2021 BMW iX3 – First Impressions

BMW’s least expensive X3, the full-electric iX3, is its best and also a clear contender for class-leader in Singapore


These First Impressions are from a short stint behind the wheel, so are less comprehensive than a full test drive/review. To get up to speed on everything you need know about the BMW iX3 – from pricing, to range, and performance and more – read out launch story before continuing on to this first impressions drive story.

This is BMW’s first fully-electric car in seven years and arrives to a crowded stage. Lucky for BMW, and not so lucky for the competition, the iX3 sport utility vehicle (SUV) has instant class-leading potential.

Blue highlights and 20-inch aero wheels mark out the iX3 as driven by electrons

The iX3’s design approach might serve best for people who want to drive an electric car and don’t want to shout about it – being identified as a Tesla-stan can be both positive or negative. BMW has kept it simple, with blue highlights on the bodywork and badge, as well as on the inside, to clue you into the lack of tiny explosions.

X3 Times Three: In Singapore, we’ve tested ‘normal’ X3 sDrive30i, the the plug-in X3 xDrive30e, to the storming X3 M

The interior is familiar, as from the regular X3, so it’s hard to fault, being useful, well-built, and feels luxurious.

iX3’s interior: Familiar, spacious, and useful

What we dread from modern BEVs is the feeling of thumpiness and having lots of weight. The iX3 feels like it glides over everything. Like competitors, it has huge 20-inch wheels as standard, but they only deliver minor jiggling. Overall the ix3 feels comfortable, well-damped, not to mention extremely refined.

It’s not the most powerful in its class, but it is probably the most fun to pilot. Likely a byproduct of BMW sticking to rear-wheel drive (there’s one motor in the rear), the ix3 has a pointy and feelsome front end, and is actually quite nice to throw around. It feels like a BMW first, and a BEV second.

Adding on a little emotion is BMW’s engineered soundtrack, which is activated in Sport mode, yep the very one engineered together with composer Hans Zimmer.  

Like other BEVs, when you truly do start to push more, you can feel the weight showing through, but the BMW takes more to arrive at that point, and it’s a more engaging process too.

But how far can it go? On paper 19.4kWh/100km looks like it ranks up with competitors like the Audi E-Tron 50 and Mercedes-Benz EQC, but we went from north, to east, and back to the south of Singapore – at least 70km – and easily did better than that, around 17kWh/100km. And that’s despite sharing a car with Top Gear Singapore editor David ‘Jiao Khoo’ Khoo.

With the car’s 75kWh usable battery capacity, that implies a real-life range of 440km, making it the best of the current midsized luxury BEV SUV pack. 

Despite the deadweight in the passenger seat, the iX3 was able to hit efficiency levels for a 400-plus km range in Singapore

And it’s not like you’ll get stranded with Singapore’s distances either. If you do run low, the iX3 has relatively quick fast charge times – up to 150kW DC fast charging – which could bring you to 80 percent in just over half an hour. Singapore’s fastest chargers only do 50kW, with a sole 100kW charger here in August 2021. 

Find out why this BMW fan is trading his near-400hp super-sedan for an iX3

The iX3 has many rivals: The Audi E-Tron, Jaguar I-Pace, and Mercedes-Benz EQC. We’ve driven them all in real life on the roads here in Singapore, but with 440km theoretical range the BMW trumps them all, and is quite a bit less expensive too. 

It feels sharp to drive, but is flexible and practical. It can well and truly go the distance, and it is significantly cheaper than its direct rivals – a car can’t ask for much more of an advantage in this climate. And if the iX3 is this good, we simply can’t wait for BMW’s first electric sedan, the i4, which is due in Singapore next year.

BMW iX3 

Electric Motor286hp, 400Nm
Battery Lithium ion, 75kWh net 
Charge Type / Time7.4kW AC wallbox / 10 hours
Max Fast Charge Type / Time150kW DC / 35 mins to 80 percent
Electric Range 454km average 
0-100km/h6.8 seconds
Top Speed180km/h
Efficiency19.4 kWh/100km
VES Band A1/ -S$25,000
AgentPerformance Motors Limited
PriceS$251,888  with COE and VES
Availability Now
Verdict The first fully-electric X3 is one of the least expensive luxury electric SUVs around, and very likely the best

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong