BMW X3 purchase advice

The BMW X3 is not only the world's most successful SUV from BMW, the top seller is also available with four different drive concepts - as diesel, petrol, plug-in hybrid and recently also fully electric. So which one to take?

After the i3 introduced in 2013, BMW took a lot of time with the next all-electric model. And took a different approach. Instead of a completely newly developed series, BMW relies on the X3: power of choice. The SUV is the brand's first model to be available not only with powerful petrol and diesel engines but also as a plug-in hybrid and also as a full-electric vehicle. This iX3 is also the first Chinese-made BMW to be sold in this country - and the only X3 without all-wheel drive.

However, the entire electrical technology of the iX3 comes from Germany, developed and produced in Dingolfing, Regensburg and Landshut. This applies to the 210 kW electric motor as well as to the 188 prismatic battery cells. The three X3 variants, which are exclusively or additionally equipped with combustion engines, roll off the assembly line in South Carolina/USA and have similarly powerful engines with a power range from 252 to 286 hp.

Before we clarify the most important differences, one more note: BMW will be shipping thoroughly modified X3s to Europe from September. For example, all petrol engines now have the 48-volt electrical system with an 8 kW starter generator, which was previously only used in diesel engines. We have not yet been able to take these changes into account.

iX3: Gentle, economical and quiet

There is surprisingly little to complain about with the battery-electric variant, which costs at least 66,300 euros. The iX3 is not a racy athlete and only up to 180 km/h fast. However, its current-excited synchronous machine (210 kW, 400 Nm) is a guarantee for gentle and sufficiently powerful thrust, the test consumption is exemplary low at 26.1 kWh per 100 km. Together with the 518 kilogram battery (net capacity 74 kWh), this results in a range of 314 kilometers, which can easily be increased by 100 kilometers if you drive gently. In any case, it should not fail due to sophisticated driving programs. The iX3 even reliably recognizes red traffic lights and free charging spaces and conditions itself accordingly. The maximum charging power is a good 150 kW. In addition, the driving comfort is right, and despite the engine in the new rear axle support, the trunk only holds 40 liters less than in the combustion engine variants. Not to be forgotten: the rear-wheel drive, which, in combination with precise and sensitive steering, ensures a lot of driving pleasure.

X3 xDrive 30i: slowed down by the state

The xDrive 30i is – sorry, BMW – a rather unattractive petrol engine for the X3. Unfortunately, the days of the 30i with six cylinders are long gone.Under the hood of the four-wheel drive vehicle is now a two-litre turbo four-cylinder engine that produces 252 hp and delivers a comparatively meager 350 Nm to the crankshaft at around 1,450 rpm. This puts it slightly behind the plug-in hybrid and more clearly behind the diesel when sprinting from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds. After all, the 30i only weighs 1,848 kg, drives very quickly through corners and brakes great. The 550 to 1,600 liter cargo space also speaks in favor of the petrol engine (and of course the 30d) - including typical station wagon features such as lashing rails, eyelets, hooks and a remote backrest release that is only available for the combustion engines. Not important? Then the 30i on the siding. With a test consumption of 9.4 l/100 km, the maintenance costs are far higher than those of the brothers. In addition, it is priced in such a way that the faster and more economical PHEV version is 2,781 euros cheaper with the subsidy included.

X3 xDrive 30e: Inexpensive for commuters

The xDrive 30e is the plug-in variant of the 30i, whereby the four-cylinder here has 184 hp and the electric motor integrated into the eight-speed automatic has an output of 80 kW. In the 292 hp strong combination, they help the SUV to achieve considerable sprinting ability and harmonize so well that you also like to cruise and leave the power distribution to the competent engine control. The battery under the loading floor takes up trunk volume and stores 10.8 kWh net. According to our measurements, this is enough for 53 kilometers of purely electric driving. If the petrol engine serves as the primary drive, 9.3 liters are sufficient in the test average. According to the ams profile (15,000 km annual mileage, including 10,000 km short trips), the test consumption is 2.4 liters plus 17.4 kWh per 100 km. The maintenance costs in the most frequent commuter operation are therefore low; and so the subsidized 30e easily outperforms the 30i.

X3 xDrive 30d: One for every day

Once started, you recognize it immediately. Rich diesel sound, cultivated running. Here a straight six of the very first quality hums like it is hardly to be found anymore. That means: three liters of displacement, 286 hp, step charging, 650 Nm from 1,500 rpm and a trailer load of 2.4 tons. In addition, the smooth eight-speed Steptronic, which suits this engine particularly well. It's hard to believe that the 30d also has a 48-volt electrical system and should benefit from the power of an 11 hp starter generator. But those who sail calmly in the two-tonner and simply let it recuperate in advance will also enjoy the very low consumption values. In the test average, the very sprint-strong SUV leaves it at 7.9 liters of diesel. Accordingly, its fuel costs per 100 km are around three euros below those of the petrol engine. That sounds good, but with a price of 57,700 euros, the 30d costs almost 5,800 euros more than the plug-in X3 (with promotion); the iX3 is only 625 euros more expensive. At the same time, the state collects 439 euros in tax per year.At the Vollstromer? Not a dime.

Conclusion

In the end there can't be just one. Honestly, for friends of classic engines, it has to be the three-liter diesel. If long distances don't play a major role, the 30e is the ideal candidate. After all, minus the subsidy of 5,981 euros, it is cheaper than its petrol counterpart 30i, for which its larger trunk and more utility value speak. That leaves the tough and comfortable iX3, which, like the 30e, is not overly expensive, but can transport a little more luggage than this and, given the ranges determined, is definitely available for a longer trip. If you add its lower maintenance requirements and the electricity costs of 8.81 euros per 100 kilometers, it is unbeatably cheap anyway. So our tip: invest in the diesel or choose the iX3, which is only 625 euros more expensive.

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