Images of the all-electric BMW iX3 SUV have surfaced online, coinciding with a test mule being spotted on the road in Munich, Germany. When it goes on sale, the iX3 will face tough competition from models like the Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC to contend with.
A pair of leaked photos – posted on Instagram – appear to show the front and rear of a production-ready iX3. The images give us our first full look at the exterior styling; as expected the car retains BMW’s kidney grille, which is blocked off to improve aerodynamic efficiency and boost range.
A pair of vertical air intakes at each corner of the front bumper help improve airflow around the wheels, while the styling at the rear is far less complex. A set of aero-focused alloy wheels also appear, which resemble the design teased in BMW’s official Geneva Motor Show video from March.
BMW Concept iX3
The all-electric version of the X3 SUV is set to arrive this year, with construction taking place in China at the firm’s Shenyang plant. We’ve already seen the iX3 in concept form at the Beijing Motor Show back in May 2018. Some of the concept’s more extravagant details – the wheels, for example – appear to be toned down on the latest test cars, while the overall body shape stays almost identical to that of the combustion-powered X3 range.
The iX3 marks a significant shift in BMW’s electric car story, as unlike the i3 and i8 it’s a fully-fledged i model based on an existing car in the firm’s line-up. With BMW having trademarked iX1 through to iX9, it could be the first in a broad line-up of all-electric BMW SUVs. After the arrival of the iX3, BMW promises that it’ll be able to fit any new series model with an all-electric powertrain thanks to flexible new platforms.
From a design point of view, the Concept iX3 reimagines the regular X3 with a number of unmistakable electric car styling features. The charging port sits behind the left side front wheel arch, while fresh side skirts and a new rear bumper complete with an eye-catching diffuser arrive, both sporting trademark BMW i blue accents. It rides on a set of bespoke, lightweight wheels, which BMW says have been designed to be as aero-efficient as possible.
The overall changes compared to the regular car aren’t numerous then, but BMW says that these sorts of tweaks are to be expected going forward in its future electrified series models, and that the Concept iX3 highlights the level of design differentiation it believes will be enough to separate conventionally powered cars from all-electric counterparts at a glance. BMW has yet to issue pictures of the interior.
BMW iX3: Power, range and performance
Under the skin, the Concept iX3 features BMW’s latest and fifth-generation eDrive electric technology, grouping the electric motor, transmission and power electronics into a new, separate electric drive component. However, BMW says that one of the biggest advantages of its latest systems comes in the form of more powerful, denser batteries, saving weight and serving up packaging advantages.
The battery itself boasts a capacity of ‘over’ 70kWh, while BMW’s new-generation electric motor is rated at a claimed 266bhp. It’s unclear for now, but it means that if BMW plans to offer the iX3 with a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive drivetrain, total system power could come in at 532bhp. A claimed range of 249 miles under the tough new WLTP regulations is touted, which is on par with Audi’s e-tron but behind the Jaguar I-Pace. A 75kWh Tesla Model X 75D claims 259 miles, though under now redundant NEDC regulations.
Like the Audi e-tron, the iX3 will arrive ready to support 150kW fast charging thanks to clever battery cooling and temperature control tech. It means that an 80 per cent recharge will be possible in less than half an hour, when plugged into a charge point capable of delivering the voltage.
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