BMW iX3 review

Category: Large Electric

Section: Performance & drive

Star rating
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

If you’re expecting Tesla-esque performance from the BMW iX3 then you’ll be mildly disappointed. It’s plenty quick enough (0-62mph takes 6.8sec), but acceleration is strong rather than especially thrilling. However, switch to Sport mode in the range-topping Premier Edition Pro and you do get an eerie electronic soundtrack dreamt up by German film score composer Hans Zimmer. Put your foot down and the noise gets louder and the pitch rises as your speed increases, just like it would if there was a petrol engine under the bonnet. 

Unlike its four-wheel-drive rivals, the Audi E-tron, Mercedes EQC and Jaguar I-Pace, the iX3 is only available with rear-wheel drive. That shouldn’t be of concern unless you regularly get snow or live down the end of a muddy track, though, as the iX3 has plenty of traction whether it’s wet or dry. And while a Tesla Model 3 Performance feels more nimble, the iX3 leans over less and feels more agile than the E-tron, EQC and even the I-Pace. That makes the iX3 amongst the most enjoyable electric SUVs to drive.

Filling a car with heavy batteries rarely does good things to ride comfort, but the iX3 does without the sophisticated air suspension of its main rivals (the E-tron and EQC have this as standard, the I-Pace as an option), relying instead on good old steel springs. But you can adjust the stiffness of the suspension, tightening things up for country road driving or softening them off for long motorway jaunts, so, while it’s certainly firmer than the wafty E-Tron and I-Pace, it deals with bumps in a perfectly agreeable manner, both around town and on faster roads. In fact, anyone who suffers from car sickness may prefer the iX3’s well-tied down feel to its floatier rivals.

You get a bit more tyre and suspension noise with the iX3 than you do with its main rivals, but anyone coming from a petrol or diesel X3 will be pleasantly surprised. Not only is the electric motor quiet (unless Herr Zimmer’s work has been activated), you won’t feel the vibration of an engine, either.

Of course, the iX3 needs to do the electric car bits well too, and it certainly impresses with how far it can travel between charges; its official range of 285 miles beats both the E-tron (up to 249 miles) and EQC (252 miles). Granted, you’ll have to drive extremely gently and wait for warm weather in order to match any of those official numbers, but we’d expect 220 miles to be easily achievable in fair conditions. 

Even on an exceptionally cold winter’s day, we calculated that the BMW would cover 192 miles on a charge with the cabin temperature set to a toasty 21deg C, compared to 211 miles for the I-Pace. That’s based on each car’s indicated energy consumption and the usable size of its battery pack.

BMW iX3 2020 Rear tracking

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