BMW iX3 in the test: does the “normal” electric SUV do better?

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A very good, very well thought-out X3 that doesn't quite keep its word when it comes to range

BMW iX3 in the test: does the "normal" electric SUV do better?-normal

What is that?

Of course it had to be an SUV. Everything is kind of an SUV these days. And if you are already bringing your first "mass-produced" electric car onto the market, then it is entirely plausible that you are placing it in the lowest-risk segment.

One X3 with electric drive, not a completely new model like VW with its ID.3 has made.

BMW's bestsellers are now available as gasoline, diesel, plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars. The iX3 is something like the "ordinary" electric car. The packaging is taken over by the other X3 derivatives. This not only offers advantages.

No changes to the body and interior also mean: No additional trunk or massively increased space.

There is no such thing as a brutal dual-motor all-wheel-drive version that accelerates exotic supercars in rows and as YouTube-effective as possible. We're getting a machine and rear-wheel drive. The battery is also not huge with usable 74 kWh. It also hangs very far down in the car. Good for the center of gravity, bad for a typical SUV ground clearance.

But the iX3 shouldn't even mimic the over-exciting electro poser. It is the e-car for people who are primarily looking for a practical car and who also like the "E".

He also benefits from BMW's pioneering work in the field of e-mobility. The gentlemen now have a good idea what they are doing and can offer an overall package that – at least on paper – is much more efficient and ecological than the competition.

Seven years after BMW's first e-car i3, there is now the "fifth generation eDrive Technology". The drive and battery development takes place in-house. The motor, a so-called current-excited synchronous machine, has 30 percent more energy density than that of the i3 and, according to BMW, has an efficiency of 93 percent (a combustion engine is around 40 percent).

The electric motor works without magnets and can be produced without the use of rare earths. It has an output of 210 kW (286 hp) and 400 Nm of torque. The power is transmitted to the rear wheels via an automatic input. It goes from 0-100 km / h in 6.8 seconds, with a maximum of 180 km / h.

The battery may not be the largest, but the WLTP range of 460 kilometers is a real announcement. The storage system has 20 percent more energy density and uses 66 percent less cobalt than before. In addition, it can be charged super quickly, because DC stations can go up to 150 kW. 0-80 percent only takes 34 minutes. A range of 100 kilometers should be fed in in 10 minutes.

BMW also wants to reassure the skeptics who see the carbon footprint of e-cars over their entire life cycle as a major problem. If you consider raw material procurement, supply chain, production, use phase and recycling, it is significantly lower here than with an X3 xDrive20d: by more than 30 percent when using electricity from the European electricity mix during the use phase. And by around 60 percent if only green electricity is used.

"The iX3 is of course not the e-power house á la Tesla, but the seamless punch with the slightest pressure on the accelerator is still relatively impressive."

You can visually recognize the iX3 by its new aprons and the lack of a front grille and exhaust. The electric blue color accents come optional. However, the tricky aero bikes are always there. They save 15 percent weight, are 5 percent more aerodynamic and should provide 10 km more range alone.

Deliveries will start at the end of January 2021 and at prices from 66,300 euros. You can deduct a maximum of EUR 7,500 combined funding from this. For comparison: the 360 ​​hp gasoline engine X3 M40i costs from 69,210 euros.

How is he driving?

More normal than pretty much any other electric car I've driven so far. Depending on how big the electricity nerd you are, you'll find this a good or a bad thing. I found it to be quite comfortable.

The iX3 is of course not the e-power house á la Tesla, but the seamless punch with the slightest pressure on the accelerator is still relatively impressive. At the top, the feeling weakens a little. A look at the speedometer quickly reveals that very serious figures are quickly at the start.

A pretty clever tool is the adaptive recuperation, which works with signals from the navigation system (for approaching intersections, tighter bends and speed limits) and the radar sensors (for the traffic in front of you). When you take your foot off the accelerator, the level of recuperation is automatically selected so that you are braked as gently as possible towards the new target speed. If you take your foot off the gas very early, the system allows efficient sailing.

In other words: Depending on the situation, lifting the accelerator pedal has completely different effects and you really have to get used to it. But I assume that after a while you can come to terms with it pretty well, because the system makes a smart and trustworthy impression overall. There is also the option of selecting a gentle and a strong recuperation.

BMW iX3 in the test: does the "normal" electric SUV do better?-normal

The sound strategy for the iX3 developed with Hollywood sound legend Hans Zimmer is very cool. In comfort mode, the acceleration is acoustically more subtle and quite normal. In Sport mode, however, the car produces a rather over-the-top sci-fi sound that increases the harder you press the pedal.

If you don't want to feel like you're chasing through the latest Star Wars flick in a tie fighter, then you can turn off the cinematic carpet of noise. The whole thing doesn't really convey a real feeling for speed anyway.

Is the iX3 then fun?

Well, when it comes to driving dynamics, the iX3 feels like it's on its very own planet. That is to be understood positively. For the most part, at least. You will never be left in the dark about the fact that you are sitting here in a BMW. And yet so much feels so different.

It may sound like a paradox, but the electric X3 is the most dynamic "unsporting" car that I have probably ever driven. Just imagine you have a vehicle up to your belt that moves like an SUV. Underneath, however, the low weight of the batteries ensures road holding that is difficult to grasp. Without batting an eyelid, this car reaches cornering speeds that seem completely absurd for this type of vehicle.

And even the steering – with its steering wheel rim, which is pleasantly thin by BMW standards – brings a lot of feedback and looks surprisingly round overall.

However, the whole thing is not particularly playful. You really don't notice anything from the rear-wheel drive layout. The iX3 is ultra stable and extremely high traction. The standard adaptive chassis doesn't look really tight, just very well balanced.

What about the range?

Basically, what BMW says is true. The iX3 is certainly one of the most efficient e-cars out there, especially for its size. After a 130-kilometer-long, not really fast test route, which mainly comprised country roads and a little freeway, the on-board computer showed a power consumption of 18.1 kWh per 100 kilometers. For an SUV that weighs almost 2.3 tons, that's quite a sensation.

The remaining range was 240 kilometers, which means I would have covered about 370 kilometers in total. That is a bit far away from the 460 kilometers that should be possible according to the WLTP. But if the route is supplemented by more city traffic and a correspondingly more intensive recuperation, things will probably look a little different.

How is he inside?

Here you can of course notice that the iX3 does not use an electronic platform specially created for it. One of the great advantages of this – an unusually large amount of space – is missing here. Like the Mercedes EQC the iX3 in the rear is also not particularly lush. It's just like a normal X3 and not like a Jaguar I-Pace. On the other hand, the trunk with 510 to 1,560 liters is absolutely impressive.

The cockpit itself offers no surprises and is just as easy to use as any other X3. The instrument display has just been expanded to include one or the other electrical-specific display. You can also call up various data on your journey and your own efficiency on the infotainment screen.

The seats, seating position and material quality are convincing.

Conclusion: 8/10

With the new iX3, BMW has taken a relatively pragmatic approach for its first electric car since 2013. With the mid-range SUV, one relies on the greatest possible normality and efficiency. No wild acceleration orgies, no monstrous batteries, no great getting used to. And it works out to a large extent.

Same technology, more range! This is how it continues at BMW electrically

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Compared to the Mercedes EQC, the iX3 looks like the more sophisticated overall package. It's absolutely fast enough, drives entertaining and seems to need surprisingly little power for its size. In terms of price, the whole thing is also okay considering the good standard equipment.

Nonetheless, almost 70,000 euros is of course a lot of money. Next year, not only will the iX3 be launched, but also other, much cheaper electric crossovers such as the VW ID.4, the Nissan Aryia or the Ford Mustang Mach-E. It will be exciting to see which attributes are really important to electric car buyers.

BMW iX3

engine Current-excited synchronous machine

battery Lithium Ion Battery; 74 kWh

drive Rear wheel drive

Gear type 1-speed automatic

power 210 kW (286 hp) at 6,000 rpm

Max. Torque 400 Nm

Acceleration 0-100 km / h 6.8 seconds

Top speed 180 km / h (electronically limited)

Empty weight 2,260 kg

Trunk volume 510-1,560 liters

Payload 540 kg

Electric range WLTP: 460 km; in the test: approx. 380 km

Charging port AC 7.4 kW / AC 11 kW / DC 150 kW

Charging time – / 07:30 h (100%) / 00:34 h (80%)

Base price 66,300 euros (excluding 7,500 euros funding)

Market launch End of January 2021

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