BMW has at long last unveiled and detailed its Audi e-tron fighting iX3 electric SUV, a market newcomer boasting some 460km of effective range and due on Aussie soil by the middle of next year.
Wading into the premium electric SUV segment up against the e-tron and Mercedes EQC, the fresh-faced BMW actually beats both its compatriots – and inevitable rivals – on range but struggles in terms of power.
With maximum power and torque pegged at 210kW and 400Nm respectively, the iX3 is down some 90kW/360Nm on the Mercedes and 65kW/264Nm on the Audi (not including Boost mode).
As a result, it is slower from rest to 100km/h, stopping the clock in 6.8 seconds while the top speed has been electronically limited to 180km/h.
The battery itself is an 80kWh unit and can be charged to 80 per cent capacity in just 34 minutes when using a DC fast-charging station, adding up to 100 kilometres of range after just 10 minutes.
A newly developed ‘Flexible Fast Charger’ cable will be available with the relevant adaptors to ensure compatibility with both domestic and industrial sockets, as will a new ‘Smart Wallbox’ for monitoring energy expenditure during home charging.
To make sure the iX3 is as efficient as possible, BMW have implemented a series of “adaptive energy recuperation tools” including the brake energy regeneration system which automatically adapts to the road situation based on data received from the navigation system and driver assistance systems.
It also knows when the car is travelling on an open road such as a freeway or major highway and automatically engages a coasting function whenever the driver takes their foot off the accelerator.
Drivers also have the option to manually select which level of regenerative braking – high, medium or low – they want when in driving position D.
Another piece to the iX3’s efficiency puzzle is the fact it is exclusively rear-wheel-drive, thereby eliminating the mechanical drag usually found in an all-wheel-drive.
Thanks to the slim and compact construction of the battery pack, the iX3 boasts a centre of gravity some 75mm lower than its internal combustion powered X3 cousins, resulting in “noticeably enhanced lateral dynamics” with the rear-wheel-drive setup helping to deliver “a classic BMW driving experience”.
The whole package then rides on fully adaptive suspension as standard while the rear wheels are kept in check by an advanced traction and stability control system regulated by the engine computer rather than traditional sensors.
Visually, the iX3 resembles its traditionally powered stablemates with only a few obvious differences, chief among which are the aerodynamically optimised alloy wheels.
More subtle changes include the largely closed off front apron and twin-kidney grille – although the traditional grille shape remains – while the rear has also been treated to a few aerodynamic tweaks of its own, primarily with the addition of a new diffuser.
The other giveaway of the iX3’s electric identity is the blue trim running along the base of its doors and matching blue inserts in the diffuser.
These changes front and rear are not just for aesthetics, with BMW claiming all of the aforementioned aero tweaks have added an extra 10km to the car’s range.
Inside the cabin, the iX3 has lost none of the practicality usually associated with SUVs, boasting 40:20:40 split folding rear seats, a feature which expands cargo space from 510 litres to 1560L.
BMW Australia is yet to detail the pricing and local specification levels of its electric SUV, however the brand has confirmed its new cloud-based navigation system, BMW Maps, will be fitted as standard.
“When planning a route and calculating the arrival time, the E-Route function offers improved recommendations for mid-journey stops to charge the high-voltage battery,” BMW said in a statement.
“It also provides useful information on charging stations, such as availability, connector type, rate of charging and authentication method required, as well as points of interest in the surrounding area.”
The infotainment system will be powered by BMW Operating System 7.0, allowing for over the air updates of every line of software within.