BMW has revealed the production version of its iX3, the all-electric SUV it hopes will kickstart EV sales in Europe. The new model outputs 286hp and boasts a 286-mile range. While neither makes the iX3 a contender for class honours, the deployment of BMW's fifth-gen electric tech in a hot-selling SUV body makes a compelling case. As does promise that the iX3's lowered centre of gravity offers drivers better handling than its siblings - albeit with the penalty of extra weight.
The iX3 is underpinned by BMW's CLAR architecture, which enables the use of 400V electrical hardware - the secret to the model's fast charge times and its ability to use both single-phase and three-phase charging, as well as direct current rapid-chargers of up to 150 kW. Using the latter, the high-voltage battery can be charged to 80 per cent of its full capacity in 34 minutes, while 62 miles of range can be added in just 10 minutes.
Central to BMW's claim for the new tech is a 30 per cent greater power density than the marque has achieved with EVs before. Along with that peak power, the single-motor system produces 295lb ft of torque - middling for an electric car, although the manufacturer claims the eMotor's setup has been tuned so it produces peak performance across a broader range, including at high motor revs. Something that equates to straight-six 30i performance, we're told.
Flat out, the rear-drive EV hits 62mph in 6.8 seconds and is limited to 112mph; more than adequate for most people's purposes. Those wanting to hammer down the autobahn might be best looking elsewhere in the X3's range - which also includes diesel, petrol and PHEV models, don't forget - while those after the ultimate in power are obviously still best served by BMW's X3 M and its characterful straight-six.
The iX3 will likely appeal to urbanites and those incentivised to buy an electric car for work. Predictably the car's hardware is designed to recuperate kinetic energy while rolling and braking; the intensity alterable to the driver's preference, with the most aggressive setting enabling a one-pedal driving style - or, alternatively, something like normal braking.
Leave it in auto mode though, and the iX3 will use satnav data to decide what's most effective for the road layout ahead - a busy junction, for example, would warrant stronger recuperation, while a slip road would require the opposite. Elsewhere BMW claims the iX3 is typical of its products in handling and performance. It gets a bespoke rear axle subframe to make room for the drive system unit, while standard-fit adaptive suspension gets electronically controlled dampers. You can also opt for a sportier Adaptive M suspension.
Having learnt its lesson with the look-at-me i3, BMW has barely altered the X3's stock appearance. The front kidneys remain, albeit with blanked sections, while more aerodynamic wheels highlight the car's enhanced focus on range. But overall there's no mistaking the iX3 as anything other than is BMW's answer to the Land Rover Disco Sport and Mercedes's GLC. Except for the model's ability to enter tailpipe-free zones and enjoy tax breaks in multiple markets.
Interestingly, when the car arrives on roads in summer 2021, the US won't be among said markets. The UK and much of Europe will, though, with a limited-run Premier edition kicking things off in Britain. Pricing and standard specifications will be revealed in the autumn, at which time pre-orders will be taken, too. Shipping times will be significant: the iX3 is the first global model to be built in China, a product of the BMW Brilliance Automotive plant. A sign of the times then, in more ways than one....
1 / 10