BMW X3 hybrid engines, drive & performance

The plug-in X3 is good to drive and has plenty of power, but the petrol engine can feel thrashy

BMW X3 hybrid
0-62mph Top speed Driven wheels Power
6.1s 131mph Fours 288bhp

Like all BMW hybrids, the X3 xDrive30e defaults to electric power on start-up. Left to its own devices, it'll run in 'Auto eDrive' mode, with the car deciding on the best combination of electric and petrol power to use in order to deliver the most efficient progress.

If you'd prefer to retain electric power for use later in your journey (for example, in an urban area after a long motorway drive), 'Battery Control' mode lets you specify a certain level of battery charge to retain until you tell it otherwise. There's also 'Max eDrive' which keeps the car in electric mode (as long as there's charge in the battery) unless you accelerate particularly hard.

You may find yourself using that mode a lot, as it allows you to truly appreciate just how quiet and refined the X3 is. This is already the case in the petrol and diesel-engined versions of the car, but the absence of engine noise doesn't mean you're suddenly subjected to rattles, clatters and wind or tyre roar you couldn't hear before.

The suspension is extremely good at ironing out harsh bumps, too. When you do have to call on the petrol engine, you'll be disappointed – the two-litre unit is a little harsh in its operation. 

BMW X3 hybrid 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration

Performance is strong thanks to those combined power sources: 0-62mph is over and done with in a tenth over six seconds and the engine, motor and gearbox work together to deliver a seamless surge of power when called upon.

The X3 stops short of feeling eager when pushed harder, thanks in part to the slightly thrashy nature of the engine at higher revs. Performance is still adequate, but the equivalent three-litre six-cylinder diesel in the xDrive30d is smoother. 

Handling

The X3 xDrive30e impresses on a twisty road, despite its already-hefty weight having been added to by the hybrid system and its batteries. It feels solid, grippy and planted unless you really push your look, so all but the most demanding drivers will be satisfied.