Latest report: BMW iX3 long-term test
23 June 2022
Author: Martyn Collins
Our iX3 impresses again with its range of driving assistance systems.
|BMW iX3 Premier Edition Pro |
|P11D price:|| £61,795|
|As tested:|| £61,770|
|Official range:|| 285 miles|
|Our average consumption:|| 3.2 miles/kWh|
4th Report: Driver assistance relieves jam stress
The last couple of months with the iX3 has seen it become a regular in airport car parks. Together with various meetings in London and the South-East, and the miles have quickly added up on this BMW - even if it seems like I've not been far from my home and office.
However this month, a chance to go further afield in the UK presented itself with the first-drive of the all-new, fifth-generation Range Rover, which was being held in Malmsbury in Wiltshire (See P40). With the iX3 already proving what a good long distance drive it was early in the loan, on a trip to Birmingham, there was no question it was the car I was going to use for this 240 odd mile round trip.
I talked about the driver assistance professional system in my first report, as I'd found this adaptive cruise control system very useful. When you set the speed and space around the car, the iX3 will maintain that distance - accelerating and braking where necessary. Despite seeing some 227-mile charges, a full charge that day equalled 190 miles - more than enough to get me to Wiltshire. But to eke out as many miles to the next charge, the first thing I did after joining the M25, was to set it to 70mph and let this BMW take control. Annoyingly this system did a better job with the efficiency than me, and with the regen on, even with slower stop/start driving, the range was increased slightly.
In fact, the only stop needed was a comfort break for me - rather than a top-up for the BMW. I thought I had every reason to be smug watching other EVs at the chargers, whereas mine after 100 miles, was still showing 170 miles left. In fact, I arrived at the event with 120 miles of range showing, before the iX3 was quickly whisked away by Jaguar Land Rover for a charge, in time for the trip home the following day.
As an aside, via the My BMW app, I was able to see where this car was being charged on a map and even look around it, to see how it was parked.
After a long day experiencing the new Range Rover, it was time to point the BMW North East and do the same trip in reverse. After punching my home details into the sat-nav, the iX3 took me on an enjoyable cross-country drive, avoiding some of the smaller villages between the event venue and the M4 that had been closed. Again, this BMW proved what a fun companion it could be, the only issue like before being the battery weight giving a sometimes-jiggly ride. Time was edging towards evening rush hour, with the traffic getting busier, but the BMW and I made decent progress down the M4. That was until we hit the M25, where the sat-nav picked up an accident a couple of miles off. The traffic then started getting heavier, until the driver assistance professional system, brought us to a stop.
The cleverest part of this system was activated by mistake, as I forgot to disable it when we came to a stop. Then, when the lorry ahead shuffled forward, so did my BMW without any input from me. I must admit I was scared in this first instance, with my left foot hovering above the foot brake should it be needed in the case of an emergency stop. I didn't, and my confidence grew with the screen registering the truck in front and cars around me - I just let the BMW make its move when possible and it certainly made me feel more relaxed in stop/start traffic. I am impressed and will use this system on any further long trips I do in this car.
The i4 hatch might be getting all the publicity, with its hatchback design and even more range - but dare I say it, I think the iX3 could be the better all-rounder. It is practical, has a decent range, drives well, has plenty of standard kit and fits into my life perfectly. I'm certainly looking forward to my last month behind the wheel and dreading when BMW comes to take the key away.
3rd Report: Going the distance
School holiday greed, the cost-of-living crisis and probably post-pandemic demand means there's no such thing as a cheap holiday this year. As I mentioned in the last BMW report, our plan was to get away for a small family holiday over the Easter break, but with prices for a couple of Airbnb nights almost adding up to a hot holiday abroad, we decided to stay at home, with planned day trips and time spent doing jobs at home instead. So, it was still a good mileage test for the BMW.
Spring might have sprung in the daytime, with a hot sunny day starting the week, but cold nights mean we're seeing just under 190 miles to a charge. More than enough for the 42-mile round trip to the O2 in Docklands and a trip across the excellent Emirates Air Line for our first day out. The M25 was kind, but there was still lots of congestion around the Blackwall Tunnel.Still, in Eco Pro and maximum regen B modes, not only did the one-pedal drive equal much smoother and less stressful stop-start driving, but I also actually ended up arriving at the O2 with 211 miles of charge - more than I started with.
Pleasingly easy to get parked just a short way from this attraction, there were even charging stations - although I couldn't see them in the car park where we stopped. We had a great day out, even if it was stop/start driving again - at least until we reached the M25. I was pleased to get back with 150 miles still showing on the range. Plus, how unstressed the BMW left me after all the traffic. With a large sunroof fitted, my wife and I could make the most of the late afternoon sunshine and all of us could enjoy the excellent standard Harmon/Kardon stereo system fitted in the iX3. This range was also more than enough for me not to worry about an overnight charge before more local trips on the Tuesday.
With a list of DIY to do, the iX3's jobs on the Tuesday mostly revolved around getting to various shops for a long list of paint and decorating materials, together with a curtain pole, which easily fitted in the BMW's 510-litre boot.
Wednesday's trip was the longest at just over 200 miles door to door - with a day trip to the Norfolk coast. The need to assess an ICE test car for a future review, saw us use that rather than the BMW. I'm sure someone upstairs was trying to tell me something, or maybe it was fate making itself known - but the one day we didn't use this EV, was the one I struggled to get petrol anywhere nearby. I was just at the point of turning back when I found a station with plenty of unleaded. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if we'd taken the iX3, it would have made it easily to Southwold, with probably enough charge to make it to the excellent Gridserve site at Braintree for a top up on the way home. Ah well, what's more ironic is that I saw the most EVs I've seen for a while on the roads around Norfolk.
On Thursday, more DIY jobs saw this BMW visiting the local shops, and with 80 miles of the charge left from Sunday night's previous charge, I hooked it up ready for a Good Friday trip to the in-laws in Cambridgeshire. I enjoyed driving the iX3 over a mix of rural, country roads and motorway. The only time this BMW feels slightly out of its depth is in deep, undulating corners, where the weight of the batteries, along with this car's standard 20in wheels, can make the iX3 feel unsettled.
Easter Saturday, clear skies and almost 20-degree heat tempt us outside to give the back garden its first attention in seven-months. With my lawn mower not quite up to the task of cutting the grass, the iX3's practicality is called upon again. I have to borrow a friend's lawn mower and wasn't worried as the rear seat folds flat - increasing the space to 1,560 litres - more than enough to swallow a mower easily.
Easter weekend was rounded off with a late Monday walk with the family in the country. My admiration for the iX3 grows the more I live with it, but sadly time with this BMW is going fast.
2nd Report: Taking the long road
Driver appeal, not key for a fleet driver we'll admit - as for many the appeal will be to have the use of a company vehicle that they have chosen. Even if events over the last few years mean we are perhaps more reliant on our computers than cars for meetings. The advent of electric cars, I think, throws another curve ball in the mix for driver appeal. Once you get over the novelty of having to charge the car rather than visit petrol stations, plus the likely lively acceleration - does it still make you want to drive it? Giving electric cars some sort of character, seems to be something car makers are struggling with at the moment. Admittedly, it is still early days, but I know during my time with the Audi Q4 e-Tron, I had some memorable drives on some days, but sadly many were not.
As I said in my first report, the BMW iX3 feels more like an ICE-powered BMW and as such is far more involving to drive. Over 600 miles have passed since my last report and my feelings are largely the same. The extra weight of the battery pack does have an effect on the ride, feeling a bit jiggly on undulating roads, but despite this and the standard 20in alloy wheels, the BMW feels more comfortable and composed more of the time than the Audi. In fact, the ride and handling mix is as good as I reckon an ICE-powered BMW model.
The tall body equals some roll, and more steering feel would be welcome, but with almost 300hp and rear-wheel drive, every trip is satisfying. One occasion that sticks in my mind, was a local diversion, which took me on a long twisty route home. I enjoyed the drive and this BMW felt fast. At the same time, I had an eye on the range, which was lower than I'd have liked, and with every squirt of the throttle it was getting lower!
Like every other electric car on sale, enjoying the iX3 seems a bit of a compromise. Bigger more efficient batteries might equal more miles per charge, but I have now gone from range anxiety to charging anxiety. As despite the recent government strategy announcement for 300,000 UK public chargers by 2030 - I really feel we need those chargers right now. Without my home charger, I wouldn't be able to run this car, as the only public charging available near me are the few 7kW ones in the local public car park and supermarket.
The lack of charging network is annoying. As after a long trip that started from home in Herts to Birmingham, that took in a stop in Bedfordshire, and eventually ended back at my house late on the same day, I found the iX3 an excellent long-distance driver. Electric cars are less tiring - maybe it's the lack of an engine?
Still, as expected, the warmer Spring weather at the end of March has equalled more range. Whereas we were previously seeing a reliable 184 miles to a charge, this has now jumped to 204 miles. In fact, on a couple of drives to the airport, the combination of the regenerative braking in the gearboxes' "B" mode, combined with the Eco Pro driving mode, has after stop/start driving resulted in me arriving at Heathrow with more charge than I started with. Certainly confidence boosting in the cold weather.
The iX3 is a very tech-heavy car, and just over a month into my time with it, do I feel I'm understanding it better. I've downloaded the My BMW app, which makes it possible to preheat the interior (as most apps of its type do), it also tells you the state of charge, plus offers the ability to use the cameras to see how the car is parked. I'll report back on how I'm getting on in future reports.
I've also found out how to operate the auto full-beam function of the headlights, which was a great help in the last of the dark nights before we changed the clocks.
As you read this, hopefully I should be on holiday in the UK with my family. I'm planning on taking this BMW with me. I'll let you know how I get on with public charging next time.
1st Report: Strong start
After spending almost six-months behind the wheel of the futuristic Audi Q4 e-Tron, I have moved into the first and smaller of the BMW iX electric SUV models - the iX3. However, you might have noticed our iX3 is a 21-plate and looks a bit different to the recently facelifted version. Well, that is simply because this Premier Edition Plus launch version was released before these updates were applied and with Covid-19, plus the current chip crisis with new car supply, I have this pre-facelift version instead.
I am not worried as the facelift was cosmetic, made up mainly of a new bumper and lights. In fact, I see the fact that it is a Premier Edition Pro is a bonus, as this quickly superseded £61,850 range-topper seems to have all the options fitted as standard. However, its replacement the iX3 M Sport Pro retails at £63,970.
Finished in metallic Mineral White, apart from closed front kidney grilles, unique 20in alloy wheels and blue highlights, our car looks just like a standard X3. I only got to choose between this and Carbon Black, and neither are particularly good at staying clean at this time of year, although I have been pleasantly surprised at how muck-free it has stayed, despite what has seemed like a torrential February. The same is true of the inside; the iX3 does not benefit from the same, curved display as the i4 and iX. In my opinion, this is a better solution, as you get proper physical buttons for the climate control and the instruments are much easier to read. The rest of the iX3 cabin is spacious, the driving position comfortable and the seats supportive. The 510-litre boot, which is 40-litres fewer than the diesel X3 thanks to the electric drivetrain, is still a good shape.
Another benefit of the iX3 is the iDrive infotainment system, which works well and is easy to understand. I have been spoiled with the Harmon Kardon sound system, which certainly has the measure of the previous Audi's impressive SONOS system.
On the road, the iX3 follows the big power and torque formula of other electric vehicles. With 286hp, and 399Nm of torque, and a 0-62mph acceleration time in 6.8 seconds, we're a bit down on power compared with the Audi and we haven't got four-wheel drive. However, like the i4, the iX3 still feels more like an ICE-powered BMW, which equates to far more involvement in the drive than I had in the Q4 E-Tron. On top of this, despite the 20in wheels, this BMW has a more comfortable, composed ride, too. It is still early days, but so far, the BMW is serving up more driving enjoyment. Although there is some body roll as this is a tall car, yet there is plenty of grip. I think more steering feel would, however, make this driving experience more perfect.
Range-wise BMW quotes 279 miles, which is similar to the consumption of the Audi before the colder temperatures took hold. Talking of temperatures, I wish spring would hurry up, as the range has dropped to a reliable 180 miles. This range I am currently getting seems realistic, and I'm making the most of the regenerative braking in "B" mode, which also equals impressive "one pedal" driving. I have a couple of long trips planned over the coming month, so it will be interesting to see how this reduced range will affect these.
Of more importance, when I need to find a charger, the iX3's 400v battery can use single-phase and three-phase charging at up to 11kW. It can also be rapid charged at up to 150kW, meaning I should be able to go from 0% to 80% capacity in just 34 minutes. With enough power for 62 miles added in just ten minutes.
So far I have only done one long trip in the iX3, but the Driver Assistance Professional system has already proved its worth. An adaptive cruise control system with more, when enabled, the centre of the instruments turns into a screen that registers the cars, vans and even trucks around it. You can set the speed and space around the car and the iX3 will maintain the set distance from the next vehicle, speeding up and stopping if need be. It can then autonomously drive at speeds up to 40mph - although I have not tried this function yet.
The iX3 is an interesting car that I feel has rather been overshadowed with the launch of the iX and i4. I am certainly looking forward to spending more time with it.