Car reviews - BMW - iX3 - M Sport
Quietness, crisp steering, balanced handling, calm ride, decent cargo space, fit and finish, supportive seating
Room for improvement
Weight, range, acceleration, no cargo-area seat release, needs ventilated seats, towing capacity
BMW’s eSUV shows a lot of promise for what’s to come
7 Mar 2022
By MATT BROGAN
BMW’s iX3 is the first of three key battery-electric vehicles for the Munich-based brand. The iX3, which arrived in local showrooms towards the end of last year, will soon be joined by its iX and i4 Gran Coupe siblings.
Priced from $114,900 (plus on-road costs), the iX3 sits third from the top in the recently revised X3 line-up and boasts several unique aesthetic touches to differentiate it from its ICE siblings.
The exterior and interior executions are emboldened by subtle electric blue garnishes, while the 20-inch alloy wheels are aerodynamically optimised and specific to the iX3 variant. All Australian versions of the iX3 are fitted with BMW’s M Sport package, which incorporates adaptive LED headlights, enclosed BMW kidney grille, imitation rear diffuser and LED tail-light clusters.
Inside, cabin features include heated front sport seats upholstered in Vernasca leather (with electric adjustment and memory), a panoramic glass sunroof, 12.3-inch BMW Live Cockpit Professional, digital instrument panel, head-up display, LED ambient lighting, tri-zone climate control, reclining second-row seats, and a powered tailgate.
The multimedia array offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as Bluetooth connectivity, DAB+ digital radio, a wireless device charging pad, plus a premium 16-speaker harman/kardon surround sound audio system.
Other technology highlights include gesture control, Connected Package Professional, comfort access, tyre-pressure monitoring, vehicle pre-heating and pre-conditioning, Driving Assistant Professional and Parking Assistant Plus.
Driver aids and safety technology include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go functionality, lane-keeping assist, cross-traffic warning, evasions assistant, crossroads warning with city braking and speed limit assist, park assist, active park distance control, lateral parking aids, reversing assist, 360-degree camera system with remote 3D view, and acoustic pedestrian protection (below 30km/h).
The iX3 is exclusively rear-wheel-driven and features a single rear-axle-mounted electric motor that develops peak outputs of 210kW and 400Nm. BMW quotes a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 6.8 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 180km/h.
Power is sourced from an 80kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which is good for a driving range of up to 460km (WLTP). BMW says that the iX3’s battery pack can be charged from 10-80 per cent in 32 minutes when using a 150kW DC fast charger, or from empty to 100 per cent in 44 hours when using a domestic (240V/10A) outlet.
In the Australian market, the BMW iX3 competes with models such as the Jaguar i-Pace EV400 SE (from $137,830) and Mercedes-Benz EQC 4Matic (from $124,300).
The iX3, which is built at BMW’s Brilliance facility in Shenyang, China, rides on the same CLAR (Cluster Architecture) as plug-in hybrid and internal combustion powered BMW X3s.
Its rear-mounted motor is both smaller and lighter than the unit that powered the discontinued i3 and combines an electro-mechanical differential and three driving modes (EcoPro, Comfort, and Sport) to ensure every joule available is employed optimally.
The iX3’s 20-inch alloy wheels are wrapped in 245/45 front- and 275/40 rear aspect tyres. The model tested wore Bridgestone Alenza rubber, which delivered impressive wet and dry handling, and generated very little road roar. Coupled with a near-silent mechanical package and minimal wind intrusion, the iX3 is one of the quietest EVs we’re sampled on these pages thus far.
BMW quotes a front-to-rear weight distribution ratio of 47:53 per cent, which means that most of the iX3’s 2180kg (tare) heft is set over the rear axle. That, coupled with the rear-wheel-drive-only configuration and 20mm lower suspension, gifts the iX3 with athletic cornering poise and reassuring front-end grip quite like most any other BMW SUV you may care to consider.
Without an additional motor to propel the front wheels, the iX3 is a sweetly accurate car to steer. The front-end telegraphs its intentions to the driver accurately and loses none of the authoritative steering feel that BMWs are known for.
Although pleasingly weighted at higher speeds, the iX3’s thick-rimmed steering wheel is easy to twirl at manoeuvring speeds and the SUV’s 12.1-metre turning circle is reasonably tight for a car that measures 4734mm in length.
Joining the feelsome steering characteristics of BMW’s driver-centric machine is a brake pedal that is both well-modulated and well-assisted. The powerful stopping action of the M Sport braking package is backed by a four-mode regenerative (motor) braking system.
In Adaptive mode, the iX3 can “learn” your driving style and match the amount of braking regeneration it applies to the topography of the route you’re driving (via the satellite navigation system). In undulating terrain, the system is remarkably clever – it knows when to coast and when to apply regenerative braking force! The function requires familiarisation, but is impressively proficient, and contributes useful percentage points to your overall energy consumption.
On test, we averaged 18.4kWh over some 400km (or 434km from a full charge). A mix or urban and extra-urban travel showed the iX3 to be an entirely liveable family car whose only real letdowns come from the lack of remote seat release function in the load bay, and a severely impacted towing capacity (750kg) compared to petrol- and diesel-powered rivals (2000kg).
The iX3 is said to offer 510 litres of cargo space in five-seat mode (and up to window height). That makes the battery-electric model’s load-bay capacity 40 litres smaller than those of its internal combustion siblings, but 60 litres bigger than that of the plug-in hybrid xDrive30e.
We really enjoyed the iX3’s generous interior space, impressive outward visibility and… shapely sports front seats. Although they would have benefitted from having a ventilation function, they were otherwise supportive and very comfortable. The pews offer just the right amount of electric adjustment, which compliments their not-too-thickly bolstered squabs and backrests to a tee.
There’s a lot to like about the iX3 – assuming, of course, you have (or can raise) the $115k or more with which to purchase an electric SUV. It’s beautifully finished and wonderfully quiet machine that is simply lovely to drive. What’s more, in our experience, it achieved close to the range claimed by its maker while still giving its driver the “full BMW experience” at the ‘wheel.
12th of August 2021
BMW iX3 here in November from $114,900
The iX3 is the first of three key EV arrivals for BMW, with iX and i4 to follow
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