Hot off the boat and located at Auckland City BMW I jumped into a new BMW iX3 today. Here’s my quick read first impressions compared to my Audi e-tron.
- The interior is much like the ICE X3 with a few blue highlights here and there. This also means that the quality is top-notch. Everything is screwed together exceptionally well. The dashboard is dominated by the massive idrive display. I perceived it to be roomier than the EQC which was probably helped by the full-size panoramic roof. And bless the designers at BMW for including a motorized shade for said roof
- The seats are excellent, and the adjustable side-bolsters are great. What’s not so great though is that the passenger seat is entirely poverty spec. No lumbar or side-bolster adjustment there. This is apparently down to the ongoing chip shortage
- The X3 comes with the now familiar iDrive7 and live cockpit professional with HUD. Having owned BMWs with every generation of iDrive since the gran-daddy version in the E65 7-series it’s amazing to see how it has grown and improved. It is dead simple to use. The “Hey BMW” feature works even better than “Hey Mercedes”. The virtual instruments are maybe not as high-tech as the other cars I have tested, but they do the trick. the HUD, though, is fantastic. It’s large, clear, and displays a wealth of information. It’s even animated
- My test car came in the “Impressive” spec which includes Harman Kardon sound. I am very familiar with BMW’s implementation of the HK systems, and the iX3 does not disappoint. It’s simply very good. Not quite Bang & Olufsen good, but still very good
- Driving dynamics. It drives, unmistakenly like a BMW. Composed, quiet and while the e-tron’s air suspension is still better, the iX3 rides better than the EQC and iPace in my opinion. The drive pedals do feel a bit strange, with the accelerator having very little weight to it, and the brake pedal feeling a bit mushy. When in sport the car also lurches a bit from standstill. The driver assistance system is a tad on the aggressive side, and I was left feeling that the active cruise control in the e-tron was just a bit more reliable when bringing the car to a complete stop. The electrified sounds by Hans Zimmer are a treat, though I imagine I would turn them off pretty quicly since they take away from the inherent quietness of an EV,
- Cabin noise/operation. The cabin noise was on par with that of the e-tron, and perhaps even a little less owing to the lack of audible whine from the electric motor. Everything is dead simple to operate and if you’ve owned any modern BMW you’ll feel right at home. There really is very little to fault in the cabin.
With very attractive pricing BMW ($114k for Inspiring, $124k for Impressive) may just have a hit on their hands. They are also throwing everything and the kitchen sink at early deliveries of the iX3 including not only the charger but also a type 2 public charge cable, BMW Wallbox, and BMW-branded ChargeNet card that gives you access to discounted public charging. If I were looking for a premium EV-SUV right now the iX3 would make a pretty compelling case for itself.