BMW’s all-electric iX3 gets a makeover for Singapore, but remains supremely efficient and one of the most cost-effective EVs around
Photos: CarBuyer Team
Wait a minute, wasn’t the electric BMW iX3 just launched in Singapore a few months ago? Yes it was, and also, here is the midlife facelift of the car. Not that there was anything wrong with the launch version of the iX3, but after a year in production its been given a visual update, while the drivetrain remains very much the same as before.
Besides a revised exterior, there are a bunch of new parts inside the iX3 as well, and it’s now sold with the M Sport trim package fitted as standard. It’s not overly flashy but you’ll notice that the front bumper is more angular, with larger intakes for cooling the electrics, with additional blue accents at the sides.
The LED tail light clusters have also been given a new design with pincer-like lighting elements that differ markedly from the launch edition of the car.
New 20-inch wheels of M Sport design are fitted, and these have aerodynamic panels that improve the efficiency of the car as it cuts through the air, helping the iX3 gain a little bit of extra mileage over every charge.
Another interesting feature is that the car’s front apron has an active 10-stage air flap control. It closes to varying degrees depending on how much cooling air is needed for the electrics. The closed up flaps further improve aerodynamic efficiency, and are part of the iX3’s suite of clever features to extend the driving range of the car.
The cabin’s big change is that the centre of the dashboard is of an entirely different design to the pre facelift version. The cool thing is that it still has all the controls in the same positions so any BMW driver will know exactly where to look. The update that gives the cabin such a new look is that the surrounds of the centre air vents are of a different shape, and the M Sport package includes a totally different steering wheel. The driver selector lever is now also shorter and less intrusive over the centre console.
Smartphone connectivity and the integration of the iX3 is once again top grade, with the My BMW phone app being able to remotely check many of the car’s settings, including the ability to receive push notifications on when the car is fully charged.
Apple iPhone users are able to unlock the car with the phone’s NFC function, and placing the smartphone onto the car’s wireless charging tray will work as a key for starting it up. This access can be programmed for up to five phones so the actual key fob doesn’t need to be passed around the household.
It’s not as razzle-dazzle as electric cars from some other brands, but BMW saves all that for its technology-leading iX. The iX3 meanwhile is all about presenting a face that’s as normal as possible while packing all the tech under the skin. The cabin is of the usual BMW quality and very spacious. Its also made entirely in China, if you haven’t heard.
The actual driving feel of the iX3 is identical to the pre-facelift version, and that’s to be expected as they are mechanically identical. It’s not as fast as anything from Tesla in a straight line, but it is pretty brisk and has a very dynamic rear-wheel drive character that is well-judged. It’s as quiet as you would expect, and very efficient with power usage too. Find out in the sidebar story below on how we bettered the official energy economy figure by almost 30 percent, without even really trying.
With EVs like the smaller Mercedes-EQ EQA and more mainstream MG 5 EV muscling in onto the electric car scene here and commercial charging stations sprouting up everywhere, it will soon no longer just be a car for drivers living on landed property. Though with the iX3, BMW is including the BMW i Wallbox Plus and a basic installation package as part of the sale.
How we got the iX3 to be super economical with its power
BMW quotes an economy of 19.4kWh/100km on the standard WLTP cycle. We know from experience that in Singaporean road conditions this figure tends to be somewhat optimistic, but we were in for a surprise with the iX3.
After putting some mileage into the car, we came to realise that like most EVs, the BMW iX3 is most efficient around 80 to 90km/h, which just happens to be the speed limit of the entire KPE and MCE expressway tunnel. After a few consecutive trips totalling around 100km through the tunnel and linking expressways, we came up with an astonishing average economy of 13.9kWh/100km, almost 30 percent better than BMW’s official power consumption figure.
That’s a great figure, but almost no surprise: we also found the iX3 to be a very efficient EV overall in our pre-facelift test with it capable of almost 500km on a single charge.
Was there any ‘cheating’ involved? No, not in any way you might expect. It was driven in the default comfort mode with air conditioning running normally. BMW cars have an Eco Pro mode that maximises economy, but that was not engaged for these trips.
What we did do was to trust the car’s very clever adaptive radar cruise control. Like how Porsche claims that leaving the self-shifting twin-clutch transmissions of its sports cars to their own devices will almost always result in better lap times on track than if a driver was selecting the gears, the BMW iX3’s adaptive cruise control is really much better at economising than an average driver.
The car doesn’t just lock into your selected speed and stays there. Like all adaptive cruise control systems it tracks the car in front of you and maintains a driver-selected safety gap preset. It also appears to use the GPS navigation data to plot road gradients very accurately. For example, the car knows when it’s on an uphill incline and as expected, maintains enough power to hold its preset cruise control speed. Just before the top of the hill, the car will back off on the power output, preparing to coast down the hill on the other side while optimising the regenerative braking all the way down back to a level road.
The car’s radar and camera combo tracks traffic from very far ahead and if you’re coming up on a bunch of slower cars the iX3 will back off the power and cruise up to the back of the pack so gradually that your passengers won’t even realise that the driver is not actually doing any ‘driving’. The car’s ability to adaptively modulate speed according to geographic and traffic conditions while still moving at a brisk clip is uncanny.
Manually controlling the accelerator is of course a necessity in start-stop urban traffic, but on longer, reasonably smooth highway journeys, BMW’s adaptive cruise control is infinitely better at energy economy than a human driver.
|Electric Motor||286hp, 400Nm|
|Battery||Lithium ion, 75kWh net|
|Charge Type / Time||7.4kW AC wallbox / 10 hours|
|Max Fast Charge Type / Time||150kW DC / 35 mins to 80 percent|
|Electric Range||Up to 460km|
|VES Band||A1/ -S$25,000|
|Agent||Performance Motors Limited|
|Price||S$281,888 with COE and VES|
|Verdict||Smooth, silent, dynamic, the refreshed electric BMW is a good drive on all fronts.|
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