Like the e-tron, EQC and I-PACE, the BMW iX3 is a seminal car for the brand, being effectively the first 'volume' EV to join its ranks. Yes, the i3 was the first, but it most certainly wasn't ever aimed as a volume seller. BMW's X-designated model range is wildly popular, and thus its first X-branded EV should appeal to a wider audience.
In the UK, BMW is launching the car in two specification levels – the Premier Edition and the Premier Edition Pro. Both can be ordered right now, but won't be delivered until summer next year.
Both of the launch editions use the same powertrain, a key element of which is the fifth generation electric drive unit from BMW. The motor, power electronics and transmission are packed into a common housing, with the motor being a current-excited synchronous unit which does away with rare earth materials. Power density is up to 30 per cent greater than other EV motors from BMW and delivers efficiency of up to 93 per cent.
Power sits at 282bhp assisted by 295lb-ft of encouragement – figures which are sustained at high revs to reflect BMW's history of petrol engines that deliver linear power. That said, this power output is the lowest compared to its direct rivals, with the base-spec Audi e-tron 50 being closest at 308bhp. Still, 282bhp – all sent to the rear wheels in characteristic BMW style – is still enough to power the EV from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, which is in-line with the petrol-powered X3 xDrive30i. Top speed is 112mph.
The 74kWh (net) battery is around 20 per cent more energy dense than other BMW Group EVs and enables the iX3 to travel up to 279 miles on a single charge. This puts it ahead of all its rivals aside from the Jaguar I-PACE which has an official range of 292 miles, albeit we found that to be very generous. A maximum DC charging rate of 150kW deliver 80 per cent in 34 minutes, or 62 miles per 10 minutes. An on-board 11kW AC charger will enable overnight charging to be comfortably achievable.
For £61,900 on the road, buyers can get the BMW iX3 Premier Edition. Standard features include wireless phone charging, heated front seats and the latest BMW driving assistance technologies including: driving assistant professional, parking assistant and BMW Live Cockpit professional.
The BMW iX3 Premier Edition Pro is available for £64,900 and on top of the above kit, buyers will get: head-up display, Harman Kardon surround sound, gesture control, parking assistant plus, automatic high beam assistant, comfort access and lumbar support. As if that weren't enough, the Pro gets BMW IconicSounds Electric, with various functions having sounds created for them by none other than Hans Zimmer.
Standard exterior options across both cars include a choice of four metallic paint colours including carbon black, mineral white, phytonic blue and sophisto grey. Customers can choose between brushed aluminium or black high gloss exterior trim whilst an auto tailgate, adaptive suspension, panoramic sunroof and 20 inch black aerodynamic wheels complete the look of the car. The wheels actually reduce the car's drag coefficient by around 5 per cent, aiding a Cd of 0.29 and adding six miles of range to the car on their own.
Inside, there is a choice of four leather colours whilst a sensatec dashboard and sun protect glazing come as standard – as does ambient lighting and electric seats. The rear seats are 40:20:40 split/folding, enabling the boot capacity to be enlarged from a decent 510 litres to a maximum of 1560 litres.
Up front, the standard BMW Live Cockpit has a 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster alongside a 10.25 inch central display. An iDrive controller is retained, as is a multifunction steering wheel, for those who would rather not use the touchscreen, gesture control or voice control to use features such as Google Assistant, Google Maps, Spotify or WhatsApp.
On paper the BMW iX3 stacks up as a worthy competitor to the cars from Jag, Merc and Audi, but doesn't excel in any particular way when looking at the spec sheet in isolation. It's not the cheapest, doesn't officially go the furthest, isn't the most powerful or the largest. So why would you go for one?
Our hunch – aside from good old fashioned brand loyalty – is that the BMW will be the most dynamic to drive in its segment. Whilst that's not necessarily a huge selling point for the average SUV buyer, it will sway more than a few, especially when journalists like us get to drive it and start waxing lyrical about how it drives!
If you'd rather buy one on spec alone, head over to www.bmw.co.uk/ix3 to pre-order.