The BMW iX3 – 266bhp and range of 249 miles – is being shown in concept form but should be available to buy around 2020 as BMW’s answer to the upcoming Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQ.
In the electric jungle of i’s and e’s, the iX3 is unusual for being an electric version of a familiar model rather than the bespoke, standalone creations favoured by rivals. There are design tweaks – blanked off kidney grille and blue styling accents – but it’s all still recognisably X3.
Underneath the body, however, things are very different with the iX3 previewing a new flexible architecture able to accommodate electric, hybrid or combustion engine drivetrains, as well as front, rear or all-wheel drive layouts. BMW says this modular approach will “meet the ever-increasing need for electrified vehicles with a wealth of different variants tailored to meet specific demand.” The ultimate driving machine is going pick ’n mix…
As the first electric X3, the concept doesn’t stray far from mid-size SUV norms, with the promise of plenty of performance, all-wheel drive security and no compromises to X3 functionality and comfort. It achieves this with what BMW says is a new more compact fifth-generation eDrive motor and transmission along with more powerful batteries, all of which bring advances in terms of performance characteristics, operating range, weight, packaging space and flexibility, says BMW.
BMW’s experience with the i3 – of which more than 10,000 have now been sold in the UK – played a big role in developing the iX3. In future, all purely electric BMWs will have an “i” in their badge.
The iX3 battery system is rated at 70kWh which the company says is enough for a range of 400 km (249 miles) in the new WLTP cycle (that’s the Worldwide harmonised Light vehicle Test Procedure which is taking over from the discredited European cycle we used before). Using a 150kW fast-charging station BMW says thew iX3 can be powered up in 30 minutes.
The BMW’s battery-charging and range numbers are matched by one of its biggest rivals, the Audi e-tron, according to new details for the electric quattro confirmed this week. But promising to beat both iX3 and e-tron into showrooms this summer, the Jaguar I-Pace ups the ante with a 90kWh battery, 395bhp and 298 miles on a single charge on the WLTP cycle. Fast-charging the Jag yields an 80 per cent top-up in 85 minutes.