The iX3 is BMW’s first electric SUV

16th July 2020
Bob Murray

The BMW X3 is going all-electric but you’ll have to look hard to spot it. Flashes of blue trim are almost all that identifies the BMW iX3 as the company’s first battery-powered SUV. It’s the firm’s second all-electric model after the i3 of 2013 – a car which took a radically different approach to electric-car design.


The rethink is all down to a strategy BMW is calling “the power of choice”. By eschewing a dedicated electric car platform and instead using a version of the third-gen X3, it can offer essentially one car in electric, plug-in hybrid, petrol and diesel forms. It is the first-ever BMW to offer so many power options, as well as the first BMW to be built by a new joint venture company in China.

Blue accents aside, the iX3 then looks just like your regular X3, on the outside and the inside. BMW says is just as dynamic, comfortable, functional and roomy as any X3. Given that the X3 has for 17 years now been a stalwart of the premium compact SUV market, risking alienating buyers with a radically different looking electric version was clearly a step too far.


In any case familiar looks do not mean familiar electric car performance for under the skin is BMW’s latest fifth-generation eDrive technology – more compact, more efficient and reliant on neither rare earth elements nor fitting ever-huger, and ever-heavier, blocks of batteries. Key is a power-dense new motor and packaging it with the transmission and power electronics in a single housing.

It is this same package that will feature in BMW’s next electric cars next year: the larger and more adventurously styled SUV known as iNext and the i4 electric coupe.

The new e-Drive tech delivers 93 per cent efficiency, says BMW – compared to a combustion engine’s 40 per cent. In the iX3’s case that translates to a car with 286PS (282bhp), torque of 400Nm (295lb ft), 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, top speed of 112mph and range of 285 miles.


The top speed is restricted to protect range, but the rest of that brief spec is not so different from an equivalent petrol X3. As such the iX3 takes a very different path from bespoke electric SUVs and would-be rivals like the Audi Q4 e-tron, Jaguar i-Pace and Mercedes EQC, a fact that is likely to be reflected in a different price point for the BMW.

Battery charging also takes a step forward for an electric BMW. The 74kWh (usable) battery can be topped up with 62 miles of range in 10 minutes on a 150kW fast charger, while 0-80 per cent of its full capacity takes 34 minutes. BMW says the battery storage capacity has been substantially increased relative to its size and weight. To aid energy recuperation, the driver can select between high, medium and low brake energy regeneration settings, with the high position offering one-pedal driving feel.


The iX3 is also different in being rear-drive only, but while that might not endear it to farmers it shouldn’t affect normal X3 road handling. In fact with slimmer batteries positioned low down in the underbody and a centre of gravity 75mm lower than regular X3s, BMW hints that the iX3 is more agile than other versions. Most of the chassis apart from the rear subframe is the same as other X3s, as is the standard adaptive suspension and electronically controlled dampers. M sports suspension will be optional.

As well as the identifying blue body accents, the iX3 gets banked-off kidney grille and air inlets in the front apron, and a new rear bumper section. Together with wheels designed to help control the flow of air around the vehicle – said to be single handedly responsible for adding six miles to the range – the iX3 is more aerodynamic than other X3s, with a Cd of 0.29.


Inside, you get the same familiar dashboard, technology, room and practicality as any X3, with the same 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat backrest offering boot capacities between 510 and 1,560 litres.

So that’s the iX3, not so much the Audi e-tron or Jag I-Pace rival, more just an X3 that needs to be plugged in. A winning formula? We shall know more when prices and spec of the UK debut Premier edition model are confirmed in a few months time ahead of sale next year.

  • BMW

  • EV

  • iX3

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