This shouldn’t be nearly as good an EV as it is. For unlike the BMW i3 that was created in 2013 on a bespoke platform with a wildly expensive carbon-fibre and aluminium hybrid structure to keep it light, the iX3 is basically a standard X3 with no front drive shafts, a battery in the floor and an electric motor driving the rear wheels. It’s a shortcut to an EV SUV, a stopgap, pragmatic, short-term, corner-cutting answer to a rather urgent question.
And yet as far as EV SUVs go, it’s brilliant. First, it’s completely normal. Climb aboard and you’ll struggle to tell you’re not in petrol or diesel X3. Until you start moving. It is of course near silent, but the power is delivered with a lot more sophistication than in a Tesla which still prefers the wham-bam approach to throttle response. And it’s still plenty quick enough. It handles exceptionally well for a car of its size and weight, its range gauge is utterly dependable (around 230 real miles in normal driving) and it’s easy to get over three miles per kilowatt hour even on the motorway.
I know that people younger and trendier than I will welcome the post-modern approach of many EVs, but I found this BMW so easy to understand and effective to use it made me ponder the point of going to the ruinous expense of developing unique EV architectures. Right now and among cars of a similar type, I know none better than this.