(Pocket-lint) - BMW has been talking about launching an electric SUV for a number of years. Dubbed the BMW iX3, it can easily be seen as the fusion point between the company's first electric car the i3 - of which BMW sold over 180,000 models - and one of its most popular, the X3 SUV.
It lands in that crossover sweet spot, a compact SUV, capable of seating the whole family, but still practical enough for urban driving. Having a full electric powertrain sweetens the deal, meaning that you can now get the BMX X3 in a full range of options - petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric.
To look at, the BMW iX3 is essentially the same design as the X3, losing some of the concept highlights prior to launch to be a lot more conventional on the road. The closed grille remains, however, and the news nose is less about gulping in air and more about looking smart.
Around the rear there's a new tail too; with no need for exhaust pipes, blue panels remind you that things here are emission free.
It has 510 litres of load space in the rear, down slightly from the 550 litres of the combustion versions. The interior is, however, pretty similar to the X3, which brings conventionality, rather than the individuality that we got from the BMW i3. There are some blue highlights on the drive controller, for example, but otherwise it looks as you might expect from an X3 model.
The car is also equipped with BMW Iconic Sounds composed by Hans Zimmer: in the absence of a roaring engine, you'll get the option of an ultra-futuristic soundtrack instead.
BMW iX3 range and battery details
- 80kWh battery
- 460km range WLTP
- 150kW charging
BMW was keen to stress that it only uses renewable energy to produce the batteries, looking to reduce the carbon footprint of these vehicles overall. The BMW iX3 uses the fifth-generation electric drivetrain from the company, claiming a 30 per cent increase in power density over existing electric BMW cars.
The BMW i3X will give you 460km of range on the WLTP cycle (285 miles), or 500km (310 miles) on the European standard. That sits this car in the same sort of bracket as some of the leading electric vehicles when it comes to range, although the battery is smaller than the likes of Tesla at 100kW - what will really matter here is how the prices compare.
It's supported by 150kW charging, with BMW keen to stress that BMW Charging will give you access to a wide network of chargers - as well as there being support in a new app to help you find recommended chargers, something that was recently previewed as an update to BMW Operating System 7.0.
You'll be able to charge the battery from 0-80 per cent in 34 minutes; a 10-minute charge would give you 100km of range at the fastest rates.
BMW i3X performance statistics
- 0-62 in 6.8 seconds
- Rear wheel drive
Not only are the batteries of the new fifth-generation powertrain from BMW more efficient, but so are the other components, with the motor and transmission packed into the same housing.
The BMW i3X is rear-wheel drive, with a 210kW motor (286bhp) driving the car from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, while the top speed is limited to 112mph. For comparison the BMW X3 30i takes 6.4 seconds, but it's likely to be the off-the-line speed that's more impressive thanks to the 400Nm torque it will instantly produce.
There's no mention of all-wheel drive, which is strange considering that this is an X badged model. We wouldn't be surprised if there was a performance version in the works with dual motors, perhaps badged the BMW i3X M Sport.
There will be two main driving modes with B and D. The B mode will enable one-pedal driving with recuperation starting as soon as you lift off, for maximum efficiency. The D mode will enable more coasting, allowing a more dynamic driving experience for places like motorways when you don't want to start braking when you ease off the throttle.
BMW iX3 pricing and availability
The BMW iX3 will be available in China later in 2020 and we're then expecting global roll-out through 2021, although BMW has not yet confirmed a timeline for Europe, the UK or USA.
The price is also to be confirmed. The BMW X3 starts at just over £40k, with similar power models around £45k. We'd expect the the BMW iX3 to come in somewhere from this price upwards. There will be various trims and options available.
We'll update as soon as we get more confirmation on pricing or availability.