BMW’s first electric SUV, the iX3, looks like a winner: It’s the most affordable car in its class, has at least 400km of range, and is fun to drive
SINGAPORE – BMW might have waited seven years to make its second fully-electric car with the BMW i badge, but the wait has been worth it: The iX3 is a class topper, and clearly one of the best electric cars on sale here today.
BMW was the first brand to launch a proper, usable battery electric vehicle (BEV) in 2014 with the i3 hatchback. Critics say it dropped the electron-ball in the interim, but the brand is clearly making up ground now.
The iX3 made headlines at launch as the least-expensive X3 in Singapore, it impressed us during a short drive/ first impressions and after a proper test drive, we’ve confirmed it’s a strong product: It’s fun to drive, retains all of its X-car practicality, has more range than you’ll ever need here, and not only is it cheaper than its petrol versions, it’s also the least expensive luxury midsized BEV around.
Unlike its competitors – the Audi E-Tron, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Jaguar I-Pace – the iX3 dials back on the ‘I’m an electric car and you better know it’ aesthetic. At this stage of electrified motoring, that’s a plus or minus depending on your point of view, but we quite enjoyed the subtle approach.
The blue highlights are the obvious bit from afar, and closer up the blanked-off grille section, silver side-vent with ‘i’ badge, and 20-inch aero-design wheels are iX3-only touches. Fun fact: The lower section of the kidney grille is actually an opening, and hides an active aero flap behind it.
The blue theme continues in the cabin, but otherwise it’s full-on X3 with a tech-heavy cabin that has lots of room and plenty of stowage space.
The iX3 might be the least expensive X3 of them all, but its price belies its equipment list, which is packed full of everything a modern luxury car should have.
A 12.3-inch active driver’s display and 10.25-inch touchscreen (plus rotary controller, phew) are the tech touch points. BMW’s infotainment system is one of the best now, thanks to its ‘understands normal human speech’ Intelligent Personal Assistant, 4G connectivity and suite of connected services.
A Harman Kardon sound system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, paired with a wireless smartphone charger, round out the impressive tech loadout.
There’s also a full suite of active safety systems, everything from blind spot monitoring, to lane keeping and adaptive cruise control – the latter is ‘Driving Assistant Professional’ which keeps distance and lane automatically, a nice touch to take the edge off the highway grind.
The interior is spacious with lots of headroom, an impression increased by the panoramic glass roof, and there’s also generous room in the second row as well – those who want to pack three adults won’t have too much trouble.
The iX3 has a smidgen less boot space (510 to 1,560 litres) than the regular X3 (550 to 1,600 litres), but a touch more than the PHEV xDrive30e (450 to 1,500-litres). Like the other X3 models, it has useful 40/20/40 split folding seats and an automatic tailgate.