BMW iX3 review

9 Apr 2022

Move Electric rating: four-and-a-half stars out of five

Sell it to me in a sentence….
The BMW iX3 is a large SUV that’s great to drive, features a good range and has a practical interior that’s packed with tech and has an upmarket finish.

Hmmm, it looks very familiar…
That’s not surprising, because in effect this is an electrified version of the firm’s internal combustion powered X3. BMW claims that the car was designed to accept an electric motor and battery pack from the outset, but apart from some blue trim details, faired-in front grille and some aerodynamic wheel designs the iX3 looks identical to its fossil-fuelled relative.

Yet BMW is hoping the car’s familiarity inside and out will attract customers who might be put off by more futuristic offerings that more clearly wear their EV hearts on their sleeve. In many respects it’s an inspired choice because the X3 is one of the best traditional SUVs you can buy, so you get that car’s engaging driving dynamics, high quality interior and practicality, but with all the benefits of EV running.

Okay, sounds good to me. What are the highlights?
Like we’ve said, the BMW hasn’t been designed for those that want to shout their EV-owning credentials from the rooftops. Yet there’s no denying the iX3 is a handsome looking thing, plus is unlikely to attract the wrong sort of attention - if you want to go about your business largely unnoticed, then this could be the ticket.

More importantly, on the move it feels like an X3 to drive, with nicely weighted and accurate steering and strong grip. With its rear rear-wheel drive layout (the motor is mounted under the boot floor) the iX3 handles with typical BMW balance and poise, responding surprisingly crisply and eagerly for such a big and heavy SUV.

BMW iX review

It’s perhaps not as fun to drive as a Jaguar i-Pace, but it’s not far off and there’s enough entertainment here to maybe even encourage you to seek out twistier and more interesting routes on your journey home.

Yet it combines this agility with decent comfort and refinement, and that’s only partly down to its near-silent electric motor. The suspension is fitted with special adaptive dampers that can be softened or stiffened at the touch of a button, allowing the BMW to do a good job of soaking up bumps on even the most rutted and rough roads. It’s quiet too, with very little wind and road noise.

Like many EVs it’s also child’s play to drive. Just press the start button, engage drive and away the BMW whizzes. Acceleration of the line will startle owners of sports cars, while with no gear changes the performance is delivered in one smooth and uninterrupted surge.

Like the exterior, the iX3’s cabin looks almost identical to the standard car’s, but that’s no bad thing. Not only is the dashboard logically laid out with plenty of traditional switches and controls for easy easy use on the move, it’s got one of the best infotainment systems in the business. 

The 12.3-inch screen looks conventional compared to the wide-screen jobs seen in most rivals, but the graphics are clear, the menus simple to use and it’s packed with features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

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Better still, while you can use it as a touchscreen there’s also an iDrive rotary controller on the transmission tunnel between the seats, which is much more intuitive and comfortable to use. It’s also safer because your eyes don’t need to leave the road as much to use it.

What are the numbers?
BMW keeps things simple here, as there’s only one battery and motor choice. No need to spend hours hunched over brochures, simply choose your trim level (M Sport or M Sport Pro, it’s that simple) then away you go.

Happily, the iX3’s 73.8kWh battery is a reasonably-sized one that gives an impressive claimed range of up to 285 miles. Better still, our real world experience with the car suggests that 220 miles should be easily achievable with any white-knuckled range anxiety taking hold. Even on the chilliest day with the heater going and ten-to-the-dozen you can expect a solid 200 miles between charges.

Speaking of which, like many of its rivals the BMW is capable of charging at up to 150kW using a rapid DC CCS charger. That means you can be back to 80 percent capacity in as little as half an hour, which is the perfect amount of time to take a break and have a bite to eat on a longer journey.

Most owners will charge at home, however, using a 7kW domestic wallbox. As expected this takes longer, with around 11 and a half hours needed to fully replenish the battery. That might seem like a long time, but bear in mind it’ll be rare that you’ll ever run the car down to nothing, so you’ll more likely be topping-up every time you park up for the night.

In terms of the performance, the iX3 is brisk rather than quick, certainly compared to slightly more expensive models such as the i-Pace. Still, with a healthy 282bhp on tap the BMW can zip from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, which is fast enough to have passengers either giggling with delight or tutting in displeasure.

What about that interior? You said it was conventional.
Yep, unlike models such as the Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC, the BMW feels very traditional inside. That’s because the whole lot is carried over pretty much unchanged from the X3, and that’s a good thing because as the saying goes: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

We’ve already touched on the logical dash design and infotainment, but also unchanged is the upmarket finish. The materials are all first rate and the build quality is superb, all helping the  BMW feel properly posh inside.

The driving position is excellent too, with a wide range of adjustment that allows you to get as low as possible for a sporty feel, or perched up high for the full panoramic SUV experience. 

There’s just as good news for those sitting in the back, where there’s plenty of room to stretch out, while the seats also recline for extra comfort. And while the floor isn’t completely flat like in some bespoke EV models, there’s more than enough space for legs that this isn’t an issue.

Like the standard X3 there are numerous places to store the odds and ends that come with family life, plus enough cup holders to cope with a family-sized McDonald’s (other fast food providers are available) drive-through purchase. You’ll also have no problem charging smartphones, with numerous USB sockets and even a wireless pad.

Boot capacity has dropped by 40-litres compared to the internal combustion X3, although the 510-litre capacity is pretty generous. It’s well-shaped as well, and has a flat lip for easy loading, while the rear seats have a versatile 40/20/40 split-fold arrangement. There’s also space under the boot floor to store any charging cables (it’s surprising how many EVs miss out on this trick).

Okay, this all sounds rather positive; there must be some problems.
To be honest, there’s not really a lot you need to look out for. There are some quirks, but they are just that.

For instance, for the many that love the fact the iX3 looks so much like a normal SUV, there will be many that will wonder why it’s not more outlandish, like the firm’s bigger iX model. Yet for those customers, there are other options, such as more expensive versions of the Audi Q4 e-tron or the entry-level i-Pace.

Perhaps most curious of all is the fact the iX3 is two-wheel drive only. You’d expect an SUV to at least have a four-wheel drive option, but to keep weight down (it’s around 300kg lighter than an e-tron) and efficiency up, BMW decided against adding another motor. You’ll just have to leave it at home when the snow falls.

But that’s about it really. Overall, the BMW is a great first choice for those taking their first steps into EV ownership, but want all the premium feel and familiarity of their old fossil fuel powered car.

Okay, I’m ready to sign on the dotted line, but what else should I consider first?
The market for largish EV SUVs is growing all the time, so you’re not going to struggle for options. With a starting price of around £60,000, the iX3 costs similar money to entry-level versions of the Audi e-tron, which matches the BMW for upmarket appeal and has one of the best interiors in the business, but can only manage a claimed 197 miles on a charge. On the other hand, the slightly smaller Q4 e-tron isn’t quite as spacious or as good to drive as the iX3, but in flagship 55 guise it costs a similar amount and will manage more than 300 miles.

The Mercedes EQC claims a more impressive 255 miles of range, is faster and has four-wheel drive, but it’s around £10,000 more expensive. The same is true of less costly i-Pace models, with the difference that they’re faster still and promise 292 miles.

Then there’s the recently introduced Tesla Model Y, which is around the same money, yet can manage up to 315 mile on a charge, is even roomier and is backed by the brand’s excellent Supercharger network.

It’s not the most exciting to look at, but the iX3 is a very capable, spacious and well-equipped premium SUV that’s also great to drive and has a strong real world range.

BMW iX3 specification

Price from: £59,730
Motors: Electric permanent magnet synchronous
Gearbox: Automatic
Driven wheels: tow
Maximum power: 282bhp
Maximum speed: 111mph
0-62mph from 6.8secs
Electric range (official) 280-285 miles
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Tyres from: 245/50 R 19
Kerb weight excluding driver: 2255kg
Gross vehicle weight: 2725kg
Height: 1668mm
Length: 4734mm
Wheelbase: 2864mm
Width with mirrors folded: 1891mm
Maximum boot capacity: 510-1560 litres



Audi e-tron

Jaguar I-Pace

Mercedes EQC

Audi Q4 e-tron

Ford Mustang Mach E



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