4 out of 5 4.0
Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

BMW's first electric SUV looks good for keen drivers

BMW iX3 SUV (21 on) - rated 4 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £58,795 - £61,795
Lease from new From £608 p/m View lease deals
Fuel Economy 3.3 miles/kWh
New

PROS

  • Drives like a BMW should
  • Looks won't alienate EV newbies
  • Impressive range and performance

CONS

  • Launch editions are pricey
  • No lower-powered versions
  • Long wait for UK models to arrive

BMW iX3 SUV rivals

Written by Keith Adams on

The new BMW iX3 might effectively be an electric version of the popular X3 SUV, but it's a much-anticipated addition to the ranks of electric cars. It's targeted at the heart of the SUV market, although there appears to be a catch – you're going to pay handsomely for one with the starting price for those who want to order one a cool £61,900.

However, the iX3 looks like you're getting a lot for the money. It packs cutting-edge technology, with the fifth generation of what BMW calls its eDrive system under a slightly modified X3 body. If you count the iX3 as an X3, then its introduction marks the first time a BMW will be offered as an EV and PHEV as well as petrol and diesel versions. To differentiate itself from the X3, the iX3 wears a different bodykit with a closed grille and flashes of blue.

It hits a market surprisingly lacking in compact electric SUVs – rivals include the forthcoming Tesla Model Y, Audi Q4/Q3 E-Tron, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Mercedes-Benz EQA and the Volvo XC40 Recharge, which is already on sale.

What's under the skin?

The iX3 builds on EV technology that originally debuted in the BMW i3 – battery density has increased and charging capacity has improved. It's moved on significantly from the groundbreaking small BMW electric car, having benefited from seven years of further development.

Its motor powers the rear wheels and BMW says that it uses no rare metals in it, unlike other e-motors. The system is 30% more efficient (denser battery packs mean more charge stored in any given space) than in the company's existing EVs. The new style of dense battery pack will be used also in the forthcoming iX5 and i4.

Maximum power is 285hp and BMW claims a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds, and a top speed of 112mph. When combined with an 80KWh battery – of which 74kWh is used – the iX3 has a claimed 285-mile range. That range depends on a variety of factors, but can be increased by making liberal use of the regenerative brakes (which harvest energy when slowing down).

What's it like to drive?

This is the heaviest BMW X3, but it also boasts the best roadholding since the massive battery pack lowers the centre of gravity. At the same time, the deletion of the petrol or diesel engine and eight-speed transmission shifts the weight rearwards, thereby aiding traction and handling.

The lighter front end transforms the steering, which is full of feel and is extremely accurate, whatever your speed, driving style and ambition. When driving quickly, the iX3 can be massively fun. 

The braking system is excellent. While other systems are optimised for maximum recuperation, the iX3 puts a short stopping distance at the very top of its priorities. The pedal gives early and positive feedback and delay the signs of fade when used hard.

Pricing and spec details

The iX3 is the second fully electric BMW, and is available to pre-order now. It's expensive though. Two versions will be offered at launch - the Premier Edition and Premier Edition Pro, which will be priced from £61,900 and £64,900.

The Premier Edition gets adaptive suspension, panoramic sunroof and adaptive suspension. Other goodies include electric front seats, wireless smartphone charging and 20-inch alloys. Equipment is generous, but it needs to be at this price.

Is the BMW iX3 worth waiting for? Read our verdict page to find out

BMW iX3 SUV rivals