What is it?
Almost a decade after launching the i3, BMW finally brought out its second fully-electric production car towards the end of 2021. And this time it looked normal.
In fact, it is normal. It’s just another X3. Which is actually BMW’s biggest selling car – yes bigger than the 3 Series. The X3 can be had as petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and now full-electric. The version fuelled by unicorn wee is eagerly awaited.
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HAS IT BEEN MODIFIED FOR BATTERIES AND WHATNOT?
The iX3 was engineered after the rest of the current, third-gen X3 lineup was finished. So they didn’t alter much. The cabin is unchanged. Its body shell isn’t much different, even underneath.
This means the battery isn’t as big as you might expect. And it has to hang below the floor so there isn’t as much ground clearance as a full SUV. Legroom doesn’t increase. It’s rear-drive only, and there’s no front boot. Its myriad of rivals have bigger packs, twin-motor 4WD and frunks. Uh oh.
And yes it may be pretty new, but what you see here is actually the facelifted iX3. BMW announced a refresh of its looks in August 2021 – before any pre-facelift examples even reached the UK. Odd. In the end those pre-facelift cars were badged as Premier Edition and Premier Edition Pro. Nice work from the marketing department. The facelift doesn’t change too much, bringing a sharper front end, larger kidneys and rear lights that take inspiration from the 2 Series Coupe. There’s also a bigger infotainment screen and a fresh gear selector.
HIT ME WITH SOME FIGURES.
So, the magic numbers then. With just the one 282bhp motor, 0-62mph takes 6.8 seconds. There’s none of the whiplash acceleration of the rival leccy-SUVs. The battery is a modest 80kWh gross, 74kWh useable. BMW looks to be dragging its feet badly here.
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But the WLTP range is an excellent 285 miles, and this smallish battery will charge fast because it’ll accept 150kW.
In other words, the iX3 seems to be very efficient, and it targets the way people really use their cars rather than the characteristics that’ll win YouTube or Twitter wars.
WHO’S IT FOR?
It’s for people who want a crossover not for off-roading but because of the high driving position and big boot. That’ll be most buyers of crossovers then, especially electric crossovers, and especially in China and the US.
And China is where the iX3 is built. Not that you can tell – the build quality, materials and refinement are exactly what you get out of the Munich factory, or indeed the US factory where the normal X3 is made.
Despite the apparently compromised layout, it uses BMW’s latest generation of battery, electronics and motor. The battery has greatly improved energy density, the motor has better power density. In other words, more go from less size. They’re also seen in the i4 saloon and will be in the iX SUV too, both of which use a dedicated floorpan and so have space for a higher-capacity pack to get more range.
The iX3 is usefully cheaper than its whizz-fast 4WD rivals (think Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 and Audi e-tron 50). The pre-facelift Premier Edition started at £58,850, with the Pro at £61,850. Now you can have an M Sport for £60,970 or an M Sport Pro for £69,970.
What’s the verdict?
“BMW’s second full-electric car is a little more ‘normal’, a pragmatic EV that can go a long way on a charge”
After the way-out-there i3 and i8, this is all pretty pragmatic. The iX3 is a mainstream crossover, and can go a long way on a charge.
BMW admits it isn’t an off-roader, because few people go off-road. And it doesn’t carry the weight and cost of dual motors in pursuit of a crazed 0-62mph time, because after one or two trial runs most people find they don’t want to be human cannonballs. That said, 0-62mph in 6.8 sec is none too shabby by the standards of the diesel crossovers that so many people are happy with. You won’t be wanting for speed unless you regularly frequent Autobahns, and if you do, a small SUV probably isn’t for you anyway.
And those engineering choices mean it wears a lowish price. At least among the premium brands. Mind you, it arrives at the same time as things like the Mustang Mach-E, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Kia EV6, the Tesla Model Y and the VW Group’s trio of ID.4, Enyaq and Q4 e-tron – all of which undercut the BMW. Talk about competition.
Audi Q8 e-tron
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