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First Drive

First Drive: BMW iX3

The story: The first BMW to be offered with petrol, diesel, PHEV and EV power, the iX3 begins a trident of new electric BMWs this year ahead of the iX and i4.
Key rival:Audi Q4 E-tron
Efficiency:Range: 285 miles
On sale:Now

BMW’s big push into electric vehicles starts now with the iX3 SUV, which will be joined in the next few weeks by the larger iX SUV and the i4 four-door coupe.

Coming with a single 286hp electric powertrain mated to a 74kWh battery that gives it a very reasonable 3.9miles/kWh efficiency, the iX3 will complete the 0-62mph dash in 6.8 seconds, which is slower than the 292hp PHEV X3 or the 286hp diesel, but as with many EVs, the instantaneous response makes it feel quicker than the figures suggest.

First Drive - November 2021 - BMW iX3 - Image 8It also manages to retain a large portion of the BMW driving experience, despite the extra weight. The iX3’s batteries make it heavier than the PHEV or internal-combustion-engined X3s, but it manages to hide its bulk very well from behind the wheel, never feeling heavy or reluctant to turn. It’s better than most rivals, and a hefty 300-plus kg lighter than a Mercedes-Benz EQC for example, and ensures BMW remains one of the car makers building engaging cars. It’s also quiet, with little road or wind noise making it through to the occupants.

There are two levels of regeneration, with braking power enhanced when the gearlever is shifted across to the B setting, rather than the milder standard level. But there aren’t several regen options, as is the case with some other EVs.

The iX3 is most distinguishable from the rest of the range by its enclosed front grille, while there are also more aerodynamic alloy wheels that are said to be 5% more efficient, and little design touches specific to the EV, including blue accents inside and out.

On the inside, it’s all regular BMW, including the latest operating system 7 on the 10.25-inch touchscreen that’s also controlled via a rotary dial, and a comprehensive 12.3-inch dash display.

First Drive - November 2021 - BMW iX3 - Image 3The system is all intelligently designed and user friendly, and benefits from BMW’s over-the-air updates.

The boot is a decent size at 510 litres, although loses 40 litres on the petrol and diesel X3s, but is still 60 clear of the more compromised plug-in hybrid. The cabin is high-quality, has plenty of stowage space and rear occupants will be happy with their roominess.

The iX3 looks to be priced well, costing under £60,000 in M Sport trim, rising by £3000 on the M Sport Pro that still puts it thousands below an EQC or Jaguar i-Pace. Comparison with Audi is tricky because the iX3 is slightly larger than a Q4 e-tron and smaller than the e-tron model, and priced in between, while it’s a little more than the new Tesla Model Y that arrives in the UK next spring.

The iX3 will take a charge at up to 150kW, which translates to 0-80% in 34 minutes, according to BMW, and up to 62 miles can be added in 10 minutes using more powerful public charging points.

paul barker

First Drive: BMW iX3



The verdict

A successful step one of BMW’s three-pronged EV attack. Switching to EVs is getting easier by the day, and the iX3 offers another fine example of the minimal compromises and big benefits.