Less than a year after the very first BMW iX3 Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) was launched in Singapore, a Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) update was announced. While the LCI does not introduce anything radically different, the updates have helped the iX3 keep pace with its key competitors such as the Mercedes Benz EQC and the Audi e-Tron SUVs. More importantly, the LCI ensures that the iX3 keeps within the same life cycle as the current BMW X3, the car that the iX3 is based on. While some have griped about the fact that the iX3 isn't exactly a purpose built electric vehicle like the Audi e-Tron or the Jaguar I Pace, it is evident that it will do everything that a modern, ground up electric car will do. Featuring a full electric drivetrain with its electric motor mounted over the real axle, the iX3 still manages to provision 510 litres of boot space, while the powertrain drives the rear wheels to impressive effect, delivering the century sprint in 6.8 seconds with a top speed of 180km/h. Incidentally, this makes the iX3 the only rear wheel drive X3 that one can buy at this current juncture, as all wheel drive now comes as standard across the X3 range. DC fast charging is also available on the vehicle for up to 150kW, ensuring that the iX3 can be juiced up within half an hour. Interested to book a test drive? - Sign up here for exclusive SG Family Man perks such as $500 Petrol Vouchers when you drive away with your preferred BMW.
Aside from the BMW i3 and BMW i8 which were great cars that were perhaps a little too advanced for its time, the iX3 is essentially BMWs first mainstream electric offering, and while many have questioned why the iX3 isn't a ground up EV, there are obvious benefits to be reaped from basing the car off the extremely capable and well rounded X3. For some years now, the X3 has become the leader in its class and it is honestly one of the best pound for pound cars you can buy today. In fact, if one could only buy and own one more car for the rest of their life, the X3 would be a front-running contender, for the sheer amount of versatility it offers to its owner. In a way, it can be said that the iX3 enjoys the best of both worlds, offering a similar versatility as the X3, while being equipped with an electric drivetrain that boasts impressive performance and impeccable range for a car it’s size.
At first glance, the iX3 looks more utilitarian than it needs to be, and aside from the blue trim accents and it’s blanked out grille which hint toward its electric underpinnings, the iX3 does not outwardly look like the futuristic EVs we are used to seeing - which is a good thing in my opinion. In fact, I’d have the car without its blue trim and slap on large M sport wheels and make it look as mean as possible. After all, it does have the pace to match such an look. This minor aesthetic project would be less possible in another EV such as a Polestar or Tesla.
Keeping in pace with the regular X3’s LCI updates, the iX3 has remodelled front and rear headlamps and new Matt chrome kidney grille edges, along with a restyled front and back apron, giving the car a different kind of sporty look. The car now looks more avant-garde and tidy, and looks more clinical than before. Inside, the iX3 receives the updated 12.3 inch infotainment unit that runs BMW’s OS7. Size really does matter in this instance as the gigantic head unit works wonderfully well in the car, as it does in the standard X3, and really does elevate the user experience of the vehicle in a way not experienced with many other brands. As usual, build quality in the iX3 is top notch, and it’s nice that the cabin isn’t overly minimalist. That said, some may dislike the fact that the iX3’s cabin isn’t differentiated enough from the regular X3.
Apart from OS8, which we haven’t had the chance to trial extensively at this juncture, OS7 remains one of the best in the market in my opinion, and delivers one of the best voice control modules in any car we’ve tested recently. BMW’s reverse assistant is also a really wonderful feature to have if you’re stuck in a tight space, or if you have a kid in the household who has just gotten their driver’s license. Gesture control is a nice feature to have as a party trick to impress your colleagues on a lunch run, but otherwise, I think the buttons on the lovely M Sport steering wheel will do the same job, if not quicker.
Perhaps one of the largest benefits reaped from basing the iX3 off the X3’s platform lies in the way that it drives. While SUVs in general aren’t expected to produce the same driving dynamics as a sedan, BMW has had a knack of producing SAVs that are just a little bit more driver oriented than its competition, with the X3 growing from strength to strength since it’s inception, consistently being one of the better driving vehicles in its class.
To make a long story short, the iX3 produces very much of the same dynamic, providing a good balance of comfort with enough stiffness in the shocks to ensure a fairly level posture even when chucked round faster bends. If like me, you’re not a fan of run flat tyres, then a swap out to regular ones should enhance the ride quality even further.
Potential buyers of the iX3 might also be keen to note that even the lowest regeneration braking settings can still feel quite strong for some. It‘s not a bad thing - but rather something to take note off if you’re choosing between different EVs. One little trick I like to employ is to put the car in sport mode, which seems to nullify most of the regenerative braking. The end result is a silky smooth ride that feels like you’re thundering through space.
With 282bhp and 400nm on tap, the iX3 will do 0-100km/h in a claimed 6.8 seconds, although in reality, the car feels faster than that. Why the iX3 needs this amount of power in its family friendly shape and form can be described as a little bit of an overkill, but hey, most of us would rather have more power than less right? Jokes aside, it would be interesting to see future iterations of the iX3 with a lower powered motor but with a longer range, though the current 460km of range on a full charge is already respectable. In what is probably an oversimplification of the math on my part, I think a version of the iX3 that could perform the century sprint in 8 - 9 seconds, but deliver 550 - 600km of range would not only be perfect for Singapore, but also make it a more direct alternative to the base X3.
For those who enjoy a more autonomous driving experience, i found the iX3 to be quite pleasurable to use with its version of cruise control with auto braking, with the system judging it’s surroundings well, and delivering very appropriate amounts of braking when needed. Not once did the system make me feel like it was too conservative nor too aggressive.
For those who view the iX3 as BMW’s first foray into electric cars, you’d be mistaken, as BMW were actually one of the earliest automakers to introduce EVs in the form of the ever endearing i3 and i8 models, which would indicate that BMW probably has more experience and a more established track record at producing EVs than most other automakers. While it is difficult to say how much of the learnings from the i3 and i8 have been translated into BMW’s newer EVs, it is easy to see why the iX3 is a very good electric vehicle that will appeal to drivers who want a tested and proven platform with positive driving dynamics, along with all the practicalities that a BMW SAV has to offer. If you think about it, the iX3 also represents pretty good value for money if you consider its relatively competitive price in the market and should no doubt be on your consideration list when looking for your next electric vehicle.
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