SMC Asia Car Distributors Corporation (SMC ACDC), the official BMW distributor in the Philippines recently announced the impending arrival of the iX3. The iX3 is essentially the electric version of the X3, unlike the iX which rides on a bespoke electric vehicle architecture. Therefore, the 2023 BMW iX3 carries an air of familiarity that will make it easy for first-time electric vehicle (EV) owners to adapt to the vehicle.
EVs often tend to flex their modern, silent powertrains and forward-thinking technologies. Just take a look at the iX for example. In the iX3, however, it’s literally just the facelifted X3 with a closed-off grille and blue highlights. That’s not exactly a bad thing, because the iX3 (at least in Singapore spec) comes with this lovely M Sport exterior with matching 20-inch aerodynamic wheels. The X3 has always been a handsome, if not conservatively-designed SUV, and that still applies to the iX3.
Philippine specs for the 2023 BMW iX3 have not yet been announced, but there’s a high chance that it will mirror the Singaporean model we’re driving. Therefore, expect features like the M Sport package, adaptive LED headlights, and a powered tailgate, just to name a few.
Likewise, the interior of the 2023 BMW iX3 is very familiar. It’s the same dash design as the non-electric X3, but of course with the added blue highlights to remind you that you’re driving a BMW i vehicle. It also means that the iX3 does not get the iX’s latest iDrive 8 infotainment system, and it’s probably for the better because iDrive 7 still keeps the hard buttons for the climate controls. Some of its features that might be included in the Philippine-market iX3 include a Harman Kardon sound system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the IconicSounds feature that pumps out synthesized electric car noises that were made by famous movie score composer Hans Zimmer.
The rest of the interior is excellently built to typical BMW standards, with solid doors and well-screwed panels. As typical of BMW, the driving position is excellent. Even more amazing is the fact that in its transition to become an EV, back seat room and trunk space is identical to the gas or diesel-fed X3. That’s because its Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform was designed from the start to be able to accommodate an EV powertrain.
A Revolutionary Drive
Familiarity often breeds contempt, but not with the iX3. That’s because while may simply look like a gas or diesel-powered X3 with blue highlights and aerodynamic wheels, that’s not the case when it comes to the driving experience. Powering the iX3 is the same fifth-generation eDrive powertrain from the iX. However, whereas the iX has a dual-motor all-wheel drive (AWD) layout, the iX3 is only available in single-motor rear-wheel drive (RWD) form. Therefore, it has less power than the iX at 286 hp (but it’s still a healthy number) and 400 Nm of torque. Its 0-100 kph time of 6.8 seconds is also very impressive.
As a result, the BMW iX3 feels much faster than those numbers suggest, especially when you put the pedal to the metal. There’s no downshifting or turbo lag to speak of, so everything happens instantaneously. We weren’t able to fully exploit its performance, however. This is Singapore after all, where almost all roads are closely monitored by speed cameras.
What you will notice regardless of your speed is its refinement. Prior to this trip, I was behind the wheel of the iX for a couple of days, so I have a good analysis of how the iX3 will compare. All BMWs have a high degree of refinement and stability, and the iX3 is no exception. Compared to the iX, there’s a touch more road and wind noise, but it’s still very quiet inside–even more so due to the lack of any drivetrain noise. All you’re hearing its the whisper of the air coming out of the aircon vents and the synthetic EV noises made by Hans Zimmer. I would personally have preferred the pure silence of an EV, but accelerating without any acoustic reminder of how fast I’m going is still disconcerting. With that in mind, I left the IconicSounds feature turned on the entire drive.
Also impressive is the iX3’s handling. This is a BMW after all, so it comes with the typical athleticism you would expect from the brand. The steering doesn’t have the most feel compared to past BMWs, but it’s more responsive and precise compared to its rivals. The adaptive suspension fitted to this particular model soaks up the bumps really well whilst keeping the car flat through corners. Along with its batteries being mounted on the floor for a low center of gravity, the iX3 feels direct and fun to toss around when driving on winding roads.
In terms of charging, the BMW iX3 uses the same electric vehicle architecture as the iX, which means it can accept as much as 150 kW DC current which enables it to be juiced from 10% to 80% in around 34 minutes. If using the home 7.4 kW charger that comes with the purchase of an iX3, the charge time from empty to full is around 11 hours. With its 80 kWh (74 kWh usable) lithium-ion battery fully charged, the iX3 has a claimed WLTP range of 460 km. Singapore isn’t a huge country (about just the size of NCR), and so we ended the day with more than 60% battery capacity.
The 2023 BMW iX3 is a luxury SUV for those who want to enter the world of EV ownership but with a high degree of familiarity. Unlike the iX’s futuristic demeanor, the iX3 is much more friendly to those who simply want an electric BMW with excellent driving dynamics and a long range. As a matter of fact, since its drivetrain is nearly identical to the iX, the general public would already be satisfied with what the iX3 already offers in terms of performance.
And speaking of price, SMC ACDC has not yet announced how much the iX3 will cost. With the iX being priced at P6,290,000, an educated guess could be that the iX3 will be priced at around P5,200,000–just a couple hundred thousand more than the X3 xDrive30d M Sport. This should make the iX3 the most competitively-priced electric luxury SUV out there, undercutting the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron SUV by as much as P1 million. RSA Motors BMW dealers (Greenhills and Libis) are already accepting reservations for the iX3, while its official launch is scheduled to be sometime in 2023.