Afraid of being stranded by a pure electric vehicle? Look no further than the BMW X3 xDrive30e
The car industry has been under intense pressure from all sides to clean up its act and reduce carbon emissions in an effort to save the planet. Its response has been admirable and it would be accurate to say carmakers have now reinvented themselves to be champions of sustainability.
It is hard to pick out any one car brand for special praise but if I had to it would be BMW for its commitment to building lower-polluting cars and its push for electric mobility. The latest weapon in its eco-friendly arsenal is the X3, its mid-sized sports utility vehicle (SUV).
It may look just like any other SUV from BMW but this X3 xDrive30e is one of the most advanced cars in the luxury German brand’s extensive line-up that includes traditional combustion engines, hybrids and fully electrics. The X3 falls into the middle category as a hybrid — a plug-in hybrid to be precise.
What this means is that it has two power sources: An electric motor and a petrol engine. The two sources toggle between each other depending on how you are driving, while the petrol engine can cleverly charge up the electric battery. When you are switching between electric and petrol, the X3 does this so seamlessly that you hardly can tell when it is happening.
At low speeds, such as when you are in the city centre or a car park, the X3 will default to its electric motor. Once your speed rises when you hit the open road, the combustion engine kicks in. And if you fail to charge up the battery, or when the battery runs out while driving, it can still be recharged while you are driving, thanks to the generator function of the petrol engine.
In simple terms, the petrol engine recharges the battery once it runs out. Braking and decelerating also recharge the battery. The main power source is a turbocharged two-litre petrol engine that produces 184hp of power and 300Nm of torque.
The electric motor produces a more modest but carbon-friendlier 109hp and 265Nm. When combined, both systems deliver 292hp and 420Nm to all four wheels via a smooth-shifting eight-speed gearbox. As a plug-in hybrid, the X3 xDrive30e has three unique modes that are selected via the eDrive button: Max eDrive, Auto eDrive (the default setting) and Battery Control.
BMW says the model has a combined consumption (using both petrol and electric power) figure of 2.8 litres per 100km which is extremely efficient. Its fully-charged electric battery allows you to travel petrol-free for up to 55km, more than enough for the average daily office commute. Charging the 12kWh battery takes 3.5 hours with a BMW i Wallbox.
Plus, there are a lot more charging points popping up all over Singapore too. The new X3 xDrive30e is produced alongside other conventionally-powered variants of the X3 at the BMW plant in Spartanburg in the US where the manufacturing process is much greener as it uses renewable energy.
I am not one to preach to others, but we should all think about the pollution we cause from travel, in particular with fossil-fuelled cars and planes. But there are other benefits too. Electric driving in urban areas is cheaper than using petrol or diesel if the plug-in hybrid vehicle is charged at home or at the workplace. Besides producing less noise, the ride is also much smoother than a petrol engine.
As for its interior, the X3 features a comfortable and spacious cabin wrapped in plush leather and materials as well as a host of onboard technology. The 3D camera is one of the best around and connecting to your mobile phone is a breeze.
While it is described as a mid-sized SUV, the X3 pretty big in stature which means more road presence and more space inside. With this latest model, BMW has made it very easy to make the leap into the future mobility. Many motorists feel uneasy switching to a pure electric vehicle, so a hybrid is the perfect halfway house.
BMW X3 xDrive30e
$266,888 including COE
Petrol engine: 1,998cc, 16 valves, inline 4, turbocharged
Battery power: 80kWh
Combined power/torque: 292hp/420Nm
0–100kmh: 6.1 seconds
Top speed: 210kmh