 6 Hrs Charge Time @ 110/120V and 3.5 Hrs Charge Time @ 220/240V.
Horsepower (bhp): 288 @ 3,800 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 310 @ 1,450-4,800 rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed Steptronic Automatic with Overdrive, Sport and Manual shift modes and steering wheel mounted Paddle shifters.
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / xDrive AWD system.
Suspension: Front – Aluminum strut axle, with coil springs, gas – pressurized Shock Absorbers and anti-roll bar.
Rear – Multi-link axle with coil springs, shock absorbers and anti-roll bar.
Brakes: Power-assisted Regenerative four-wheel vented discs with ABS, DSC, CBC, DBC, Dry Braking Function, Fading compensation, Start-Off Assistant, DCS reworked with xDrive AWD system, Hill Descent Control, Hill Hold Control, Performance Control and Dynamic Damper Control.
Tires: Michelin Latitude Sport 3 all-season 275/40 R20 mounted on 5-“V”-spoke machine face alloy wheels with Graphite metallic painted inners.
Wheelbase: 112.8 inches
Length Overall: 185.9 inches
Width: 74.4 inches – without mirrors
Height: 66.0 inches
Curb Weight: 4,586 lbs.
Turning Circle: 39.7 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 13.2 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 60 MPGe – 22-mpg city / 29-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.29
0 – 60 mph: 6.0 seconds – Top Speed =130 mph
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