2024 BMW iX3 review

Posted on July 6, 2024Comments Off on 2024 BMW iX3 review

BMW has been on a roll over the last year or so, introducing an ever-growing fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) that fall below the luxury car tax (LCT) threshold for fuel-efficient vehicles.

One of the latest is the 2024 iX3 M Sport on test here. It’s almost $16,000 more affordable than the top-spec M Sport Pro. The latter is more or less equivalent to the previous singular fully-loaded iX3 variant.

The Chinese-built BMW iX3 is based on the now outgoing-generation X3 and has minor exterior and interior changes to signify it’s an EV. The majority of these altered design elements are finished in blue, which is the BMW i Division’s signature colour for EVs.

Given the iX3 is based on the outgoing X3, its infotainment system still runs iDrive 7 which is now basically two generations old. The digital instrument cluster and touchscreen infotainment system screens also aren’t connected in a curved display like BMWs newer models.

WATCH: Paul’s video review of the MY22 iX3

There is a new version of the iX3 on the horizon that will be based on the German carmaker’s forthcoming Neue Klasse EV platform. The X3-sized electric SUV has already been shown off in concept form and is slated to enter production in 2025.

In the meantime however, the 2024 BMW iX3 M Sport is currently one of the biggest bargains in the premium electric SUV market – read along to find out why.

How does the BMW IX3 compare?

View a detailed breakdown of the BMW IX3 against similarly sized vehicles.

BMW IX3 cutout image

BMW

IX3

How much does the BMW iX3 cost?

On test here is the entry-level iX3 M Sport that currently slides under the luxury car tax (LCT) threshold for fuel-efficient vehicles which means it’s exempt from fringe benefits tax (FBT) if you plan to use the car for business purposes or obtain it through a novated lease.

Model Variant $RRP
2024 BMW iX3 M Sport $89,100
2024 BMW iX3 M Sport Pro $104,900

It’s worth noting the M Sport on test here is the only iX3 variant that’s under the LCT threshold for fuel-efficient vehicles, though BMW offers a number of other electric vehicles (EVs) that are exempt from FBT. These include the iX1 and iX2 ranges, as well as the i4 eDrive35.

To see how the BMW iX3 lines up against the competition, check out our comparison tool.

What is the BMW iX3 like on the inside?

Walking up to the BMW iX3 you really have to squint to notice this isn’t a regular X3 and instead an electric vehicle (EV) – some signs however include the blanked-out faux double kidney grille, the lack of exhaust outlets, as well as the blue ‘i’ badges.

As you approach plenty of lights turn on which helps make the car feel special. Notable ones include puddle lights with a nondescript design, as well as tiny lights inside the door handles. The abundance of lights is great if you need to find your car in the dark.

Hopping in you’re presented with a very classic and traditional BMW interior. It’s based on the now outgoing X3 which is by no means a bad thing because everything is laid out very logically and ergonomically.

The dashboard and interior layout isn’t nearly as screen heavy and minimalist as newer BMW models however, though it still feels high-tech. The screens technically run iDrive 7 which is now two generations old in BMW world, but navigating around the menus is arguably a lot easier than in newer versions.

As standard the iX3 M Sport comes with chunky front seats which are super comfortable and offer plenty of support. Our tester’s seats were finished in brown (or Mocha in BMW-speak) leather ‘Vernasca’ upholstery which suits the Phytonic Blue exterior paint beautifully.

The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable, though it lacks lumbar support. However there’s an electric side bolster adjustment, as well as an extendable thigh support. The latter is great for those with longer legs like myself.

Ahead of the driver is a really chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel which fills your hands nicely. In classic BMW style it’s almost a bit too thick but I’ve grown to love it over time.

Our M Sport tester doesn’t come with a heated steering wheel. If you want this feature you’ll need to step up to the M Sport Pro which is over $15,000 more expensive.

All the buttons on the steering wheel are logically placed and have a clicky and satisfying feedback when pressed. It’s nice to have matte-finish physical buttons rather than piano black touch-sensitive ones because they don’t look dirty as quickly.

Behind the steering wheel is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that’s classic BMW affair in terms of style and presentation. It’s clear and bright, with all the presented information being easy to read.

You’re able to configure the content on the digital instrument cluster in a number of different ways, though you can do more in a Volkswagen Group vehicle for example.

Disappointingly there’s no head-up display as standard on the iX3 M Sport. It’s another feature you need to step up to the M Sport Pro in order to receive.

Unsurprisingly the centrepiece of the dashboard the iX3’s 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It sits proudly on top of the dashboard and is separate from the digital instrument cluster.

The touchscreen is crisp and clear which makes reading text very easy. It also appears to have plenty of processing power which means it boots up quickly upon startup and new pages load fast.

Touch input responses are really sensitive. You don’t need to smoosh your finger on the screen for it to register, and can instead tap lightly. This feels very natural and almost smartphone-like.

If you’re worried about getting fingerprints on the touchscreen you can alternatively use the iDrive rotary dial to navigate through the system. It’s pretty seamless to use in the native interface, though once you try to use it in Apple CarPlay or Android Auto things can be a little more disjointed.

Speaking of smartphone mirroring, the BMW iX3 M Sport comes standard with wired and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. With my iPhone 15 Pro Max connected wirelessly the connection was okay, though toll booths and known interference points caused dropouts. I found plugging in my phone with a USB-A cable was more reliable.

As standard there’s a wireless phone charger which did surprisingly charge my large phone, though it slid around on the charging pad. It would be nice if the wireless charger had a gripping mechanism like the X1 and X2 to secure it in place.

The iX3 M Sport comes with a connected satellite navigation system which has a dated interface, but is good if you need to navigate home from somewhere where you don’t have phone signal.

Looking around the cabin the perceived quality is fantastic – much like every BMW I’ve experienced to date. Something to note is the iX3 is produced in China unlike other BMWs which are typically built in Germany or the US.

It’s good to see the iX3 retains physical climate control buttons. I don’t understand why BMW, among countless other carmakers, have started burying these functions in touchscreens because this physical application is still sleek, elegant and easy to understand.

The same can be said for the wide range of physical buttons and controls on the rest of the dashboard and centre tunnel. I particularly like how the volume dial is on the passenger side for easy access and isn’t tucked away from view.

Despite technically being a base model there are still plenty of soft touches around the cabin. Most notably on top of the dashboard and the armrests. There are some harder finishes down low however, including where your knee rests on the sides of the centre tunnel.

Up front there is enough storage for your everyday bits and bobs, including a decent centre console box, glovebox and door pockets. Disappointingly the latter isn’t lined in felt like some European carmakers do to minimise rattling.

The iX3 M Sport comes with an unbranded six-speaker sound system that definitely punches above its weight. It’s enough to make me question why you would want to step up to the M Sport Pro which gets a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

Hopping into the second row of the iX3 is easy as the doors open very wide. It’s not quite 90 degrees though it will certainly make installing child seats a lot easier.

At a leggy 182cm I surprisingly only just had enough legroom behind my own driving position to sit comfortably, though head-, shoulder- and toe-room were great. It’s also nice to see the backrest reclines to make it even more comfortable for second-row passengers.

Strangely despite being an EV there’s a transmission hump in the floor which makes the middle seat feel a bit perched. This isn’t uncommon in EVs that are based on internal combustion engine (ICE) platforms.

In terms of second-row amenities there’s a third zone of climate control, two USB-C ports, as well as a centre armrest with cupholders.

Around the back the powered tailgate opens quickly and quietly which is something I can’t say for some other mid-size SUVs. Once the tailgate is open you’re presented with 510 litres of boot space which is a good usable amount. It expands to 1560 litres with the rear seats folded.

One feature I like about the iX3’s boot is there’s a bright light on the tailgate which makes loading items easier at nighttime. If you’ve got long items as well the rear bench folds in a 40:20:40 configuration.

The iX3 has some underfloor storage that can be used to stow your charging cables, as well as the cargo blind. It’s not a huge space and the Tesla Model Y offers more.

There’s no spare wheel though BMW does include a tyre repair kit. This is unfortunately common with EVs and something to keep in mind if you frequently do long drives away from the city/town and tyre repair centres.

Dimensions BMW iX3 M Sport
Length 4734mm
Width 1891mm
Height 1668mm
Wheelbase 2864mm
Boot capacity 510-1560 litres

To see how the BMW iX3 lines up against the competition, check out our comparison tool.

What’s under the bonnet?

The iX3 range is powered by a single rear-mounted electric motor – despite this there’s no ‘frunk’ like some EVs.

Model BMW iX3 M Sport
Drivetrain Single-motor electric
Battery 80kWh lithium-ion
Power 210kW
Torque 400Nm
Drive type Rear-wheel drive
Weight 2270kg (kerb)
Claimed range 460km (WLTP)
Observed energy consumption 16.3kWh/100km (equiv. 490km range)
Max DC charge rate 150kW
Max AC charge rate 11kW

We achieved the observed 16.3kWh/100km energy consumption figure over 400km of mixed urban and highway driving. It’s a pretty good figure for a non-Tesla EV, though a Model 3 and Model Y are both more efficient.

To see how the BMW iX3 lines up against the competition, check out our comparison tool.

How does the BMW iX3 drive?

Starting up the iX3 is easy and familiar if you’ve driven a BMW before. The start button is on the centre tunnel and is bright blue to signify this car is all electric.

When the button is pressed a sound plays indicating the car is ready to be driven. At a standstill the iX3 is unsurprisingly quiet as there’s no engine chugging away under the bonnet – this can be really bizarre if you’ve never driven an EV before, but you soon get used to it.

To set off you interact with the cute and stubby gear selector on the centre tunnel. You push it backwards to engage drive and forwards to engage reverse. In order to select park you need to click the ‘P’ button behind the shifter which is one of the few piano black elements in the cabin.

Like all BMW EVs, there are two ways to drive the iX3. There’s the typical ‘D’ mode where the iX3 creeps forward like a combustion-powered car and you need to press the brake pedal to come to a complete stop.

There’s also ‘B’ mode that can be activated by pushing back on the gear selector one more time once ‘D’ is activated. This is more like a one-pedal driving mode that allows the car to come to a complete stop without touching the brake.

You do still need to use the brake pedal at points to slow down faster, but it’s my preferred way of driving an EV.

One disappointing thing is when you select reverse after being in the ‘B’ driving mode, you’ll need to use your brake to modulate the speed and come to a complete stop. There’s no one-pedal driving mode for reverse like a Tesla has.

Another frustrating point is the iX3 doesn’t remember you had ‘B’ mode activated once you go back into drive. I remember the i5 I drove late last year did, which is so bizarre. This means you’ll need to remember to push the gear selector down twice to reactivate ‘B’ mode after doing a three-point turn, for example.

The single rear-mounted electric motor provides plenty of oomph to get you away from a standstill with ease. If you’re liberal with the throttle application you’ll initially be smacked in the back with some force.

From there the acceleration is progressive and natural. For those interested, you’ll easily win the traffic light grand prix.

Even at lower speeds you can tell this vehicle is built on great bones. The combustion-powered X3 is a fantastically dynamic SUV to drive and its rear-wheel biased dynamism can be felt through the iX3.

This electric SUV is also surprising agile despite weighing over 2.2 tonnes. I found myself corner carving around town and in the city with a huge grin.

Something to note about the iX3 is it’s only available in a single rear-mounted electric motor form. There’s no dual-motor option meaning no all-wheel drive. If you frequently visit the snow for example, this might rule the iX3 out for you.

Around town you’ll be in utter comfort as the iX3 M Sport comes with standard adaptive suspension that’s very good at soaking up road imperfections. The damping force varies depending on whether you have ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’, or ‘Eco Pro’ driving modes selected.

The iX3’s steering feel is definitely on the lighter side but is still direct and confidence-inspiring. One downside of this is you sometimes need to twirl the steering wheel a bit from lock-to-lock, especially when navigating tight car parks.

As standard there are front and rear parking sensors, though disappointingly there’s only a reversing camera. Sure the camera quality is decent, but if you want a surround-view camera you need to step up to the M Sport Pro.

There’s also a Parking Assistant which is a handy feature for when you want the car to handle parallel or perpendicular parking for you, though in practice it’s not the brightest. I could do much better myself.

Building up speed in the iX3 M Sport is really easy. It doesn’t ever feel like the car is working too hard which is sometimes the case with EVs as they get up to higher speeds.

You can tell this vehicle has been designed for use on Germany’s autobahns as it feels properly rock solid at higher speeds. This likely once again comes down to the iX3 being built on a fantastic chassis.

Cruising along highways and freeways the iX3 is almost whisper quiet with muted road and wind noise. It makes the cabin a rather serene place to be. Our tester’s panoramic sunroof however made some creaks while driving which was more noticeable given how quiet it was.

Just like at lower speeds, the adaptive suspension soaks up almost every highway road imperfection. It pairs well with the direct steering feel that makes even mundane sweeping bends a fun experience.

On the safety front the adaptive cruise control system is good but also very European. What I mean by this is the system doesn’t allow undertaking which is frustrating because lane etiquette isn’t the best in Australia.

If you want to undertake with adaptive cruise control active in the iX3 you need to hold the accelerator down. It’s a little different to how Volkswagen Group vehicles tackle the same situation. In those vehicles you can tap the accelerator once and it will undertake the car for you.

The lane centring system called ‘Steering + Lane Control Assistant’ is very good at keeping the iX3 within its lane at higher speeds on well-marked roads with subtle adjustments. I found at lower speeds however the system almost has too much time to make adjustments and meanders within the lane instead.

Lastly, the iX3 M Sport still comes with a fantastic set of adaptive LED headlights. These types of headlights are great for driving in rural and regional areas at nighttime where you need to constantly be on the lookout for animals on the side of the road.

What do you get?

On test here is the entry-level iX3 M Sport.

BMW iX3 M Sport highlights:

  • M Sport package
  • M High-Gloss Shadow Line
  • M Roof Rails High-Gloss Shadow Line
  • 19-inch alloy wheels
  • Adaptive LED headlights
  • LED tail lights
  • Panoramic glass sunroof
  • Powered tailgate
  • Adaptive suspension
  • Heat pump
  • 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
  • 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Wired and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Satellite navigation
  • 6-speaker sound system
  • Wireless charger
  • Tri-zone climate control
  • Interior ambient lighting
  • Anti-dazzle interior and exterior mirrors
  • Aluminium M footrest and pedal covers
  • Illuminated door sill finishers
  • Galvanic embellishers for controls
  • Anthracite headliner
  • Luggage compartment net
  • M leather steering wheel
  • Leather ‘Vernasca’ upholstery
  • Sensatec leatherette instrument panel
  • Electric front seat adjustment
  • Driver’s seat backrest width adjustment
  • Heated front seats

All six paint finishes, including the metallic ones, are free of charge. There are also three different leather upholstery and three interior trim choices.

Is the BMW iX3 safe?

The BMW iX3 did have a five-star ANCAP safety rating from 2017 but it has now expired meaning the car is unrated.

Standard safety equipment includes:

  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with crossroads warning
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Front and rear cross-traffic alert
  • Evasion assistant
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
  • Speed limit assist
  • Steering + Lane Control Assistant (Level 2 autonomous mode)
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Reversing camera
  • Parking Assistant
  • Tyre pressure monitor
  • Tyre repair kit

How much does the BMW iX3 cost to run?

The iX3 has the same warranty as the broader is BMW range in Australia.

Ownership Program BMW iX3
Warranty 5 years, unlimited kilometres
EV battery warranty 8 years, 160,000km
Total service cost – 6 years $2325 – Service Inclusive Basic

BMW includes a 12-month complimentary Chargefox subscription with the iX3 M Sport, though the top-spec M Sport Pro gets a longer five-year subscription. If you’re someone who frequently fast charges this might be something to consider, though if you get the car through a novated lease you can typically get charging included in your payments.

I did one session at a 150kW DC fast charger during my time with our tester and disappointingly wasn’t able to get the charge rate over 80kW. For reference, the iX3’s maximum DC charging rate is 150kW. After looking at the charging history of the particular charger on Plugshare I found this charging rate wasn’t uncommon.

I also noted I hadn’t turned on the battery preconditioning feature on my way to the charger which may have bumped up the charging rate. It’s hidden in a menu on the touchscreen which isn’t the easiest to find on the move.

CarExpert’s Take on the BMW iX3

The electric BMW iX3, like the combustion-powered X3, is a right-sized vehicle for many people, including smaller families.

There’s enough storage space, though the combustion platform underpinnings limits the storage capabilities relative to other electric SUVs.

In entry-level M Sport guise as tested here, there are only a few notable omissions in terms of standard equipment, though the car is largely feature-filled.

If you want features like a surround-view camera or branded stereo system, for example, you can step up the iX3 M Sport Pro if you’d like – but be prepared to splash out an extra $15,800 for the privilege.

What doesn’t feel entry-level about the iX3 M Sport is the way looks, feels and drives. The X3’s stellar rear-wheel drive dynamism and chassis tuning shines through in the iX3, making it a rewarding car to commute in and drive on the open road.

If you can live with the iX3 being rear-drive-only then this car is definitely worth considering if you’re looking at an electric SUV with a premium badge. Even better, the iX3 M Sport currently slides under the luxury car tax (LCT) threshold for fuel-efficient vehicles making it exempt from fringe benefits tax (FBT).

If the iX3 M Sport doesn’t necessarily float your boat, there are plenty of other BMW EVs currently under the LCT threshold that are worth considering – one of my personal favourites is the i4 eDrive35 electric liftback.

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