New BMW iX3: specs, prices and on-sale date
BMW has issued an update on its forthcoming iX3 electric SUV, due to be revealed in full before the end of 2020. The German manufacturer has confirmed that production will begin in "late summer as planned", meaning the coronavirus pandemic appears not to have affected the car's production schedule.
The car is set to be built at BMW's factory in Dadong, China, with the first examples due to arrive with customers by the end of 2020. The factory has already made 200 pre-production cars, each of which has been subject to testing on Chinese roads.
Previously, the BMW iX3 SUV was spotted testing, while separately, a pair of leaked images appeared online, seemingly showing the car’s design in full. The two pictures were posted to Instagram (below) and revealed the car without any of the test models' camouflage cladding.
BMW initially gave us our first glimpse of the pure-electric SUV while sharing details of what it was intending to display at the now-cancelled 2020 Geneva Motor Show.
The Instagram pictures show the iX3 in its trademark white paint, complemented by electric blue detailing on the grille, side skirts and rear bumper. The iX3 is effectively an electric version of the conventional X3, and as such, the styling doesn’t differ all that much from its petrol, hybrid and diesel-powered sibling.
Our first glimpse of it came in the form of the iX3 Concept at the Beijing Motor Show in 2018. The iX3 will be a rival for the Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC, marking a major change in BMW’s policy for its i cars.
Whereas the BMW i3 and BMW i8 were bespoke models, consciously designed to stand out, the iX3 is based on an existing model and looks similar to its more conventional siblings. BMW is also developing a premium electric four-door coupe called the i4, as well as a larger electric SUV in the form of the iNEXT. Both are due to arrive in 2021.
BMW iX3 styling
The above Instagram pictures – along with the official image from BMW’s Geneva show presentation (below) – appear to show the finished production car. While many potential buyers will like the somewhat conservative design, others will lament the fact that some of the more extreme design features from the concept won’t appear on the cars you’ll see in a BMW showrooms.
It looks as if the front bumper will be smoother and the air intakes smaller in a bid to make the car more aerodynamically efficient than the petrol X3. However, the overall shape remains very similar to that of the existing car. We’d expect the same story to continue inside, but BMW hasn’t yet released a picture of the car’s interior.
One feature of the exterior BMW has gone into detail about, is its aerodynamic wheels. Wheels can influence a car's aerodynamic efficiency by up to 30%, the company says, so it has developed an aluminium wheel with specially designed inserts for the iX3.
They reduce drag by around 5% compared to the conventional X3, and are also 15% lighter than previous aero wheel designs used by BMW. According to BMW, this reduces the iX3's energy consumption by 2%, resulting in an extra six miles of range in official testing. These wheels will also feature on the i4 and iNEXT mentioned above.
Battery, charging, range and electric motors
BMW hasn't published precise details of what'll drive the iX3, beyond saying that it’ll use the latest, fifth-generation eDrive electric technology. We know this includes denser batteries than before, but all the company will say about capacity is that it’s "over 70kWh". BMW says the iX3 "paves the way for BMW eDrive technology", which it confirms will be "used in BMW i4 and BMW iNEXT models from 2021 on".
The company also says it'll feature an "exceptionally powerful electric motor", so we could be looking at a total system output of well over 500bhp if BMW decides to fit a twin-motor all-wheel-drive system.
Range is also yet to be confirmed by any official tests, but BMW says a preliminary WLTP figure is 440km (273 miles) which is similar to what the Audi e-tron and Jaguar I-Pace manage on paper. Last, but not least, the iX3 will support 150kW rapid charging, so a charging point of that speed will be able to charge the car to 80% capacity in less than 30 minutes.
Price and release date
With the iX3 still some months away from going on sale, it’s no surprise there’s no indication of price yet. However, we expect it'll cost significantly more than its conventionally powered equivalent, which starts at just under £40,000. Most of the iX3’s rivals cost upwards of £65,000 – so we’d expect to see the BMW priced in a similar ballpark.