BMW iX3 long-term test: report 1

Earlier this year, we named the BMW iX3 the best electric SUV to drive, but how easy is it to live with?...

LT BMW iX3 cornering in town

The car BMW iX3 M Sport Pro Run by Steve Huntingford, editor

Why it's here We want to see if this large SUV is a great all-rounder, rather than a one-trick pony

Needs to Combine its precise handling with comfort, refinement and range worthy of a £60k+ electric car

Mileage 1020 List price £63,970 Target Price £63,970 Price as tested £63,970 Test range 212 miles Official range 282 miles Options Mineral White metallic paint (no-cost option)

21 March 2022 – Making its debut

From John Wayne to Samuel L. Jackson, the history of Hollywood is littered with actors who became typecast. And it can be the same story in the car world, with certain brands strongly linked to particular traits.

True, this isn’t always a bad thing; there are plenty of performers who aren’t strongly associated with a specific type of character who would happily swap careers with the aforementioned stars. And the fact that BMW is still commonly known for its ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ slogan 16 years after it officially dropped it certainly hasn’t stopped it attracting a lot of customers.

LT BMW iX3 in town - side

However, just as Mr Jackson might find the offers no longer came in if people tired of watching films featuring a wisecracking badass, so BMW finds itself playing catch-up now that electric cars and sustainability are all the rage, even though it was one of the first brands to embrace electrification.

Yes, it launched the futuristic BMW i3 hatchback a year before the Tesla Model S went on sale in the UK, but if you were to ask 100 random people on the street to name a company that makes electric cars, the odds have to be pretty high that 99 of them
would say Tesla.

BMW’s solution, it seems, is to double down, with the BMW i4 executive car and BMW iX luxury SUV both arriving in recent months, and these set to be joined by two more electric models – the i7 and iX1 – in the near future.

LT BMW iX3 with BMW i3

But perhaps the most significant of the firm’s current crop of electric cars is the BMW iX3, which I’m now running, because it’s more affordable than the iX, yet still competes in the booming SUV sector.

More specifically, I’ve gone for the range-topping M Sport Pro version, which comes with everything you’re likely to want, including 20in alloy wheels, adjustable front seat lumbar support, a Harman Kardon surround-sound stereo and a head-up display that projects key information such as your speed and sat-nav instructions onto the windscreen.

Even metallic paint is standard, so while you’d never call it a cheap car, it does feel like you’re getting good value for money when you compare it with a lot of other electric SUVs.

LT BMW iX3 plugging in

Like all iX3s, mine also features a 282bhp electric motor, plus a battery with a usable capacity of 74kWh that can be charged at
speeds of up to 150kW. This means there are faster and faster charging electric cars out there, but 0-62mph in 6.8sec and a 0-80% charge in as little as 34 minutes aren’t exactly sluggish times, either.

Shortly after its arrival, the iX3 found itself pitched into a winter range test against nine other electric cars, where it achieved a respectable 212 miles before its battery ran flat. That should be adequate for my needs, although I’m looking forward to seeing how much farther I can persuade it to take me when the weather warms up.

What I can already tell you is that, in most respects, the iX3 feels a lot like any other BMW, and that’s not a criticism. The interior is nicely finished and benefits from a very intuitive infotainment system. Plus, this is an enjoyable car to drive, thanks to precise steering, loads of grip and standard-fit adaptive suspension that can soften or stiffen the ride to suit the prevailing conditions.

LT BMW iX3 - behind the wheel

From behind the wheel, the only real giveaway that you’re driving an electric car is the absence of engine noise; instead, M Sport Pro models emit a soundtrack by Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer. Personally, I rather like this, although I suspect there will be plenty of others who immediately look for the off button.

In short, then, living with the iX3 has been an enjoyable experience so far, but there will no doubt be plenty of twists and turns in this story before the end credits roll.

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