First Drive

BMW iX3 2021 review

BMW iX3 2020 first drive review - hero front

A brisk, quiet, agile and versatile electric vehicle with traditional rear-wheel-drive BMW driving qualities

The iX3 represents a significant reset for BMW’s electric car plans – and not only because it holds the distinction of being the first BMW model to be produced in China for export to key markets.The iX3 also dispenses with the earlier strategy that called for BMW’s electric models to be based on a dedicated aluminium structure called LifeDrive, as with the similarly named but largely unrelated i3, launched back in 2013. Instead, the new but familiarly styled electric SUV is based on the same CLAR platform as recently facelifted petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid versions of the third-generation X3.It’s a move we’ll apparently be seeing a lot more of in coming years as BMW rolls out electric-powered models based on its current platforms, including next year’s production version of the i4 concept, which will also rely on an adapted version of the CLAR-based structure from the latest 4 Series.The use of an existing platform might sound like a compromise at a time when rival car makers are busy extolling the advantages of their own dedicated electric car structures, and BMW officials do reveal that some modifications have been undertaken to the structure in the electrification process. But as BMW is quick to point out: “The [CLAR] platform was always conceived to house electric motors and batteries, so the decision to use it was not controversial but actually quite straightforward.”The iX3’s single electric motor is mounted within the rear axle in quite a compact drivetrain housing that’s claimed to be up to 30% smaller and a good deal lighter than that used by the i3.Described by BMW as a fifth-generation eDrive system, it delivers 282bhp and 295lb ft to the rear wheels via a single-speed gearbox and an electromechanical Performance Control differential, with three driving modes: Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport.

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