BMW iX3 Review 2024

Written by Andrew Brady

8/10
heycar ratingImpressive EV in SUV package
  • 2021
  • SUV
  • EV

Quick overview

Pros

  • Enjoyable to drive
  • Loaded with clever technology
  • Feels every bit as premium as you'd expect

Cons

  • It's not as quick as you'd think
  • Uncomfortable ride on bumpy roads
  • Priced from around £60,000 (and don't expect any discounts)

Overall verdict on the BMW iX3

"The BMW iX3 is a superbly well-rounded electric SUV. It's just as practical as a standard X3, while its rather conventional appearance will appeal to buyers who don't want to shout about their eco-credentials. Its interior is exceptionally well-finished and it's a lot of fun to drive. It's cheap to run, too, even if the £65,000-plus price tag might initially be hard to stomach."

BMW iX3 Review 2024: front

Before we get into our full BMW iX3 review, let's look at the brand's history with electric vehicles. Remember the BMW i3? That was the German car maker's first foray into electric cars. It was bonkers yet brilliant, with weird doors and an ultra-lightweight carbon fibre construction. You could even get one with a tiny petrol engine to charge the battery and power the electric motor.


That was launched in 2013 and, even today (against a much busier EV market), it still looks like it's from the future. We still rate it as one of the best electric cars going. But buyers weren't totally convinced and it sold in relatively small numbers. That might explain why BMW's was a little cautious about wading back into electric car territory until quite recently.


The BMW iX3 is a more conservative effort than the i3 was at the time. It's based on the BMW X3, a family-sized SUV that rivals the Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and Mercedes-Benz GLC


Cosmetically, you'll be hard-pushed to tell the difference from the iX3 and the X3: the trademark BMW kidney grilles are filled in, while the alloy wheels are a little more aerodynamic. There are some blue highlights on the BMW iX3, too – mainly around the front grilles. This was all refreshed very gently in 2021, which was curiously early into the iX3's life.


There aren't any great changes inside, either. But when the cabin is as impressive as the X3's, few buyers are going to find that disappointing. It's incredibly well finished with plush materials and lots of well-thought-through features – although fans of the minimalist approach would be better looking at a Tesla Model X.  


As you'd expect for a premium SUV with a list price of around £65,000, there's loads of kit as standard. The BMW iX3 is initially available in just two models: the Premier Edition and Premier Edition Pro. That then changed to M Sport and M Sport Pro models in the second half of 2021 at the same time as the iX3's mild facelift. BMW offers a range of four metallic body colours (black, white, blue or grey) and there are 19-inch wheels for the M Sport or 20-inch alloys for the M Sport Pro, along with an automatic tailgate, adaptive suspension and panoramic sunroof.  


Ambient lighting and leather seats (with electric adjustment) are standard inside, as well as the excellent BMW Live Cockpit Professional media system. This includes a 12.3-inch (originally a 10.25-inch screen) media system in the centre of the dashboard and matching 12.3-inch digital dials behind the steering wheel.


It's one of our favourite infotainment setups on the market thanks to its quick responses, intuitive menu layouts, and the multitude of ways it can be operated. It doesn't rely on the touchscreen system - you can also use the various buttons on the dash, a rotary controller on the centre console or even BMW's very own voice-activated personal assistant - just say 'Hey, BMW' and it will respond.


A lot of buyers will opt for the BMW iX3 M Sport Pro which adds a premium sound system, a head-up display and BMW's showy gesture control feature. It also comes with weird (but kinda cool) sound effects, along with Parking Assistant Plus and automatic high-beam assist.


So what about the BMW iX3's electric credentials? There's obviously no petrol or diesel engine – instead, you'll find an 80kWh battery powering an electric motor on the rear axle. BMW tends to quote this as 286PS, which makes it easier to compare with the petrol and diesel models. Officially, it can cover up to 292 miles between charges. That's roughly equivalent to driving from Newcastle to London in one go – and who'd want to travel further than that without stopping for a Greggs?


Find a suitable rapid charger and the BMW iX3 can be charged from empty to 80% in just over half an hour. BMW claims that 62 miles can be added to its range in just 10 minutes, while a 7kW wallbox (the kind you'd have at home) ought to be able to charge the iX3 overnight (although exact figures are yet to be confirmed).


The BMW iX3 easy and indeed fun to drive, with that electric motor providing plenty of punch from the second you mash the throttle to the floor. It's not the quickest electric car on the market (0-62mph acceleration takes 6.8 seconds) but it's rapid enough to join a motorway without any major concerns. It's fun to drive, too, with agile handling and plenty of grip – even with power only going to the rear wheels.


A downside is the BMW iX3's firm ride. Like a lot of electric vehicles, it struggles to hide its fairly bulky weight. While it remains composed in corners, it crashes around over bumpy road surfaces. It's particularly noticeable when you select sport mode - we'd suggest avoiding that.


The BMW iX3 is just an X3 with batteries and an electric motor. But when the standard car is such a brilliant family SUV with loads of space and an impeccable cabin, that's not a bad thing, making the BMW iX3 one of the best electric SUVs going.


Looking for a used car for sale? We've got 100s of BMW Approved Used Cars for Sale for you to choose from, including a wide range of BMW iX3 cars for sale.

If you're in the market for a premium electric car and an SUV appeals, the BMW iX3 is a brilliant choice. It's just as desirable as the regular BMW X3, offering little in the way of compromise, while its 292-mile range should be enough for all but the longest-distance drivers.

The line-up's pretty limited in the first instance. There's only one battery size available and two trim levels: M Sport or M Sport Pro if you buy new, though the car was launched in Premier Edition and Premier Edition Pro trims. 


We reckon the majority of buyers will fork out the extra £3000 for the top-spec model as it brings with it a number of desirable features including the head-up display, Harman Kardon surround sound, Gesture Control system,  Parking Assistant Plus, automatic high beam, Comfort access and lumbar support. That said, if you're on a marginally tighter budget, we doubt you'll find the Premier Edition lacking.  

BMW's a bit late to the electric SUV market (as we go into more detail in our guide to BMW electric cars). The Audi e-tron is an ultra-cool, tech-fest of an electric SUV that can't travel as far between charges as the iX3 but has a superb interior. That's not forgetting the newer Audi Q4 e-tron, while the Mercedes-Benz EQC is a luxurious choice with impressive performance. The Jaguar I-Pace should be on your radar if you're looking for an electric SUV that's great to drive. 


Of course, anyone considering a premium electric vehicle is also likely to have a Tesla on their shortlist. The upcoming Tesla Model Y will be the closest alternative to a BMW iX3 but the Model 3, Model S and Model X are also worth a look.

Comfort and design: BMW iX3 interior

"The BMW iX3's cabin won't come as a shock to anyone who's spent any time in a conventional X3. It's instantly comfortable and feels totally premium, while there's space for all the family."

BMW iX3 Review 2024: interior

While rivals have futuristic interiors with button-free dashboards and everything controlled via a huge, portrait media system, the BMW iX3 is surprisingly analogue in its approach. There are plenty of buttons spread across the centre console, while the only thing setting it apart from the standard X3 is a flash of blue trim here and there.


Sure, it's much more conventional than a Tesla's cabin, but it's also extremely logically laid out and not at all daunting to use. The longer you spend with it, the more you'll appreciate how cleverly thought-out it is.


The BMW iX3's seats feel very supportive from the moment you slide into them. They're positioned fairly high up, giving you that invincible SUV feel and leather trim (in a choice of three colours) is standard on both models. Heated front seats are included across the range although you'll have to upgrade to the M Sport (or the Premier Edition Pro when buying used) for adjustable lumbar support. That seems a little tight on a car as pricey as this.


Further highlights of the Pro versions of the iX3 include a head-up display which is a nice-to-have rather than essential feature, while BMW's Comfort Access is a fancy way of saying it has keyless entry and start. If you think that's impressive, you'll be surprised to hear about the brand's digital key. It allows you to use your iPhone (Android devices aren't yet compatible) as the car's key. You can even share the digital key with others and set certain restrictions (the top speed of the car or the volume of the sound system, for example).

While the BMW iX3's cabin might not look particularly special, it feels impeccably finished. Just like the standard car, it's awash with plush materials and squishy finishes that feel like they'll last a lifetime. It's certainly up there with the Mercedes-Benz EQC and the Audi e-tron in terms of interior quality.


All the controls feel fairly robust – even flicking the indicator stalk gives off a made-to-last vibe (insert joke about BMW drivers here). From the climate control dials to the air vents and glove box handle, everything you touch feels totally premium.


Of course, it helps that both iX3 models are well-equipped. There isn't really an entry-level model. The standard Vernasca leather is actual, genuine leather (rather than a fake leather-like material which is surprisingly common in premium cars), while all iX3 models come with ambient lighting and a dash wrapped in synthetic leather.

The BMW iX3 comes as standard with the brand's latest media system, known as the BMW Live Cockpit Professional. This consists of a 12.3-inch central infotainment display as well as a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. Early iX3s came with a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, which is smaller but hardly postage stamp in its dimensions.


It's a brilliantly intuitive system to use. Responses are quick, graphics are sharp and it's easy to navigate. What more could you ask for? We also like that there are many ways to operate it. You don't need to awkwardly lean forwards and use the touchscreen system (which can be a nightmare on the move). The rotary iDrive controller between the front seats makes inputting destinations into the nav a piece of cake, while buttons on the steering wheel allow you to do things like skip tracks or turn up the volume.


Top-spec models get BMW's gesture control system. This lets you control the audio system by waving your hands about in front of the infotainment screen. It's a bit gimmicky, really. And then there's voice control. Just like Alexa or Siri, you can control certain features of the car by saying 'Hey BMW'. It doesn't work particularly well in our experience but maybe, with time, it will get used to your accent and become more responsive.


Of course, if you wish to bypass the car's in-built infotainment features, smartphone integration is standard. This features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, meaning you can mirror functions from your phone onto the media display. It works really well and it's wireless, too - while a wireless phone charger will keep your mobile topped up with juice.

If you're in the market for an electric car with a big boot, the iX3 should place a big tick in that box. It might have 40 litres less luggage room than the standard X3 but you're only going to notice the difference if you compare them side-by-side. It's actually got a slightly bigger boot than the plug-in hybrid xDrive30e.


As it's usefully square in shape, the boot can comfortably accommodate golf clubs or a large buggy. Access is easy, with a wide opening and an electric tailgate as standard (that will make your life a lot easier when juggling shopping bags or a small child).  If you need more space, the rear seats split 40/20/40 and fold flat, leaving plenty of space for transporting bulky items. 


There's loads of space inside for all the family, too. You'll get few complaints from the back: there's head and legroom aplenty, although it's a bit of a tight squeeze for three adults. In the front, even the tallest of adults should feel pretty comfortable. Head and legroom is impressive while stowage space is also pretty generous, with a decent glove box and some generous door bins.


In terms of exterior dimensions, the BMW iX3 is 4734mm long, 1891mm wide and 1668mm high.

Handling and ride quality: What is the BMW iX3 like to drive?

"The BMW iX3 is more fun to drive than competitors thanks to its rear-wheel-drive setup and eager steering. A trade-off is the firm ride, especially in Sport mode."

BMW iX3 Review 2024: driving dynamic

There was a time when BMW marketed itself as maker of 'the ultimate driving machine'. Even in the age of electric cars and SUVs, it continues to place more importance on how enjoyable a car is to drive than a lot of competitors. As such, the BMW iX3 will appeal to those of us who actually enjoy driving rather than simply want a car to travel from A to B.


Unlike most of its competitors, the BMW iX3's electric motor powers the rear wheels only. The Audi e-tron and Mercedes-Benz EQC both use two such motors – one at each axle – making them four-wheel drive. This means that the iX3 feels considerably more eager to turn into corners, helped by the ultra-quick steering. It's not quite as fun to drive as the Jaguar I-Pace but it's not far off.


Being rear-wheel drive, it's useless off-road, of course  – not helped by weighing a considerable 2185kg (around 400kg more than the equivalent petrol model). On the road, though, you'd be surprised by how much grip the BMW iX3 has. Even in the wet, it remains composed and you have to be really heavy with the throttle when pulling out of a junction to upset the traction control.


It doesn't lean too much in the corners either, certainly by SUV standards. There has to be a compromise somewhere, though, and that's the ride quality. Adaptive suspension is fitted as standard – meaning you can make it more or less comfortable depending on your preference. In Sport mode it's particularly harsh, causing potholes to thwack through the cabin, so that's best left untouched.


All BMW iX3 models use the same 80kW (or 286PS as BMW describes it) electric motor which produces 400Nm of torque. The motor drives the rear axle via a single-speed gearbox – this operates just like the automatic gearbox in any other BMW. There's a gear shifter positioned on the centre console, allowing you to select reverse/neutral/drive, and a button for park. Moving the shifter to the left increases the regenerative braking to the point that it will slow down dramatically as soon as you lift off the accelerator.


There's also a clever adaptive recuperation system which uses navigation data to increase or decrease the amount of regenerative braking. When approaching a junction, for example, the system increases the braking as soon as you lift off the throttle. On an open road, it decreases the amount of regen to allow the car to coast freely when you lift off.


As with most electric vehicles, the BMW iX3 feels pretty nippy around town and it can more than hold its own on national speed limit roads. Accelerating to 62mph takes 6.8 seconds is faster than a standard X3 xDrive20i but a long way from being Tesla-beating. There's enough poke for overtaking but it's not going to shove your passengers back in their seats.

The BMW iX3 can officially travel for up to 292 miles before needing a top-up of electricity. That puts it in line with rivals like the Mercedes-Benz EQC, Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron, although some more affordable electric cars can travel further (the Tesla Model 3 Long Range or Volkswagen ID.3 Tour, for example).


While this figure should be achievable in the right conditions, don't expect to regularly drive that far between charges. Just like a petrol or diesel car, it's very dependent on a range of factors – from how it's driven to the weather conditions. Driving at motorway speeds with the heated seats, lights and windscreen wipers on will impact the range. Town use, using a lot of regenerative braking, and using the accelerator pedal gently will see it travel further before running out of power.

One of the coolest (if not weirdest) features of the BMW iX3 is its soundtrack. M Sport Pro and the earlier Premier Edition Pro models come with BMW's Iconic Sounds feature, which, in BMW's words, "provides acoustic feedback to enrich the electric driving experience by lending it added emotional depth." Quite.


It's not loud enough to take away from the relaxing ambience we're used to from electric cars, although it does get noisier if you select Sport mode. There's even a short sound composition when you first start up the car. This has, amazingly, been co-developed by BMW's sound engineers in partnership with German film score composer Hans Zimmer (of Gladiator fame).


Gimmicky sounds aside, the BMW iX3 is a very refined SUV. As you'd expect from a £65,000 BMW, you're unlikely to notice any rattles inside the cabin and it does a good job of drowning out any wind or road noise (even with the 20-inch alloy wheels).

The standard BMW X3 is a very safe car, achieving a maximum five-star safety rating following official Euro NCAP crash tests. We'd expect the electric iX3 to mirror this, helped by a long list of driver-assist safety tech.


For the full complement of driver assistance features, look for a top-spec BMW iX3 M Sport Pro. This comes with the Parking Assistant Plus pack, which consists of a reversing camera, Active Park Distance Control (which'll apply the brakes if it detects an impending collision during a reversing manoeuvre), and a Parking and reversing Assistance and Surround View system with Remote 3D View which essentially gives you a bird's eye view of the car when parking. 


There's also a new Driver Recorder feature will use the various cameras positioned around the vehicle and can save footage - ideal if you want to find out who scraped your car while it was parked, for example.

Charging times: how much does it cost to charge the BMW iX3?

"The BMW iX3 uses an 80kWh battery which provides a maximum range of 292 miles according to WLTP fuel economy tests."

BMW iX3 Review 2024: side profile

If you're charging the BMW iX3 at home, the cost will depend on your electricity tariff. Reckon on around £20 for a full charge from near empty and you're on the right track for the iX3.


When you're out and about, you'll pay a bit more to top up your BMW iX3. The fastest, most convenient chargers will cost up to 75p per kWh – meaning charging from 10% to 80% capacity could cost you up to around £40. That sounds expensive but compare it to the cost of petrol or diesel – you pay a premium for filling up at an ultra-convenient motorway service station. Shop around and you'll pay considerably less.


If you do find a charger with an output of up to 150kW, the iX3's high-voltage battery can be charged from 0 to 80% in a little over half an hour. BMW says that 62 miles can be added to the iX3's range in just 10 minutes.

BMW generally has a very good reputation for reliability, consistently putting in a good showing in the HonestJohn.co.uk Satisfaction Index. With the BMW iX3, we're yet to hear of any reliability issues with it – while electric cars are often more dependable than their petrol or diesel counterparts.

The BMW iX3 sits in Group 44 for insurance, which is broadly in-line with rivals like the Mercedes-Benz EQC and Jaguar I-Pace. The iX3's complexity and premium badge (not to mention relatively high list price) might mean it's fairly costly to insure. As ever, it's worth shopping around for insurance quotes.

As an electric vehicle without any tailpipe CO2 emissions, the base rate for the annual car tax of an iX3 will be £0. Don't get excited just yet - as the iX3 has a list price of more than £40,000, it will be hit with a £410/year premium car tax for five years (from the second time the car is taxed). After that, it's free.

How much should you be paying for a BMW iX3?

"The BMW iX3 starts from £65,160 for the M Sport model and a further £3000 for the M Sport Pro. That's a lot of money compared to a standard BMW X3 or more mainstream electric vehicles, but it's comparable to rivals like the Audi e-tron and Mercedes-Benz EQC."

BMW iX3 Review 2024: driving dynamic

If you want to save a few quid (actually, quite a lot), then look to a nearly new iX3 with less than 3000 miles on the clock. We found several for £17,000 less than the original list price. That's got to be worth it.

For an older iX3, a three-year old car can be found for £31,000 with 20,000 miles on the clock.

The BMW iX3 is available in two trim levels in the UK. These are badged the M Sport and M Sport Pro, and they took over from the Premier Edition and Premier Edition Pro when BMW updated the iX3 in 2021.


BMW iX3 Premier Edition models come with metallic paint and 20-inch black alloy wheels, while the inside features leather seats (heated in the front), ambient lighting and BMW Live Cockpit Professional. Driving Assistant Professional and Parking Assistant are both standard, as well as adaptive LED headlights and adaptive suspension.  There's an automatic tailgate, too, as well as a panoramic sunroof.


The major difference between this and the current M Sport is the new car sits in 19-inch wheel as standard.


The BMW iX3 M Sport Pro (and the Premier Edition Pro) adds Comfort Access, acoustic glazing and lumbar support. The fancy Iconic Electric Sound is standard, as well as Automatic High Beam Assist and Parking Assistant Plus. There's a head-up display, Harman Kardon surround sound and BMW's Gesture Control system.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Yes, the BMW iX3 is an electric car. It's powered by a 286PS electric motor combined with an 80kWh battery pack.
The BMW iX3 can cover up to 292 miles between charges according to official WLTP tests - this is for the M Sport model. The M Sport Pro has a max range of up to 288 miles. It can charge at a rate of up to 150kW so, when paired with a suitable charger, the high-voltage battery can be charged from 0 to 80% of its capacity in around 34 minutes. BMW says that 62 miles can be added to the iX3's range in just 10 minutes.
The BMW iX3 looks quite conventional in its design, similar to the X3 on which it's based. Its appearance doesn't divide opinion in the same way as the BMW iX electric SUV.

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