Luxury brands have been in a race to catch up with Tesla in the electric vehicle game, and they’ve all taken different approaches.
You have the Jaguar I-Pace, one of the trailblazers in this space, which features a dedicated platform and concept car looks, then you have the Audi e-tron quattro and Mercedes-Benz EQC which are based on existing architectures but feature their own nameplates and designs.
BMW decided to base its mid-sized luxury electric car on its top-selling X3, calling it the iX3.
As we’ve seen from other brands, including BMW’s own Mini, using an existing platform and badge as the basis for an electric vehicle may not revolutionise zero-emissions motoring, but the familiar look and feel is more palatable for customers who may be a little wary of joining the EV train.
The iX3 is can be distinguished from its petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid siblings with some relatively subtle design elements, but otherwise it looks and feels like a regular X3 – which is one of the frontrunners in the mid-size luxury SUV segment.
Does the 2022 BMW iX3 benefit from its well-known DNA? Let’s find out.
The BMW iX3 sits at the upper end of the facelifted X3 line-up in Australia, priced from $114,900 plus on-road costs.
It’s $10,000 dearer than the petrol-electric X3 xDrive30e plug-in hybrid (which only offers around 40km of real-world electric range), and is $4000 more affordable than the X3 M40i mid-tier performance model.
2022 BMW X3 pricing:
- BMW X3 sDrive20i: $74,900
- BMW X3 xDrive20d: $77,900
- BMW X3 xDrive30i: $89,900
- BMW X3 xDrive30d: $95,900
- BMW X3 xDrive30e: $104,900
- BMW iX3: $114,900
- BMW X3 M40i: $118,900
- BMW X3 M40i Frozen Edition: $142,900 D/A
Price excludes on-road costs unless specified
While $115,000 is no small amount of cash, the BMW iX3 is one of the more affordable electric SUVs from luxury brands, undercutting most rivals by tens of thousands of dollars.
One contributing factor could be the fact the iX3 is built in Shenyang, China at the BMW Brilliance Automotive joint-venture facility – most Australian-delivered X3 models are assembled in South Africa, while the xDrive30e PHEV hails from the United States.
There are, however, similarly-sized vehicles from mainstream brands which offer similar levels of performance, range and features for substantially less money.
Key rivals include:
- Audi e-tron 50 quattro: $139,900
- Hyundai Ioniq 5 2WD: $71,900
- Kia EV6 GT-Line RWD: $74,990
- Jaguar I-Pace EV400 SE: $142,580
- Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4Matic: $124,300
All prices exclude on-road costs
It’s worth noting, that by VFACTS segmentation the Ioniq 5 and EQC fall into the same premium mid-size SUV segment as the iX3 and its X3 siblings, while the e-tron, EV6 and I-Pace are regarded by the FCAI as large premium SUVs.
- M Sport Package
- M High-Gloss Shadow Line roof rails and window trims
- Panorama glass sunroof
- 20-inch M light bi-colour alloy wheels
- Chargefox 5-year unlimited Fast/Ultra Rapid charging subscription
- Model 2 Domestic charger
- Model 3 Public charging cable
- Vehicle pre-heating/pre-conditioning
- BMW IconicSounds Electric
- Head-up display
- Adaptive LED headlights
- High Beam Assistant
- Adaptive Suspension
- Driving Assistant Professional
- Parking Assistant Plus, incl. Reversing Assistant
- Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
- Automatic climate control
- Leather ‘Vernasca’ upholstery
- Instrument panel in Sensatec leatherette
- Sport front seats
- Electric seat adjustment, including driver lumbar
- Heated front seats
- Interior ambient lighting package
- Galvanic embellishers for controls
- Reclining function for second row seats
- Comfort Access incl. BMW Digital Key
- Electric tailgate
- Through-loading system
- Storage compartment package
- BMW Live Cockpit Professional featuring BMW OS7
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- 12.3-inch central touchscreen
- Connected Package Professional
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wireless)
- Harman Kardon 16-speaker surround sound system
- Wireless smartphone charging
- DAB+ digital radio
- Gesture control
The list of available cost options is relatively short, such is the iX3’s high level of standard specification.
Key options include:
- BMW Laserlight: $2000
- Shadow Package: $2000
- Darkened headlight internals
- Rear privacy glass
- M High-Gloss Shadow Line w/ extended elements
- Fine-wood trim in ash open-pore: $350
There’s also a number of colour and trim options that are available for no extra cost, including six available metallic paint finishes, the option to switch out to BMW i Blue accents for Frozen Grey ones, as well as three interior leather colours.
The current-generation BMW X3 wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating with 2017 date stamp for xDrive20d and xDrive30i variants, but the rest of the range remains unrated.
In its four-cylinder, all-wheel drive format, the X3 managed category scores of 93 per cent for adult occupant protection, 84 per cent for child occupant protection, 70 per cent for pedestrian protection and 58 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- AEB with crossroads warning
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Lane-keep assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Front and rear cross-traffic alert
- Evasion assistant
- Speed limit assist
- Steering + Lane Control Assistant (Level 2 autonomous mode)
- Surround-view cameras with 3D view
- Front and rear parking sensors
Unlike some versions of the facelifted X3, which launched in Australia missing some assistance features due to the global semiconductor shortage, the iX3 gets the full Driving Assistant Professional package.
Very much like an X3.
Having recently driven the new X3 in plug-in hybrid xDrive30e guise, there’s no real surprises in the iX3’s cabin bar a few blue highlights to signify BMW’s ‘i’ electric sub-brand and iX3 badging in places rather than X3.
That means fit and finish is top notch, from the high ratio of leatherette-lined and soft-touch surfaces to the bank vault-like ambience and the crisp, clear driver and infotainment displays. Don’t let the ‘Made in China’ tag fool you, this feels every bit like any other BMW X3.
There’s also the chunky M leather steering wheel, as well as the damped, solid feel to all the switchgear. BMW is arguably the most consistent of the three German luxury brands right now when it comes to solid build and material quality.
With that said, it’s very conventional in its design and layout, which won’t appeal to those with more adventurous tastes, and the grained leather and Sensatec leatherette don’t feel as soft or supple as higher-grade trims available elsewhere. I’d personally pay extra to have BMW’s excellent Merino hide covering as much of the cabin as possible.
Comfort and space up front is among the best in class, with a wide range of electric adjustment in the front seats and (manual) steering wheel, including under-thigh cushion extenders, as well as an ergonomic layout to all the buttons and switchgear. There are no silly touch-capacitive controls here.
The dual 12.3-inch displays are running BMW OS7.0 – not iDrive 8.0 like you’ll see in the new iX – but it’s very easy to use and the convenience of wireless Apple CarPlay means you’ll usually default to just mirroring your phone.
Load times are snappy, the graphics are crisp, and features abound. Native satellite navigation and connected services mean if you don’t use smartphone mirroring you’re well catered for with the inbuilt software, and it feels like an upmarket system.
The iX3 gets a 464W 16-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system as standard, which offers crisp audio and thumping bass if you adjust the levels. It’s not Audi Bang & Olufsen good, but it’s still impressive.
Hope into the second row and again it’s very X3, which is a good thing. Good space for two adults (three at a pinch), rear climate controls, map pockets, a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, USB-C charge ports, and large door bins with bottle holders headline the rear amenities.
There’s also tall windows making outward vision for kiddies excellent, as well as ISOFIX anchor points for the outboard positions and top-tether points across all three rear seats. A standard panoramic sunroof with electric shade brings more light into the cabin without sacrificing much rear headroom as well.
I can comfortably fit behind my own driving position at just over 6’1, but I’d note if you have three in the back the large hump for the regular X3’s driveline intrudes on foot and toe space for the middle passenger.
Behind the second row is a 510L luggage area, which expands to a handy 1560L with the rear seats folded.
That’s 40L down on the regular X3 in both two- and five-seat configurations, though ahead of the X3 xDrive30e plug-in hybrid by 60L as the batteries are not stored under the boot floor in the iX3.
The iX3’s 20-inch wheels aren’t wrapped in run-flat rubber, but there’s no spare wheel – a tyre repair kit is supplied and that’s it.
Just a lot of plastic, as you can see pictured above.
Power in the iX3 comes from a single-motor electric drivetrain featuring a 210kW/400Nm e-motor on the rear axle fed by an 80kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Zero to 100km/h takes a claimed 6.8 seconds.
That means the iX3 is down on grunt compared to its main rivals, which feature dual-motor drivetrains as standard – the Audi e-tron 50 quattro (230kW/540Nm), Jaguar I-Pace (294kW/696Nm) and the Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 (300kW/760Nm). It’s worth noting, the BMW is significantly more affordable.
In Australian specification (fully optioned, big wheels etc.) BMW quotes a driving range of 440 kilometres and an electric consumption rate of 21.6kWh/100km.
The iX3 supports single-phase AC charging at up to 7.4kW and three-phase charging at up to 11kW.
It can also be plugged into a DC fast-charging station at a rate of up to 150kW, where it’ll take 32 minutes to charge from 10 to 80 per cent. A 10-minute charge adds 100km of driving range – and it’s free for five years on the Chargefox national charging network.
Where a lot of standalone or dedicated EV models can feel a bit foreign, the iX3 is refreshingly familiar in all respects but its electric drivetrain.
Everything looks and feels like an X3, and the only real difference is the power delivery from the electric motor as well as the silence that comes with electric motoring.
Performance is smooth, muscular and refined, and the iX3 is able to play synthesised noise through the speakers as part of the BMW Iconic Sounds Electric program. It offers a handful of distinct sounds to play at different intensities depending on user preference and throttle position, among other inputs.
Even though the iX3 doesn’t have as much grunt on paper as its dual-motor rivals, its single-motor setup is lighter and therefore the BMW doesn’t feel that underdone. A Mercedes-Benz EQC is about 300kg heavier.
The 6.8-second 100km/h sprint claim feels very believable by the seat of the pants, and the car doesn’t ever feel slow like Tesla fanatics might have you believe. The more relaxed and effortless feel fits the overall luxury vibe well.
It’s quiet in every measure, from the silent motor to the excellent insulation from ambient wind and tyre noise. The X3 DNA shines through here. I took the iX3 on an extended drive to Lang Lang near Phillip Island over some worse-than-average country highways, and despite the 20-inch wheels this thing felt plush.
The ride is good too: while it errs on the firm side, that’s part of BMW’s more sporting bent, right?
Speaking of a sporting bent, the rear-wheel drive layout does give a bit of that traditional BMW feel, though you can’t ignore the X3’s tall stature and heavy EV running gear. At 2255kg unladen (EU spec), it would take witchcraft to make this feel like a 3 Series.
With that said, the iX3 doesn’t ever feel clumsy or dull, and the floor-mounted battery pack keeps the centre of gravity low. The fluid and relatively communicative controls make for a reasonably engaging experience, but it’s not anywhere near as soulful as say, an X3 M40i or even an X3 xDrive30i.
At a cruise the electric BMW happily hums along, with the company’s excellent driver assistance systems taking the load off during longer drives.
Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic assistance are welcome and useful, even with the iX3’s good outward visibility, and the surround cameras with 3D view make squeezing into tight spots a little bit easier. You really have no excuse if you kerb those pretty wheels.
All BMW models are covered by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. The battery is also covered for eight years or 160,000km – whichever comes first.
BMW offers a choice of four- and six-year and Basic and Plus servicing packages, all with unlimited kilometres. The Basic packages include filter and brake fluid replacements, while the Plus packages include the replacement of brake pads and discs and wiper blade rubbers.
BMW Service pricing:
- Four-year Basic: $1200
- Six-year Basic: $1650
- Four-year Plus: $4605
- Six-year Plus: $5500
It’s also surprisingly efficient. We saw an indicated 18.8kWh/100km during our week of testing, which covered 765km across a mix of urban, freeway and highway driving – well beneath BMW’s 21.6kWh/100km claim.
However, we found it was hard to gauge the impact of that on the vehicle’s range, because the indicated readout in the vehicle’s instrument cluster was always very conservative – showing under 400km on a full charge.
The BMW iX3 is one of the most convincing electric vehicles based on an existing combustion-powered model.
Unlike similar approaches from other brands, the iX3 doesn’t feel like it’s compromised by its ICE foundations, regardless of whether it’s in the form of interior and luggage space, driving range, or price positioning.
BMW has managed to keep its Ultimate Driving Machine character in there somewhat, thanks to the rear-drive setup, and it genuinely feels like a regular X3 – just without the petrol or diesel engine noise when you start it up.
At $114,900 plus on-roads the single-spec BMW iX3 is pretty good value relative to rivals. Considering the Mercedes-Benz EQC is basically a reworked GLC and the Audi e-tron is based on Q5/Q7 running gear, and both cost substantially more, it seems the Bavarian marque is offering something of a relative bargain here.
If you’re wary of going electric and want something that looks and feels ‘normal’, this is one for the shortlist.
Click the images for the full gallery