spot_img
HomeDRIVENTHE SILENT BIMMER

THE SILENT BIMMER

BMW iX3

The iX and iX M have decisively proven that BMW is entirely capable of designing future-forward electric cars that shun many traditional design concepts. Of course, not everyone wants an overly conspicuous electric car, right? Some drivers prefer to fly, silently, under the radar, and that’s where the BMW iX3 finds its niche.

As the EV onslaught continues on the premium car market, manufacturers are becoming increasingly bold in their thinking around EV design. BMW’s daring iX and audacious iX M new generation eSUVs are an excellent case in point here.

Although pushing the boundaries of traditional design keeps the industry moving forward, a significant number of buyers are ready to adopt electric but haven’t quite developed a taste for the quirky look of some EVs.

For those buyers, BMW offers a few EVs that echo the look and feel of their ICE-powered counterparts, including the i4, the recently launched i7, and the X3-based iX3.

The X3 is one of the most handsome SUVs on the market, and in iX3 guise is no less so. Virtually identical to its fuel-powered kin, the only indications that the iX3 is, in fact, electric, are the blue accents applied around certain trim elements and the apparent lack of an engine note. Local models are offered in M-Sport guise only, which endows the iX3 with attractive 20” alloys. To add a personal touch, buyers can choose any of three trim levels: Inspiring, Impressive, and Signature. Our tester was especially fetching with its mineral white paint finish and BMW’s Shadowline package.

CABIN: THE SAME BUT DIFFERENT

The iX3’s cabin experience is almost identical to the ICE-powered X3. There are no overwhelming screens and widgets, but the stock standard 12.3” digital instrument cluster facing the driver, and another 12.3” screen for the touchscreen infotainment system. A few splashes of electric blue on the gear selector, start button, and steering wheel are the only visual indications that you find yourself in a fully-electric X3.

Refinement levels in the cabin are as you would expect from BMW – functionally elegant. Most major touchpoints boast soft-touch materials and aluminium finishes, with the seats covered in sumptuous Sensatec leather. Our tester also came heavily equipped with creature comforts, including a panoramic glass roof, heated front seats, BMW gesture controls, and a Harman Kardon Surround System, among others. Customers can also tinker around the configurator to equip their car with the desired amenities. Overall, I found the cabin spacious enough for five adults and the 510-l boot to be more than adequate for a small family’s needs.

LIVING WITH THE iX3

The iX3 is powered by a single electric motor mounted on the rear axle, generating 210 kW and 400 Nm for a 6.8-second sprint from zero to 100 km/h and a top speed of 180 km/h. As conservative as its top speed sounds, this far exceeds the legal speed limit anyway, and the car has more than enough grunt for everyday driving on local roads.

The iX3’s ride quality was compliant in most conditions, although its big alloys and low-profile tyres amplified our deteriorating road imperfections. The well-insulated cabin and absence of engine noise and vibrations enhance the feeling of isolation, which ultimately makes the iX3 an excellent daily driver. With its instant power and loads of torque, the car never hesitates to overtake or merge safely into a busy road.

BMW claims a 460 km range, which we never attempted to put to the test, as once the power level dropped to anxiety-inducing levels, a high-capacity charge was never far away, as most BMW dealers and several public charging points around Pretoria make for convenient charging. After all, I was not taking any chances with Eskom’s woes plaguing the country. 

Bear in mind, however, that your expected range depends significantly on how heavy-footed the driver happens to be. The 80 kWh battery will recharge from around 10% to full in six hours on an AC charger and about three hours on a DC charger. BMW also equipped the car with energy recuperation systems to help you extend your battery range when you are out and about.

LAST WORD

Without hesitation, the iX3 is poised to be a headache for the competition. The iX3 benefits from the charm of familiarity as the car barely deviates in styling and packaging from a traditional ICE-powered X3. While I am a petrolhead at heart, I can easily see why EV life has started to appeal to more people and how approachable electrification is when presented in an attractive and affordable package.

Report by BRYAN KAYAVHU | Images © BMW SOUTH AFRICA

RELATED ARTICLES

IN HERITAGE WE TRUST

HITS THE SPOT

THRILL A MINUTE

Most Popular