Reviews

BMW iX3 electric motor, drive & performance

Despite being down on power compared to its rivals, the BMW iX3 feels fast and quite good fun; the ride is a little firm, though

BMW iX3
Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Electric motor, drive & performance rating

4.0 out of 5

0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
6.8s112mphRear282bhp

Regardless of whether it's petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric, a BMW should always be good to drive – and that's generally the case with the iX3. Early impressions are of a quite stiff setup that's presumably been implemented to keep the car's considerable 2,185kg weight in check; the iX3 feels much like its internal-combustion siblings from behind the wheel, just with a firmer edge. 

The resulting composure, paired with relatively quick steering and a low centre of gravity, means the iX3 is perhaps a little more engaging than a Mercedes EQC or Audi e-tron – but sadly, that stiffness means it's also a less comfortable car. It's quiet on the move, however, so should be a relaxing companion on longer drives.

A highlight of the iX3 driving experience – and one that'll pay dividends around town where most are likely to be used – is its regenerative braking system. Like other systems, this lets you operate the car using just the accelerator pedal, lifting off to slow down at a preselected rate. It’s not as strong as the system in BMW’s own i3 electric city car, but the more you use it, the more intuitive it becomes. Further to this, the iX3's system can automatically figure out how much retardation to apply to maintain a suitable distance to the car in front. The sensation is of a cruise control system for braking; it works very well and is a great addition.

BMW iX3 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration

Most of the BMW iX3’s rivals have around 400bhp, which sounds like a lot for a family SUV. In reality, it is – the BMW makes do with just 282bhp, yet still feels really quick off the mark.

The 0-62mph sprint takes 6.8 seconds, which should be plenty fast enough for most. The power delivery is instant, like in so many electric cars, so in everyday driving it feels far quicker than that figure suggests. In truth – even without the all-wheel-drive systems of its rivals – there’s little that’ll beat the BMW in a traffic-light drag race.

Don’t be put off by the iX3’s 112mph top speed, either. Unless you commute via the German autobahn, or regularly take your car to the race track, we reckon that’ll prove plenty. Besides, spend too much time at these speeds and you’ll see your projected range drop like a stone.

Handling

Despite the fact that the iX3 is based on a platform designed for a petrol and diesel-engined model – rather than specific electric-car underpinnings – the BMW does a good job of masking its weight. In fact, aside from the Jaguar I-Pace (which uses an electric-specific platform), it’s the sharpest-driving battery-powered SUV on sale.

Unlike its four-wheel drive rivals, the iX3 is only rear-wheel drive. While this might put some people off, it shouldn’t; the electric X3 feels planted and secure – even on our wet and murky December drive. There’s perhaps a fraction less front end grip than you might find in a Mercedes EQC, but you’ll only notice this during hard cornering.

Otherwise, the iX3 feels quick, quiet and agile, with plenty of power on tap. The ride is a little firm, especially if you set the adaptive dampers to their stiffest Sport setting; we’d leave these well alone as there’s plenty of composure and control in Comfort mode. If you like, you can set up an Individual configuration, allowing you access to the sharpest throttle response, but the softest suspension.

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