Here’s a crazy idea: What if the least expensive version of a BMW was also one of the best…and electric? That’s what the iX3 SUV is
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You’ve already read about the potential that EVs bring and all that good stuff, but the fact remains that your typical EV is quite a bit more expensive than a similarly-sized petrol car with comparable performance.
BMW bucks more than one trend with the iX3, the electric version of its midsize SUV, the X3.
It launched in Singapore earlier this year in July, and promptly made a big entrance by being the least expensive X3 of them all. To compare, back then, the iX3’s price of S$251,888 with COE beat out the cheapest gasoline model, the X3 sDrive20i, which retailed for S$254,888 with COE.
That’s thanks to the EEAI and VES rebates of course, but price is just one factor of the iX3’s appeal: BMW’s approach to building electric vehicles is another.
While other EVs rely on the ‘wow’ factor to shock your friends (nicely), BMW has flipped the switch and taken another route – the iX3 looks and feels like a familiar BMW that just happens to be electrically-powered. The German brand is taking a similar route with its i4 sedan that arrives in Singapore next year – look it up here – and see how similar the M440i Gran Coupe and i4 M50 are in appearance to get a better idea.
What is the iX3?
From the outside, the iX3 doesn’t shout out its all-electric underpinnings – blue highlights on the grille surrounds and sides of the car, plus unique aero-optimised wheels are the key things that differ from a gasoline X3. The ‘secret weapon’ here is aerodynamics: While the big 20-inch wheels draw attention, it’s the car’s flat underbody and active-flap (inside the grille) that help the iX3 slip through the air more efficiently and go further, per charge.
The interior is typical BMW SUV: Lots of functional features and technology alongside luxurious materials.
A fully digital cockpit experience is the order of the day: 12.3-inch digital display instruments and a 10.25-inch touchscreen that’s the backbone of the onboard iDrive system. BMW’s easy-to-use iDrive rotary controller is still present, but there’s also considerably more capability to it: You can speak to your car and issue commands through BMW’s voice-driven Intelligent Personal Assistant and even check the car’s status, charging operations, or pre-cool it through BMW’s on-phone app.
With the drivetrain, BMW has taken a different tack as well. Instead of the more common all-wheel drive approach with a motor driving each axle, the iX3 has a single motor driving the rear wheels (RWD is of course, a very BMW thing), putting out 286hp and 400Nm of torque. On paper it seems less brawny than other luxury EVs of a similar size, but the iX3 doesn’t fail to deliver the goods as you’ll see.
The Driving Experience
The iX3 starts up with an electronic whoosh, but it’s mostly silent running otherwise. That’s because the car is refined, the electric silence doesn’t leave ‘sound space’ for creaks and groans (there aren’t any) and it’s very easy to pilot around Singapore’s urban jungle.
Adaptive dampers spell for good ride quality as well, and it’s here that you might realise the iX3 packs all of the bonuses of the X3 family – good view from a tall posture, lots of headroom and cargo space. In fact the iX3 only trades a small amount of boot space (510-litres, compared to 550-litres), in the evolution to electric.
Switch up to Sport mode and things get interesting, with the BMW Iconic Sounds effect replacing the ‘engine’ noise – it’s futuristic and almost musical, no surprise since Hans Zimmer helped create it.
In our experience, the iX3 accelerates as quick as you could want, and delivers impressive range too – a CarBuyer test drive score of 16.3kWh/100km. With 75kWh of usable battery size means 460km on a single charge.
So, why this car?
If you’re in the market for an electric car and want something that does its best to preserve the BMW experience, but just happens to have an electric motor instead of a gasoline engine, the iX3 is an excellent choice. It has all the draws of the BMW X3 midsize SUV, and adds on the pluses of electric power and an enjoyable drive experience as well. The fact that it’s less expensive than a gasoline X3 is what will reduce resistance to the iX3 further.
|Electric Motor||286hp, 400Nm|
|Battery||Lithium ion, 75kWh (net)|
|Charge Time / Type||10 hrs / 7.4kW wallbox|
|Electric Range||454km average|
|Price||S$281,888 with COE (as of November 2021)*|