BMW debuts iX3 all-electric SUV

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BMW has started to open pre-orders for its iX3 electric SUV ahead of its arrival next summer.


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Revealed in concept form two years ago, it’s the second fully electric car in the BMW stable alongside the i3 and joins the existing plug-in hybrid and petrol/diesel engines in the third-generation X3. It’s also the first model to be built for export at the Shenyang plant in China, which is operated by the joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive.

The iX3 is distinguished from the conventional X3 with blue detailing and powered by the fifth incarnation of BMW’s eDrive technology, which will also provide the basis for the iNext and i4 models from 2021. The latest-gen eDrive features a new drive system unit, generating 286hp with peak torque of 400Nm that BMW says can be sustained at high revs. The 0-100km/h sprint is taken care of in 6.8 seconds, comparable to the X3 xDrive30i, and top speed is electronically limited to 180km/h. The iX3 is also rear-wheel drive only.

The electric motor in the new-gen eDrive has been designed for much higher power density; BMW says it’s up to 30% greater than that of existing fully electric vehicles within the group portfolio. It’s also said to be up to 93% efficient, compared with under 40% for combustion engines.

Alongside a more efficient motor, the iX3 uses a much more energy dense battery that’s lighter relative to its size and capacity. Fully charged, the 80kWh battery (74kWh net) offers a range of up to 460km and can take a rapid charge of up to 150kW, giving 80% battery capacity in 34 minutes. It also enables AC charging at up to 11kW.

The iX3 also carries over the BMW Maps navigation system from the i3 but with improved routing and arrival times. The system provides services such as navigation with range display on the map and detailed information on public charging stations.

The iX3 also offers so-called adaptive recuperation, which modulates the regenerative braking to match the prevailing road conditions, based on data from the navigation system and the driver assistance system sensors. Drivers can also choose a high, medium or low Brake Energy Regeneration setting.

Boot space stands at 510 litres with the rear seats up, rising to a maximum of 1,560 litres;  both down by just 40 litres compared to conventionally powered X3 variants. BMW says interior space is on a par with them.

Two trim levels will be offered: an entry-level specification dubbed Inspiring or Premier Edition, depending on the market, and the Impressive/Premier Edition Pro. Both are positioned to offer significantly increased standard equipment compared to the X3 to heighten the iX3’s trailblazing focus.

Standard features include wireless phone charging, heated front seats and BMW’s latest driver assistance technology, including Driving Assistant Professional, Parking Assistant and BMW Live Cockpit Professional. iX3 also gets sun protect glazing, ambient lighting and electric seats.

The iX3 Impressive/Premier Edition Pro also comes with head-up display, Harman Kardon surround sound, Gesture Control, Parking Assistant Plus, automatic high beam assistant, comfort access and lumbar support.

The iX3 also debuts BMW’s IconicSounds Electric, which has been developed in collaboration with composer Hans Zimmer and provides bespoke sound patterns to match different driving states.

Deliveries start summer 2021.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news - or gossip.