New BMW iX vs new BMW iX3: interiors

The BMW iX takes a clean-sheet approach to facing the future, but does that make it a better electric SUV than the less radical iX3?...

BMW iX dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

Very few cars on sale today can match the visual appeal of the BMW iX’s interior; it’s easy to forget that you’re sitting in a car and not a comfortable lounge, especially if you opt for the optional Interior Design Loft Pack, as featured on our test car. For an additional £450, this swaps the standard leather trim for comfy and great-looking soft suede throughout.

You’d expect, then, that the more traditional interior of the BMW iX3 can’t really compete. And when it comes to pure wow factor, it can’t. But that’s not to say that the iX3’s interior is disappointing. In terms of material quality, the soft-touch plastics and leathers used throughout are right up there with what you get in the iX, and we suspect that some buyers will actually prefer the more traditional layout of the iX3; if you’ve ever sat in another BMW, you’ll feel instantly at home.

New BMW iX3 dashboard

Meanwhile, when it comes to user-friendliness, both cars are pretty impressive. Both have comfortable driving positions that place you high enough to know that you’re driving a large SUV, and there’s a great view out of the windscreen and side windows. Granted, the view over your shoulder isn’t quite as good in the iX, due to its chunkier rear pillars, but both cars have front and rear parking sensors and high-definition rear-view cameras to help when manoeuvring.

Both cars make it easy to get comfy; there’s plenty of steering wheel and driver’s seat adjustment. This is all manual in the iX in Sport trim (you’ll need to fork out an extra £2200 on the Comfort Pack to get electric seat adjustment), but electric adjustment is standard on the iX3 in the M Sport Pro trim we have here. It’s frustrating, too, that the iX’s lumbar support adjustment works via the infotainment system; the iX3 has a handier physical button on the seat.

Unfortunately, that trend crops up time and again in the iX; even the climate control has to be adjusted through the screen, while the iX3 gives you physical buttons that are far easier and less distracting to use on the move.

BMW iX centre console

Both cars provide a 12.3in digital instrument panel and a head-up display, but while the iX3’s display plenty of useful information clearly, the iX’s set-up is even more impressive. It uses the abutting infotainment screen as the display for a clever augmented reality navigation system that superimposes sat-nav directions over a live feed of the road ahead from a forward-facing camera, providing virtual signposts that show you exactly when to turn.

The iX also gives you easier and more diverse customisation for the HUD and driver display, via buttons on the steering wheel.



BMW iX infotainment

You’ll struggle to find an infotainment system that gives you such pin-sharp graphics, super-fast responses or as much freedom to customise the layout as you get from the iX’s huge 14.9in screen. It’s unlike anything else and hugely impressive. However, the complexity of this latest system makes it a little less intuitive to use than older versions, and the touchscreen climate controls are tricky to use on the move. We prefer the iX3’s physical buttons.


New BMW iX3 infotainment

The iX3’s 10.3in touchscreen is mounted high, where it’s easy to read. Despite using an older version of BMW’s iDrive interface than the iX, the iX3’s system is more intuitive and easier to use, thanks to its simpler menus. Granted, the iX’s screen is crisper and slightly faster to respond to presses, but the iX3’s is still one of the very best systems out there. We can’t fault the sound you get from the standard Harman Kardon stereo, either, even with two fewer speakers than the iX.

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