In the midst of change

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In the midst of change

With the iX 3, BMW is bringing its second electric car onto the road. The Stromer is technically based on the well-known X3.

The iX 3 differs from the well-known X3 in the closed radiator grille and new rim design.

With the i3, BMW was one of the pioneers in 2013.

When the car was presented eight years ago, the range of battery electric vehicles was still very limited.

In the meantime, almost all manufacturers have done a lot when it comes to e-cars – just not at BMW. Although the Bavarians have repeatedly revised the i3 slightly and brought a wide range of plug-in hybrid variants onto the market, there were no other models with a purely electric drive. BMW now wants to catch up: Before the end of the year, the i4, a four-door coupe based on the current 4 series, and the iX, a luxury SUV based on a platform for electric drives used for the first time, will be launched.

The iX 3, which is now available for at least CHF 77,600, marks the beginning of BMW’s e-car offensive. It also builds on what is known: The iX 3 is not a new model, but rather an electric version of the mid-range SUV X3. The required power electronics are located under the front hood, the batteries are installed in the underbody. The electric motor sits on the rear axle and drives it exclusively. A four-wheel drive like the one offered by the Audi e-tron (from CHF 87,280), Jaguar iPace (from CHF 86,500) or Mercedes EQC (from CHF 77,700) is not available with the BMW, even for an extra charge.

familiar environment

Anyone who has ever sat in a BMW of the current generation will immediately feel at home in the cockpit. Because the interior was taken from the X3 with conventional drive, except for a few blue accents that want to indicate e-mobility at BMW. For BMW drivers who want to switch to an electric drive, the familiar environment could definitely be an advantage. However, even here only at first glance. Because the handling of a car with an electric drive differs fundamentally from a petrol or diesel engine. Last but not least, instruments and navigation must be geared to this, which BMW adopts in the iX 3 almost unchanged from the models with combustion engines.

In the midst of change-change

Known: The cockpit is carried over from the regular X3.

The navigation system can search for charging stations along the route for longer distances and suggest how many stops would be necessary. The driver then has to select and confirm the charging breaks individually. This is neither simple nor intuitive. In addition, the route planner cannot predict how much energy will still be in storage at the destination. On a petrol engine, this information may not be relevant; but decisive for the electric car. This is the only way the driver can estimate how much electricity he needs to charge in order to get to the next charging station – or to be able to continue driving from his next destination. Planning is made more difficult by the display of the remaining range, which, as with petrol or diesel, uses the previous kilometers as a basis for calculation. In addition, the planned route is taken into account when the navigation system is active. The displayed value fluctuates very strongly, sometimes it is enough to accelerate on the motorway – and a few kilometers are missing again. Even when driving constantly, the electronics suddenly deduct a few kilometers from time to time. It is therefore difficult to trust the technology, or at least to learn to assess it through experience.

Little stamina

A shortcoming that is particularly important in everyday life, since the range of the E-SUV is rather limited. BMW specifies 450 kilometers, which was not nearly achievable in everyday testing. The test consumption (on winter tires) was 22.5 kWh/100 km. With a usable battery capacity of 74 kWh, this results in a maximum range of 329 kilometers. But that too is only half the truth: If you assume that you don’t want to recharge at the last minute, i.e. with 10% remaining charge, and only recharge the battery up to 80%, since charging is then greatly slowed down, there are still around 230 kilometers that can be used effectively in everyday life or on long journeys with several charging stops. Definitely not enough for a modern electric car in this price range. Even compact models like the Renault Zoe or the Hyundai Kona electric go further. The iX 3 also clearly shows that e-cars based on a previous model with thermal drive can only be a compromise after all – and will probably die out soon. The fact that the iX 3 drives quite pleasantly, with a low noise level in the interior and comfortable suspension makes it feel very comfortable and is processed as solidly and precisely as you would expect from a BMW in this price range, cannot hide this.

This harbors hopes for the i4 and the iX, which have better chances of success in Switzerland anyway thanks to all-wheel drive.

In the midst of change-change

At a fast charging station (150 kW), the battery is 80% full again after 34 minutes at best.


Engine: E-machine synchronous

Power: 286 hp/400 Nm

Drive: auto 1-speed, RWD

L×W×H: 4743×1891×1668mm

trunk volume: 510-1560L

Weight: 2185kg

0-100km/h: 6.8 sec.

Vmax: 180km/h

Range WLTP: 450 km

Price: from 77600 francs

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