The company’s first electric SUV is coming in 2019

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Like most automakers out there, BMW announced plans to add a large number of electrified models, but while some companies are already offering a handful of EVs and hybrids, BMW doesn’t have much to offer beyond the i3 electric hatchback and the i8 hybrid sports car. But that’s about to change soon, as BMW developed a new-generation eDrive platform that will underpin a number of vehicles in the future. The new drivetrain made its debut in the iX3 Concept, which previews a production model based on the familiar X3 crossover.

Showcased at the 2018 Beijing Motor Show, the iX3 is a mildly revised X3 on the outside. This is a sign that BMW wants its electric lineup to be familiar to company enthusiasts and it’s a hint that upcoming EVs will share design cues with the conventional Bimmers instead of getting their own unique styling, like the i3. Specs and performance details are slim as of this writing, but BMW promises an innovative drivetrain layout, an output of at least 270 horsepower, and mileage of at least 400 km (249 miles). A prototype of the production model was already spotted in the wild, so it may be unveiled early next year. Let’s find out more in the speculative review below.

Update 2/28/2020: The BMW iX3 prototype has been spotted doing some cold-weather testing with little camo. Does this mean that a debut is imminent.

February 28, 2020 – Will the BMW iX3 Debut at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show?

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2020 BMW iX3 Spyshots Exterior
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The BMW iX3 was spotted doing some cold-weather testing and, while none of the prototypes dropped any camo compared to the official shots BMW put out not that long ago, there are hints that a debut is imminent. This time around, the prototypes are wearing different colors, which means BMW has been working on perfecting the final touches of production, and one of them is rocking a new pair of wheels – the same ones that BMW previously teased. We already know that the iX3 will offer around 300 miles of range and as much as 270 horsepower, but whether or not it’ll still carry around a Samsung battery pack remains to be seen. At this point, we’re expecting the iX3 to debut at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, so stay tuned for updates!

Update 12/19/2019 – Some Specs for the BMW iX3 Released

2020 BMW iX3
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The BMW iX3 goes into production sometime in 2020, and we’re expecting to see it in production form by the time the 2020 Geneva Motor Show comes and passes in March. We have spy shots that prove it’ll look like a slightly modified version of the BMW X3, but what we didn’t know was what kind of performance it would offer, the size of the battery, or the range.

2020 BMW iX3
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The BMW X3 will have a 74 kWh battery and offer up 273 miles of range (440 km)

That range figure is based on Europe’s WLTP scale, so range will probably be a lot lower here in the States – think somewhere in the 230 mile range at best – but we will be getting the same 286-horsepower electric powertrain. That same powertrain is also good for 324 pound-feet (440 nm) and this is also a hint at what we can expect from other models.

2020 BMW iX3
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See, BMW has managed to combine the electric motor, transmission, and electronics into a single unit. And, thanks to some very hard engineering work, the battery is scalable, so the very same setup will be used in the upcoming BMW i4 electric sedan and the BMW iNext. The coolest part about all of this is that BMW has managed to decrease the motor weight to power output ratio by 30-percent, which means a smaller battery can provide better range. It’s not earth shattering by any means, but it’s a step in the right direction and that’s why the BMW iX3 will end up with the range it has.

2020 BMW iX3
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BMW iX3 Exterior

  • Just an X3 with minor revisions
  • Closed-off grille
  • Revised bumpers
  • Exhaust pipe delete
  • Not so exciting to look at
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While the test model features the standard kidney grille design, the production iX3 will probably get the concept’s closed-off grille

The prototype model looks identical to the standard X3 save for the socket on the right-side front fender and minor modifications to the bumper. There’s no doubt that the iX3 will be very similar to the conventional crossover, but the concept car shown at the Beijing Auto Show suggests that the electric SUV may get a few design features of its own.

While the bumper is likely to be identical to the standard X3, it will probably get revised vents and, as seen on the prototype, new trim inserts under the LED daytime running lights. Arguably the biggest change will be the grille. While the test model features the standard kidney grille design, the production iX3 will probably get the concept’s closed-off grille. With no engine under the hood, a standard cooling system is no longer necessary. Everything else will probably carry over unchanged, but we may see blue highlights here and there in order to further separate the iX3 from the more familiar X3.

2020 BMW iX3
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The rear bumper was revised to include a body-colored center section with cleaner lines. The exhaust pipes are gone

The side panels are also identical to the regular model, but it seems that BMW altered the side skirts for improved aerodynamics. The wheels on the concept car were also optimized for better aero work, and it’s safe to assume that they will make it on the production model with mild changes to the design. Aero optimization is crucial on electric models, as it can help increase mileage quite dramatically. If done right, of course.

The rear section features the same tailgate and taillight designs, but the bumper was revised to include a body-colored center section with cleaner lines. The exhaust pipes are gone, of course. The concept model sports a fancier bumper though, with a black apron and two blue-painted inserts where the exhaust pipes normally are on the standard X3. Hopefully, this design makes it into production as it gives the iX3 a more premium, and slightly sportier look.

BMW iX3 Interior

  • Similar to the standard X3
  • New digital instrument cluster
  • New packages?
  • Smaller trunk due to larger batteries?
2018 BMW X3 High Resolution Interior
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Interior from 2018 BMW X3 shown here.
Unlike the X3, the iX3 should be equipped with a new-design instrument cluster that will provide information regarding driving range and state of battery charge

Our paparazzi weren’t able to snap high-res photos of the interior, but it’s safe to assume that the iX3 will be identical to the standard X3 on the inside as well. The X3 is brand-new for the 2018 model year, so the cabin looks as fresh as they get. The layout is based on the larger X5, so the iX3 will get all the cool features, including the organic dashboard design, the center stack with aluminum trim, and the big infotainment display on top. A digital instrument cluster and a three-spoke dashboard with various controls with round off the dashboard area.

But unlike the X3, the iX3 should be equipped with a new-design instrument cluster that will provide information regarding driving range, state of battery charge, navigation information, speed, trip distance, among other things. Upholstery options and the seat design should remain identical, although BMW may add specific packages for the all-electric model. Trunk space should remain the same assuming BMW will use a clever way to store the big batteries in the floor. For reference, the X3 can take 19.42 cubic feet of luggage with the rear seats up and as much as 56.5 cubic feet with the seats folded flat.

BMW iX3 Drivetrain

  • Fifth-gen eDrive powertrain
  • 70-kWh battery
  • More than 270 horsepower
  • At least 249 miles per charge
  • Optional AWD?
2020 BMW iX3
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BMW says that the new electric motor is good for "more than" 270 horsepower

The upcoming iX3 will use BMW’s fifth-generation electric drive system, dubbed eDrive. Unlike its predecessor, it groups the electric motor, the transmission, and the power electronics within a separate component, which allows better packaging and a roomier cabin. The new drivetrains also include more powerful batteries, but there’s no word as to what that means as of this writing. We do know that the concept car uses a 70-kWh battery.

BMW says that the new electric motor is good for "more than" 270 horsepower, which isn’t bad compared to what’s available on the market as of 2018. Unfortunately, BMW hasn’t said whether the iX3 will feature an all-wheel-drive system. However, it did say that the battery will return 400 km on a single charge, which converts to around 249 miles. Other performance figures remain a mystery, but BMW will probably offer at least two different trims. The base model could be less powerful than the concept car, while a range-topping model will probably deliver in excess of 300 horsepower. The latter could wear an "M" badge.

We should find out more as the iX3 moves closer to production, so make sure you stick around for updates.

BMW iX3 Pricing

2020 BMW iX3
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As it is the case with most electric vehicles that have conventional counterparts, the iX3 will cost a bit more than the standard X3. With the latter priced from $41,000, the iX3 could retail from anywhere between $50,000 and $60,000.

BMW iX3 Competition

Mercedes-Benz EQC

Mercedes Shows Off Official Spy Shots of the EQC Production Prototype Exterior
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There are quite a few electric crossovers available in Europe and North America nowadays, including the hot Tesla Model X, but none of them compete in the premium segment. This leaves us with just one option against the iX3, the upcoming Mercedes-Benz EQC. Part of the brand’s new EQ division for electric vehicles, the EQC has the same development status as the iX3. It was previewed by a concept vehicle, and it’s currently being tested on public roads. The German crossover is slated to arrive in 2019, just in time for BMW’s first electric SUV. As the name suggests, it will be about the same size as the GLC, which will make it the perfect rival for the X3-based iX3. But while the latter is heavily based on its gasoline/diesel counterpart, the EQC seems to boast more unique features. Mercedes previously said that the EQC will feature a 70-kWh battery and a pair of electric motors that will generate around 400 horsepower. The Germans also aim at a range of around 500 km per single charge, which converts to 310 miles. It will be quick too, with the 0-to-60 mph sprint rumored to take less than five seconds.

Read our review of the Mercedes-Benz EQC Concept

Jaguar I-Pace

2019 Jaguar I-Pace Exterior Wallpaper quality
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While many still argue that Jaguar has yet to prove itself against BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the newly introduced I-Pace seems to be a worthy opponent to the iX3 and EQC. And unlike the German EVs, the I-Pace is available as we speak. It also boasts a design of its own, albeit it borrows a few cues from the F-Pace. The interior looks high-tech thanks to the big displays in the dashboard and over-the-air updates, while the materials and trim are of the premium variety. The I-Pace draws its juice from a big, 90-kWh battery that spins two electric motors to the tune of 394 horsepower and 513 pound-feet of torque. Solid figures that the iX3 can’t match with the drivetrain in the concept cars. The British crossover needs only 4.5 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start, while mileage is estimated at 240 miles in the U.S. and up to 298 miles in the U.K. Charging the batteries to 80-percent capacity takes only 85 minutes. Pricing for the I-Pace starts from $69,500, which is a bit more than what the iX3 is expected to cost.

Read our full review of the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace.

Conclusion

2020 BMW iX3
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It’s obviously too early to say how the iX3 will do on the market without actual specs on the table, but I’m pretty sure it will help BMW become a full-time player on the electric car market. The iX3 might not be much alongside the i3 in 2019, but the fifth-gen eDrive technology will be used in more EVs in the future, including the BMW iNext, due to be launched in 2021.

  • Leave it
    • Just an X3 with mild revisions
    • The Jaguar I-Pace is tough to beat

Update History

Update 12/19/2019: BMW hasn’t decided to show off the production version of the iX3 EV quite yet, but it has filled us in on some vital information. Find out what we know in our “Update” section below.

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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