Pandemic life has bestowed blessings as well as challenges. Working and schooling from home for over six months hasn’t been the easiest, but our family unit is certainly closer. What we have missed deeply is a change of scenery. When BMW reached out to have the family test out the 2020 BMW X3 30e for a couple of day trips, we jumped at the chance!
With Toronto currently one of the last places in Canada to enter stage 3 during the Covid-19 outbreak, many normal activities have been ill-advised or simply not worth the risks. The family has been incredibly careful, but we felt it was time for a road trip. SO exciting to see something different in our own province! When we were introduced to the vehicle, it had been disinfected with several cleaners, and had sat for 5 days untouched. What care and diligence on the part of the BMW team! I loved it from the first moment.
We decided to venture to Prince Edward County, less than 2 hours east of Toronto. Though we’d both lived in Kingston as young adults, we’d never seen how spectacular ‘PEC’ is. You can read about the full journey to meet alpacas, see lavender farms and our beach day at Sandbanks Provincial Park here. What I must say is that for a road trip, this vehicle rocked. The kids used the in-car wifi to consume Tik Toks, my phone charged wirelessly on the charging pad and my husband had a blast using the navigation system to explore.
BMW X3e Exterior Styling
One of the only catches with this trip was that my foot is broken. The driving foot. Thankfully, there’s another driver in the family – and he loves to make cars purr. Very familiar with BMW design, my husband’s first reaction was about the shape and styling. The past couple of iterations of the X3 have morphed into a sleek body with built-in movement. The lines are gorgeous and sophisticated. The M3 package on the SUV meant that the tires were larger and fatter, with a sporty low profile.
The panorama sunroof seems to be a feature on many of the 2020 vehicles, and yet it thrills me every time I get in a car.
BMW X3 30e Interior Styling
As a passenger, I had a bucket load of time to play in the X3 30e! The first double-take I did was with the interior finishes. The door handle and dash trim looked like it would be in a vehicle at Buckingham Palace. Kind-of like burled wood that’s so expensive you don’t want to get fingerprints on it. The contrasting stitching could have come out of Saville Row. As an entry-level BMW, the accessibility of bells and whistles once reserved for the luxury models was very noticeable. The touch screen is standard, and a phone charging pad is beautifully hidden under a rolling door on the centre console. The steering wheel, as well as both the front and rear seats are heated. After dark (wow – when was the last time I’ve been out after dark?!), the ambient lighting struck me. The front and rear interior doors have a line of blue light at night that doesn’t distract as much as envelop passengers in a luxurious glow. When I got dropped off with my cane one night I saw that there is an exterior blue light projected on the pavement below the door handles that mimics the interior colour and design of the climate vents.
I noticed the backseat room while letting one of the boys sit up front. The two front seats are much thinner than older vehicles, making for extra space back there. As well, each side window has a sunshade, which is hugely kid-friendly. Many families may not think about the affect of landscapes and cars whizzing by for fussy babies and kids. Being able to dampen the visual stimulation can allow for better car naps and fewer projectiles being hurled at a driver’s head.
The ‘e’ in the X3e
We turned on the X3 and thought it was not working. It was so insanely quiet that we, embarrassingly, turned it on and off a couple of times before we realized it was running. Car manufacturers speak about having a ‘quiet cabin’, and do many things to plug drafts and eliminate unnecessary sounds. All I can say is that the engine is so quiet, the sound system is clear as a bell. It’s like the difference between regular TV and 4K.
Unlike other hybrid vehicles, the X3 30e comes with a level 1, or 120 volt plug that fits into any standard socket. This is a huge benefit as you don’t have to install a new plug in the driveway, though it charges more slowly than a 240 volt station. Plugging it in is simple, and lights on the plug that is inserted into the vehicle indicate when it is done. It takes 6 hours to charge, and that gives you about 50 kilometers of travel via electric power. When we collected the vehicle, it needed a charge, so switched automatically over to gas power. The dash indicates which type of power you are using, and the touchscreen will let you know when a charge is needed.
This is, of course, a huge pillar for BMW, and the number of features was impressive. Lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation, blind spot warning, parking assistant plus with birds’ eye (surround) view camera, backup camera, and adaptive cruise control. The cool thing was that with many features, you can turn them to a lower setting in case your tolerance level means that a beep or nudge of the steering wheel startles you. The heads up display is a terrific reminder to keep a driver in check. It’s a magnificent vehicle with superior handling and torque, and it can be (ahem) easy to go faster than you may want to. This feature can also be turned off if you get distracted and prefer to depend on the dashboard indicators.
I love teaching my husband about testing a vehicle. The steering, the brakes, acceleration and using the manual/sport mode give a true sense of the drive. Once, when we tested a BMW we now own, I freaked out the salesperson by swerving and braking sharply. Nothing like making someone realize that a woman is never a foregone conclusion.
“I would say it’s a sporty SUV. As BMW are known for, it was well-balanced. Particularly in sport mode, it’s a very exciting drive for an SUV. It felt like an incredibly solid drive, even steering around windy dirt roads in Prince Edward County. The brakes were highly responsive.”
Sad to Give it Back
It’s funny. Covid has changed so much of how we do things. Our home is a sanctuary, and on a road trip, so is our vehicle. Each time we stopped for an outing or patio meal, I couldn’t wait to get back to ‘my’ clean, safe place. Sanitize, take off the mask, crank the AC, and breathe a sigh. Especially during a time when safety is paramount, we want to hear our entertainment distinctly, and spend as much time as possibly with close family. I felt like the BMW X3 30e had my back.
Disclosure: We were loaned a BMW X3 to drive for 5 days. All opinions are my own.