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Published date: April 20, 2023

BMW iX3: Driving Impressions & Review

BMW iX3: Driving Impressions & Review

Meet the BMW iX3! Our EV expert PJ gives his thoughts on what it’s like to drive the electric car that BMW USA does not want you to have.

The BMW iX3 in black
Table of contents

What’s it like to drive the BMW iX3?

The BMW iX3 is a fully electric version of BMW’s X3 Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV). It is built on the CLAR platform, denoting its cluster architecture, and designed to handle full internal combustion, hybrid and electric variants. Since this model is not built on a dedicated EV platform, it does have its compromises. For example, the rear seating area has the vestige of a transmission tunnel running through it, even though this is no longer necessary. This is unlike the BMW i3 hatchback, which benefits from a flat floor, as it was designed as an EV from the outset.

In terms of driving character, the BMW iX3 enjoys smooth power delivery, a well-sorted powertrain, and punchy acceleration. Its electric steering is typical for BMW: reasonably direct (if a little numb), and lacking in feel.

Which features can I find in the BMW iX3?

The BMW iX3 is equipped with a full panoramic sunroof, and has an interior that is more or less akin to the current (arguably previous generation) of BMW vehicles. This renders it highly functional, at the cost of visual flourish. However, it does incorporate some modern touches, such as the iDrive 7 infotainment system. In the same vein, purists are sure to enjoy the dedicated digital instrument cluster. Overall, the interior space is much more traditional compared to the iX model, that of which redefines expectations from BMW interiors. It’s also generously equipped with a Harman/Kardon surround sound system, head-up display and M Sport exterior aerodynamics package.

From a safety perspective, the iX3 includes a comprehensive safety suite, comprising Frontal Collision Warning, Side Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Change Warning. The BMW iX3 also offers advanced Level 2 driver assistance, which allows it to take over in traffic jams or travel in stop-and-go traffic completely autonomously. In such circumstances, all that the driver needs to do is to hold the steering wheel and pay attention to road conditions.

Behind the wheel, some drivers find the iX3’s “B” mode to feel a bit harsh. Admittedly, this one-pedal driving functionality delivers a sharp sensation of deceleration, especially when compared to the same mode in some competitor vehicles. However, it cannot hold a candle to Tesla’s regenerative braking, which will swiftly bring the car to a complete stop. Notably, there is no “creep” when using “B” Mode. Hence, after coming to a stop, there is no need to manually press the brake pedal, as the iX3 will handle this automatically.

Just like its interior space, the exterior design of the iX3 emanates the traditional BMW aesthetic. Defined body lines underscore chiseled proportions, while the aggressive M Sport package only enhances the vehicle’s on-road presence. As a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV), the iX3 also emphasizes a “go-anywhere” appearance,  encapsulated by its off-road styling accents and larger wheels. The lack of cutting-edge spectacle is intentional, as the point of the iX3 is for it to ease a traditional BMW driver’s transition to electric.

Why is the BMW iX3 not offered in the U.S.?

While the internal combustion and hybridized variants of the BMW X3 are produced  in North America, there are two main reasons why the fully-electric iX3 is not currently being offered in the U.S. The first reason is its manufacturing location. Currently, the model is being built at BMW’s Chinese manufacturing location in Shenyang, PRC. This immediately renders the iX3 ineligible for the federal Clean Vehicle Credit, while also subjecting it to additional import tariffs, if sold in the U.S. Additionally, American consumers generally hold negative perceptions towards Chinese-made products. Importantly, however, the iX3’s interior fit-and-finish is completely in line with the high quality expectations typically associated with BMW, regardless of its build location.

Another reason for why the BMW iX3 is not sold in the U.S. is its available drivetrains. Currently, this model is only offered in a Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) configuration, without the option for All Wheel Drive (AWD). Buyers in the Northeast and the Midwest regions of the U.S. tend to gravitate to AWD cars, because of the flexibility that they offer in wintry weather conditions.

Although this is more speculative, the BMW iX3 pales in comparison to the recently released iX SAV. The iX introduces not only a dedicated EV platform, but also the latest cabin technology, and significantly greater driving range. We contend that BMW has chosen to put its best foot forward in the saturated U.S. market, by bringing only its most complete and thoroughly thought-out product for our consumption.

So, are Americans missing out? Probably not. Destined from the start to be an EV, the vastly superior iX is already on sale here. Nevertheless, it would be nice to have another option in the premium electric crossover segment, which is only increasing in popularity. The Tesla Model Y, for example, is vying for market domination in this size class. In turn, the BMW iX3 could serve as a legitimate competitor to the Long Range Model Y, which was released with revolutionary 4680 cells. That model was priced at $49,990 at the time of filming, and at the time of publishing, now retails for $46,990. Furthermore, at the time of writing, all trim levels of the Model Y are fully eligible for the Clean Vehicle Credit.

Battery Specs for the BMW iX3

What about the battery? The BMW iX3 boasts the following capabilities:

  • Range: 281-286 mi (WLTP)
  • Battery size: 73.8 kWh
  • Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 6.8 seconds

Are you further along your EV journey?

Maybe you’re further along your transition to climate neutrality, and are already thinking of purchasing a fully electric car. Lectrium can help you find the perfect ride. Take our EV quiz and browse through our EV car pages to get in depth information on the electric car models available in the U.S. today. You can even find EVs being sold near you.

Lectrium also provides EV chargers and installation services for your home. Check out our charger recommendations and take our installation survey to get a quote today.

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