BMW has unveiled its new fully-electric SUV, the iX3, ahead of it its up-close debut at the Beijing Motor Show later this week. Offered as a direct rival to the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model Y, BMW has opted to stick to the tried-and-tested look of its popular X3 SUV, simply changing the powertrain rather than designing a new EV from the ground up.
That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty to learn about the iX3, which is BMW’s first electric SUV, so let’s take a detailed look.
As we mentioned, to anyone familiar with the BMW X3, the iX3 will be very recognisable. Clue’s in the name, and all that. The first giveaway that it’s battery powered, rather than a petrol or diesel, is the aerodynamic wheels which, BMW says, have been designed to improve efficiency by up to 30% by reducing drag by around 5% compared to the regular X3. The wheels are comprised of aluminium V-spokes which allows the air to flow over them, as well as reduce the weight by around 15% compared to traditional alloys, which are 20-inch as standard on the iX3.
Away from the wheels, it is all about what BMW refer to as ‘signature looks’, such as a new bumper, sides skirts and rear diffuser, which are accented nicely with blue strips. At launch there are four paint schemes to choose from - Carbon Black, Mineral White, Phytonic Blue and Sophisto Grey - and two trim packages with either gloss black or brushed aluminium accents.
The theme of squinting and saying ‘you sure that isn’t an X3?’ continues inside, arguably even more so, but that’s no bad thing because the X3’s interior is an extremely pleasant environment. A new steering wheel with some blue trim is about as much as you’ll get in the way of iX3-specific kit, and it comes with BMW’s 10.25-inch infotainment system whichhouses the excellent iDrive system. Leather seats are standard, as isBMW’s Driving Assistant Professional, Parking Assistant, and Live Cockpit Professional digital instrument cluster. The iX3 also comes with wireless phone charging and ambient lighting.
Two trim levels will be available from launch. The entry Premier Edition trim gets all the standard kit mentioned above, as well as adaptive suspension as standard. The Premier Edition Pro also gets a head-up display, automatic high beam and a Harmon Kardon sound system. It also features something called the IonicSounds Electric system which changes the noise inside the car, depending on how hard it is being driven. Synthetic engine noise…mmm.
Using an 80kWh battery, BMW promises the iX3 will have a range of 285 miles per full charge, and it also offers 150Kw charging, which means 80% of charge can be achieved in just 34 minutes. The sat nav feeds back data to the regenerative braking system so it knows when best to recuperate power on a journey. If it senses a traffic jam ahead, it will automatically set the car to maximum recuperation mode. The battery feeds a 282bhp electric motor on the rear axle, which is good for a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 112mph.
The BMW iX3 costs £61,000 for the Premier Edition and £64,900 for Premier Edition Pro, which means it doesn’t qualify for the government plug-in vehicle grant, as that’s capped at £50,000. You can pre-order the iX3 now, with first deliveries expected next summer.