It’s a good car, then, the X3, but one that’s unlikely to set your pulse racing – unless big, practical SUVs with premium badges really float your boat. 

The Telegraph verdict

Does that really matter, though? After all, this is a plug-in hybrid that does its job very well indeed. 

For the most part, that is. After all, the small boot is a bit of a disappointment, and the plusher interiors of rivals feel more appropriate given the money you’re paying for them. 

But you might be willing to forgive those flaws given how much more involving this X3 is to drive than most plug-ins. Yes, it’s a bit soft, but – as a result, in fact – it’s actually rather good fun to drive. 

There’s also plenty of passenger space, good visibility and plenty of comfort – characteristics sadly missing from many a modern SUV. And that plug-in hybrid drivetrain works well, offering up a usable electric range and blending its two power sources smoothly. 

If you really want to take full advantage of the electric revolution, you’ll still need to wait for the iX3 to come along next year; doubtless, it’ll be quieter and smoother. But until then, the xDrive30e is a worthy stand-in – and if you need a company car right now, it’ll do the job very nicely indeed.

Telegraph Rating: Four stars out of five

The facts

On test: BMW X3 xDrive30e M Sport

How much? £51,155 on the road

How fast? 130mph, 0-62mph in 6.1sec

How economical? 134.5mpg (WLTP Combined)

Engine/gearbox: 1,998cc four-cylinder petrol engine, 288bhp (combined system output), eight-speed automatic gearbox, four-wheel drive

The electric bits: AC synchronous motor with 12kWh battery, 3.7kW on-board charger, Type 2 charging socket

Electric range: 34 miles

CO2 emissions: 49g/km

VED: £0 first year, £465 next five years, then £140

Warranty: 3 years / unlimited miles

Boot size: 450 litres

Spare wheel as standard: No (not available)

The rivals

Audi Q5 50 TFSI e Quattro S Line 295bhp, 117.7mpg, £50,410 on the road

The plug-in Q5 is less engaging to drive than the X3 – but you might care less about that, and more about its slicker interior with its smarter materials.  Either way, you’ll find its higher CO2 emissions will make it more expensive to tax as a company car than the X3 – and given how many of these plug-ins will be company cars, that might prove a deal-breaker.

Mercedes-Benz GLC300de AMG Line Premium 4Matic 302bhp, 148.7mpg, £52,190 on the road

No longer is the petrol GLC plug-in available, but this diesel version is; it’s a great powertrain, capable of astounding fuel economy if charged up and pretty respectable figures even if it isn’t. Combined with the GLC’s slick interior and comfortable ride, that makes this a compelling alternative to the X3. 

Jaguar F-Pace P400e R-Dynamic S AWD 398bhp, 130.2mpg, £57,155 on the road

It’s just been released, so we haven’t had a go in this new plug-in F-Pace yet; it’s quite a bit more expensive than its rivals, but then it does pack around 100bhp more than most of them. That said, acceptable CO2 figures and a swish new interior could make this a very satisfying company car. 

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