Instead of building a brand new EV, BMW has done something a little different with the 2022 iX3 M Sport, taking an existing combustion engine model and evolving it into a fully electric variant. We can see the positives in this approach.
Among them is the fact that making the switch to an EV can seem like a daunting leap into the unknown for a new car buyer. But with an established platform, and familiar looks, the iX3 bridges that gap. It almost normalises that decision down to just a powertrain preference.
Along with that choice comes a high level of standard equipment including an M Sport package, adaptive suspension, active cruise control and parking assist.
Interior & Technology
Leather upholstery, a Harman Kardon 16-speaker audio system and a full-length glass roof feature. It’s a normal, very well equipped X3. There’s a fully digital instrument cluster, accompanied by a 12.3-inch infotainment display in the centre dash.
Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is present, and the whole system is easy to use, with the menus and information well laid out. There’s a variety of engagement options, including the traditional iDrive controller.
You can of course also use the touchscreen, hand gestures, or the “Hello BMW” voice control. A head-up display shows current speed, the road’s speed limit with overspeed warning, and summarised GPS navigation.
This alone is worth the price of admission, with one colleague going so far as to question their pending Tesla Model 3 order.
On the outside, there are subtle differences compared to the standard X3, bringing the iX3 in line with BMW’s electric vehicle styling language. Blue highlights adorn the front bumper, headlights, and rear diffuser. The large BMW kidney grill has a closed-off look, but also contains active air vents.
The 20-inch aerodynamic alloys, with sharp styling and contrasting colours, attract attention.
With the electric motor placed in the rear, the iX3 loses around 40-litres from the boot compared to the standard petrol SUV, but that still leaves a competitive 510-litre capacity, expanding to 1,560-litres with the rear seats lowered.
We would have liked to have seen the space under the bonnet utilised for extra storage, but instead we find a faux engine cover, which is kind of odd. That aside, a host of charging cables and adapters are also stashed in the boot.
We were very thankful for the addition of these items when we rocked up to charger at the local Woolies. Instead of providing a cable, it was simply a socket in the wall, which we were able to plug into. There we were a few confused EV owners wondering how we connected the iX3.
Power and driving experience
The iX3’s single electric motor produces 210kW and 400Nm, giving it a 0-100km/h time of 6.8 seconds. That may not sound exciting against some of the BMW EV’s dual motor rivals, but we still had the electric experience of being pinned hard into our seats from take-off.
Acceleration only falls behind as you near triple digits on the speedo. Claimed range for the 2022 BMW iX3 SUV is 460km. With our spirited driving, extensive use of the infotainment and air-conditioning, and Sydney’s start stop traffic, we still achieved a respectable 380km.
It tips the scales at 2180kg, which sounds alarming for a mid-sized SUV, but if we hadn’t read that on the BMW website, we’d have been none the wiser. It simply doesn’t feel heavy. The steering is feather light, yet still gives plenty of feedback to the driver too.
This is in no doubt thanks to the iX3 having a slightly more rear-bias weight distribution and a rear-wheel drive setup (no all-wheel drive option is available with the iX3). On the road, it can power into the corners with confidence, and easily shift direction on a whim.
The iX3 soaks up bumps and road surfaces exceptionally well for an SUV on 20-inch wheels. Even the harshest potholes didn’t upset it. Bumps are heard more than felt, and yet that’s not to say there are any issues with sound isolation in the cabin.
On the notion of sound, we never thought we’d be praising the noise of an EV, but here we are. Called BMW IconicSounds (co-created by Hans Zimmer and Renzo Vitale) pressing the Start button sounds like you’re powering up the warp drives on the Starship Enterprise.
The electric tone while driving is so mesmerising, that this reviewer found himself lowering the windows while pacing around carparks to hear it both inside the cabin and projected outside the vehicle.
Those sounds increase in volume depending on driving mode, but thankfully it can also be manually set via the infotainment menus. We had our sounds always set to Performance, simply because it was cool.
Regenerative braking intensity can be set to three different levels, or adaptive to help your cause. On a 150kW fast charger, the iX3’s battery can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent in little over half an hour.
At home, with a BMW Wallbox charging station, 0 to 100 per cent battery can be reached in 7 hours and 30 minutes.
The 2022 BMW iX3 represents a compelling if somewhat odd offering. Yes, it misses out on the insane performance of dual motor EVs and the radical stylings of dedicated electric models, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
By taking the familiar and established platform of the X3, the iX3 offers an alternative that already has its foundations set and builds on that with the flair of EV technology. Sitting towards the top end of the range, it’s priced at $114,900 plus on-roads.
Our test vehicle was provided by BMW Australia. To find out more about the 2022 BMW iX3 M Sport, contact your local BMW dealer. You can read more on Exhaust Notes Australia.