With the push towards electrification, the prospect of swapping our petrol driven cars for electric vehicles (EVs) seems imminent. My family and I have deliberated this at length and concluded that our next car could be an EV.
What drew us to this idea was the time we spent in the new BMW iX3, which allowed us to experience what it would be like to actually own the car.
BLUE IS THE NEW GREEN
Though I no longer practice as an architect, design remains a big part of my life. From spaces and art, to fashion and even food, I pay much attention to how things are designed and put together.
With cars, design is the first thing that I look out for, even before getting into the driver’s seat. It is how I form my first impression of it.
And the iX3 made a great first impression. The exterior strikes a balance between rugged sportiness and elegant poise. It sends the right visual cues as to the iX3’s versatile nature and gives the car its own identity.
I like that it does not look overly radical or stick out like a sore thumb. It shares similar broad design strokes with its siblings, but with BMW i blue accents on the exterior.
These distinguish the iX3 from the rest of the pack, yet remain discreet enough to still feel like part of the X3 family.
The same strategy continues in the cabin. Save for some tell-tale blue accents and a few other model-specific elements, we could very well be inside an X3.
The familiarity is reassuring. The cockpit architecture and aesthetics ease us into the car, making the transition smoother, especially for first-time EV owners.
My husband loves his music and the iX3’s Live Cockpit Professional lets him stream his Spotify playlist via wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. My daughter enjoys playing backseat DJ by picking her favourite tracks.
The panoramic glass roof is one of her favourite features. She says that it feels relaxing to gaze up at the sky and trees, “like being in a convertible, but with air-conditioning.”
For families like ours who lead busy lifestyles, time on the road is a great opportunity to bond. With excellent sound insulation, we can have a proper conversation while also enjoying our music.
My 11-year-old backseat reviewer is undisputedly the harshest critic among us. Having sat in almost every single car that I have test-driven, I reckon that she knows what she is talking about.
She gives the iX3 a thumbs-up for cabin space and rear legroom. Rear air-con vents are high on her list of must-haves, and the cup holders ensure that her bubble tea is always within reach.
The 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats got us excited for Christmas and Lunar New Year shopping. When folded, boot capacity increases from 510 to 1560 litres. I see no issue fitting bulky items from Ikea and plants from the nursery.
ZAP AND SIZZLE
Propelled by a single motor powering the rear wheels, the iX3 is an engaging drive. The extra weight from the battery has a minimal effect on the overall experience. In fact, it may even have contributed to better handling by lowering the centre of gravity.
The iX3 has the agility and fun-to-drive factor expected from a BMW. Even my hubby, who does not usually take to sports utility vehicles (or Sports Activity Vehicle in this case), nodded his approval after his turn behind the wheel.
The driving technologies I enjoyed included Driving Assistant Professional, which helps keep the car in lane without abrupt corrections, and Parking Assistant Plus. The latter’s Surround View makes parking in tight carparks less stressful.
DIFFERENT – IN A GOOD WAY
If you’re new to an EV, the first thing that hits you when you switch it on is how quiet it is. My daughter was surprised that the iX3 was actually running.
This is when the short opening sequence composed by Hans Zimmer, comes in handy. It greets you like an overture in anticipation of the (electrifying) drive ahead.
I’m used to getting aural feedback from the mechanical components of a petrol-driven car, so a totally silent drive is out of the question. Fortunately, BMW’s IconicSounds Electric function does just that in the iX3. Its soundtrack reflects the selected drive mode.
The iX3’s instantaneous torque enabled me to pull off quick overtaking and lane-change manoeuvres. The car felt light-footed and nimble, and seemed quicker than the declared 6.8 seconds it takes to get from rest to 100km/h.
Another characteristic shared by many EVs is one-pedal driving. It is possible for the iX3 to come to a complete stop without depressing the brake pedal. From three-pedal manuals, to two-pedal automatics, and now, one-pedal EVs. How much more convenient can driving get?
Two of the most important considerations that determine the everyday usability of an EV are range and charging.
On paper, the iX3 has a range of 460km and averages 19.4kWh/100km. I collected the test-car at 100% battery charge and an indicated range of 300km.
After driving it for 135km, the battery was down to 70% with a remaining range of 234km. I managed a consumption figure of 19.5kWh/100km.
Considering the iX3’s 74kWh battery size, this works out to a real-world range of around 380km. No range anxiety here – I could drive from Changi to Jurong more than eight times before needing to recharge.
Speaking of charging, the pre-requisite for EV ownership is being able to easily access a charger when you need one. If you live in a landed property, the iX3 comes with a dedicated BMW Wallbox Plus and comprehensive installation package so you can conveniently charge at home.
But if I need to charge while I’m out and about, there’s the reassurance that the iX3 is compatible with any of the Type 2 charging stations that are widely available.
Another charging option is BMW Charging, which allows me to charge the car while I am at the mall shopping or having a meal, or while attending a meeting at an office building.
Using the Wallbox or other alternating current (AC) terminals, the iX3 takes about 7.5 hours for a full charge from 0 to 100 percent. I liken this to plugging in my smartphone before I go to bed and waking up to a fully-charged device, or car, in this case.
The iX3 is future-proofed, too. When 150kW direct current (DC) fast-charging stations become available in Singapore, the battery can be juiced up from 10 to 80 percent in 32 minutes. This way, if I’m pressed for time or low on battery, a 10-minute pit stop will give me 100km range.
Apart from the aspects of the car that we like, we also discovered a few extra perks.
Once, after arriving at a full carpark at one of the malls, we spotted a row of spaces reserved for EVs. It felt like we had struck gold.
And while picking our daughter up from school, the thought of zero tailpipe emissions was reassuring. We could let the car idle without polluting our surroundings. The same action would be harmful – and illegal – in a petrol-driven car.
The iX3 combines everyday usability with driving fun. The similarities that it shares with the rest of the X3 range lend a familiarity that provides confidence, especially for first-time EV owners.
As a motoring writer, I have test-driven almost every EV that is currently available in Singapore. Some I love, others I don’t, and there are only a few that I will actually consider buying. The iX3 is one of them.
BMW iX3 Impressive (A)
MOTOR Current-excited synchronous
MAX POWER 286hp (210kW) at 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 400Nm at 17,000rpm
BATTERY CAPACITY 74kWh net
POWER TO WEIGHT 129.1hp per tonne
GEARBOX Single-speed automatic
0-100KM/H 6.8 seconds
TOP SPEED 180km/h
CONSUMPTION 19.4kWh/100km (combined)
MAX RANGE 460km
PRICE INCL. COE From $281,888
AGENT Performance Motors
BMW iX3 is the hero of the X3 range