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BMW iX3 Review

Introduction

BMW’s X3 SUV has been a popular model among leasing customers for years now, thanks to its mix of premium badge appeal and interior quality, comfort, and an engaging driving experience. The iX3 takes that exact same recipe, but replaces the internal combustion engine under the bonnet with a powerful electric motor.

With a solid range per battery charge, and the same comfortable ride quality and agile handling X3 customers expect, it hasn’t suffered any compromises from its electriciation. It also boasts a great interior, one of the best infotainment systems around, and is capable of very fast charging. 

Select's rating score* - 4.2 / 5

At a Glance

It wouldn’t have been a surprise if BMW just added an electric option to the existing X3 model line up, in the same way that it’s done with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid versions of the popular SUV. But the company has decided that all its electric models should be under the ‘i’ badge, and so the iX3 name was decided upon. 

To all intents and purposes though, it’s an electric X3, and all the better for it. 

Everything customers love about the X3 remains, but it now has no polluting exhaust emissions, and will do up to 285 miles on a single charge. Performance is peppy, and those inside will be treated to a top-quality premium experience in either of the two well-equipped trim levels.


Key Features

Most of the big selling points of the iX3 are the same as the X3. It looks very similar, although you can spot its electric credentials by blue exterior touches, and the unique badging. Its interior quality is excellent, with a solid build and some materials that feel plush to the touch, and it comes with one of the best infotainment systems on the market in terms of ease of use.

A wireless phone charging pad under the dash is standard, and there’s plenty of space for five inside. Even the boot is a good size, despite the presence of batteries for the electric motor, which on other models can impinge on the load space. All this, and it drives well too, with nimble capability through corners, and supple enough suspension to keep passengers comfortable.

One feature it doesn’t have is four-wheel drive; all iX3 are rear-wheel drive, which helps efficiency but might be a downside for those that want to do mild off-roading.


Range & Batteries

The iX3 uses a 73.8kWh battery with a 286-horsepower electric motor, which gives it a range up to 285 miles on a single charge.

That’s not a bad benchmark, and it’s more than the Audi E-Tron and Mercedes-Benz EQC, but less than the Q4 E-Tron, which will do up to 317 miles.

The Tesla Model Y manages up to 326 miles (depending on model), and has all-wheel drive too, as well as more power. However, for the vast majority of users, 285 miles will cover even the largest of commutes.


Performance & Drive

For most users, the iX3 will have just enough power. Its 286-horsepower figure sounds impressive, but factor in the relatively heavy weight of the car compared to a petrol or diesel model, and it makes for brisk, rather than scintillating acceleration.

It’s certainly no Tesla when you put your foot down, but 0-62mph takes 6.8 seconds, which is far from slow. Plus the instant response from an electric motor, with no need to wait for engine revs to build, means it has plenty of zip.

That feeling of perky power is mirrored by the handling, which treads an excellent line between comfort and agility. Heavy the iX3 may be, but the weight is all low down, giving it a low centre of gravity.

This really comes into its own through the bends, with the iX3 staying flat and composed, helped by steering that has plenty of feel and feedback. Again, it’s not as outstanding as Tesla’s Model 3, but it’s more nimble than any electric SUV offering from Audi or Mercedes.


Charging

You can charge your BMW iX3 at home, using a wallbox, or at a public charger. With the capacity to charge at up to 150kW (the same as the Audi E-tron), using a rapid charger will fill it from 10% to 80% in just 27 minutes. 

Using the more common 50kW chargers will take around an hour. At home, charging at 7kW from an empty battery to full will take about 12 hours. A 22kW mode 3 charging cable is included.


Running costs & Emissions

The iX3’s leasing rates look to be very competitive against rivals like the Audi Q4 E-tron and considerably below the Tesla Model Y, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC. Compared to a petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid BMW X3, it’s a bit pricier per month, but not by much.

Of course, you’ve also got to factor in that running costs in terms of fuel will be far cheaper. Your best bet will be to charge overnight at home, and get an electricity tariff that’s cheaper at off-peak hours. But even using public chargers will cost less than filling up with petrol or diesel.

Insurance won’t be particularly cheap however, as the iX3 sits in groups 44 and 45 of 50, which is a bit more than equivalent standard X3s.


Interior & Technology

The interior and tech of the iX3 isn’t the flashiest on the market, but it’s a classy design with great quality materials – much like the X3. Everything is really well considered and easy to use, especially the infotainment system, which combines a big, wide, 12.3-inch touchscreen with a buttons-and-dial setup between the front seats. 

This makes it really straightforward to adjust things on the move without having to glance away from the road, as is the case with the proliferation of touchscreen-only systems.

There’s also a configurable digital display behind the steering wheel, which replaces traditional analogue dials, and lets you decide which driving information you’d prefer to see, whether that be fuel economy, sat-nav directions, range or myriad other things. 


The top-spec M Sport Pro trim has a head-up display, which projects certain information onto the windscreen, meaning you never need to take your eyes from the road.

Much of the iX3’s settings and statuses can be monitored through the BMW smartphone app, which lets you see how much charge you have, plot in a sat-nav route and plenty of other remote features.

If you have a compatible iPhone, you can also use it as a Digital Key, and if you want to, authorise up to five people (who also have iPhones) to use your car. If one of them is, say, a new driver, you can limit the power and speed they can drive at.

Practicality & Boot Space

Electric versions of cars can often have compromised practicality compared to their petrol or diesel equivalents, because of the need to package bulky batteries within. But BMW has done an excellent job of fitting the power cells in places that don’t get in the way. 

That means there’s a good amount of space in the back of the iX3; two adults should easily be able to cope with long journeys in the rear, although three might find it tight. Keep it to two, and they’ll be able to recline their seats back for extra comfort, too.


Boot size is also very good, although at 510 litres it’s 40 litres down on the X3. That means it’s slightly bigger than the Mercedes EQC, but slightly smaller than the Audi Q4 E-tron. 

The rear seats fold down in a 40/20/40 split for extra space if you need it, and there’s a small space under the boot floor to keep charging cables in.

When it comes to general storage, there are big door pockets and a roomy glovebox, as well as lots of space in a cubby hole in front of the gear stick, and another under the central arm rest.

Safety

At the time of writing, the iX3 hadn’t been tested by independent safety organisation Euro NCAP. Such tests are the industry benchmark for safety.

However, Euro NCAP has tested the standard X3, which is mechanically very similar. It received the full five-star score in 2017, and that makes us pretty confident that the iX3 will fare just as well. It’s packed with standard safety features, both to help avoid an accident and to protect its occupants if the worst happens.

Driving Assistant Professional is included on all models; this is a suite of systems designed to make life easier as well as safety, and includes Adaptive Cruise Control, which keeps a regular gap from the car in front and makes life particularly stress-free in traffic on the motorway. The iX3’s system is particularly clever, as it can read road signs and adjust your set speed according to the current limit. 


Other systems include Steering and Lane Control Assistant, which helps you stay in the middle of your lane by correcting your position as you drive, and Lane Keeping Assist will intervene if you do veer out of your lane and risk a collision. If you have the in-built navigation system active, Active Lane Guidance will tell you when you need to make a lane change to stay on the right course.

Automatic parking is also included, as is the eDrive exterior sound, which generates an artificial noise at low speeds to warn pedestrians of your presence.

All models have Isofix child seat mounting points on the outer rear seats, as well as front, side and curtain airbags.

Options

There are two trims to pick from in the iX3 range, both based on the sporty M Sport level. This gives you a sporty-looking bodykit and plenty of standard features. The M Sport model has 19-inch alloy wheels, black leather upholstery with blue stitching, and heated front seats, as well as adaptive LED headlights and an automatic boot lid.

A panoramic sunroof is standard, as is three-zone climate control air conditioning.


Upgrade to M Sport Pro, and in addition to the above you’ll get 20-inch alloy wheels, extra lumbar support on the driver’s seat, the head-up display and a Harman Kardon surround sound audio system. The cabin has acoustic glass to reduce road and wind noise.

Options are relatively few, but they include a range of metallic paints and several interior trim detail options, as well as different leather colours for the upholstery. You can also splash out on more powerful laser LED headlights and a towbar.

Rival Cars

If you’re after an electric SUV then we’re going to assume that you’re not interested in the numerous petrol, diesel and PHEV premium SUVs that are on the market. Instead, we’ll focus on zero-emission competition, and the most obvious ones come from BMW’s main rivals, Audi and BMW. Audi’s Q4 E-tron and its sportier sibling, the Q4 E-tron Sportback, is similarly classy inside and, depending on spec, has a higher range, although it’s not as fun to drive. Neither is the Mercedes EQC, although it’s a bit more special inside than the BMW

The Jaguar I-Pace is very much fun to drive, but quite a bit pricier to lease. Then there’s the Volvo XC40 Recharge, which is bonkers fast in a straight line and offers a premium experience that’s a bit more left-field than the Big Three German brands.

You should also consider the Tesla Model Y. This is a fair bit pricier to lease than the iX3, but it offers several powertrain options, including some scintillatingly fast ones, and models that have a better range than the BMW. It’s also packed with some very impressive in-car technology, and perhaps most importantly gives you access to the comprehensive Tesla Supercharger network, which is far more reliable than the still-often-patchy charging infrastructure that other brands have to rely on.


Verdict & Next Steps

Those looking for an electric car that breaks away from the norm and announces itself as new and futuristic might be a bit let down by the iX3. But for many people, for whom the idea of going electric is fraught with anxiety, the similarity between this electric BMW and the regular X3 will make it a much more relatable and palatable choice. 

It’s basically your standard, very well executed premium SUV, except it’s powered by electricity rather than petrol or diesel. 

Everything we like about the X3 remains, including its decent space, great interior and brilliant infotainment system, and the running costs can be quite a bit less. On top of all that, it’s better to drive than most of its competitors, and cheaper to lease than a lot of them too.

In short, it’s well worth checking out.

Where to next?

View latest BMW iX3 leasing deals- guide price from £528.90 per month inc VAT**

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New Electric SUV? Read our latest Reviews and find the right model for you.

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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the BMW iX3

**Correct as of 06/01/2022. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £4,760.10  Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.

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