Electric version of BMW's X3 SUV will feature a new four-wheel drive powertrain; following 'i' models will utilise different forms of the set-up

BMW will preview its first electric SUV model this week with the unveiling of a new concept car at the Beijing motor show.

The BMW iX3 has now been revealed in concept form. Click here to see it.

This will be the precursor to a proper production car, predicted to be named the i3X, that's set to rival the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi E-tron. It will use BMW's fifth-generation (and most advanced) electric powertrain technology when it arrives on roads in 2019.

The iX3 will arrive as part of the updated third-generation X3 range and be the first car to use all-new zero-emissions underpinnings that are being developed for use in all of BMW’s future EVs.

Prior to the release of two preview images that show the car's flat-faced wheel design and front grille opening, spy photographers caught an i3X development car testing in Scandinavia, where the range of its battery pack was being evaluated in conditions that regularly dip below -10deg C.

The electric powertrain of the test car, which is based on the current X3 that arrived last year, was evident from the lack of tailpipes.

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This sighting of an electric X3 so early into the iX3's development cycle shows that the platform of the future line-up is being engineered to adopt an electric powertrain from the off. This is essential for effective packaging to ensure interior space is not compromised by the placement of batteries in the car’s floor.

The iX3's structure is a development of BMW’s CLAR structure, which underpins the new X3, as well as the latest 5 Series and 7 Series models and the 2019 3 Series.

Although the iX3 will feature a grille-free nose, its overall design is unlikely to drastically differ from its combustion engine siblings'. The BMW Group’s latest stance on EV design is to be more discreet; Mini brand boss Sebastian Mackensen told Autocar recently that the marque “doesn’t need to make a big statement” about EVs.

The iX3 will use two electric motors, one mounted up front driving the front wheels and one at the rear, within the axle assembly, driving the rear wheels. This set-up will enable torque vectoring to enhance traction. 

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The iX3's architecture will be used in 11 further electric BMWs due to arrive by 2025, but not all of those cars will adopt the twin-motor setup. Models less concerned with four-wheel-drive traction could adopt a simpler layout, with a front-mounted electric motor in combination with a fixed-ratio gearbox and so-called electric propeller shaft to channel drive to the rear wheels.

Each of BMW's new electric models will have an 'i' at the start of its name to signify its EV status. BMW recently patented a list of nine names spanning from iX1 to iX9, although not all will necessarily be used, because most will be aligned with models in the existing line-up. The largest confirmed model for BMW’s future range is the X7.

BMW patented the i1 to i9 names back in 2010, before the i3 and i8 arrived. The brand recently announced that it will produce an electric version of the future 4 Series GT, called the i4, in 2020, and an i5, which was previewed by the i Vision Dynamics concept, in 2021.

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Comments
13

1 March 2018

Surely this will come as part of a mid-life update to the (new) current X3.

On a related issue, I was surprised that I can fit a set of golf clubs across the boot of my 640D but you can't in the supposedly more practical X3.

 

jhg

1 March 2018
johnhg wrote:

On a related issue, I was surprised that I can fit a set of golf clubs across the boot of my 640D but you can't in the supposedly more practical X3.

 

Yeah, I am sure that the fact that you can’t put a set of golf clubs in sideways will put so many buyers off.  Oh, wait, they can put them in lengthways, or diagonally, or several sets one on top of another (bet you can’t do that in a 640d!).

1 March 2018

Funny how the writer of this article thinks that the lack of water vapour out of this car’s tailpipes is evidence of the car’s electric Powertrain.

I would have thought that the fact that it doesn’t actually have any tailpipes might be an even bigger clue!

1 March 2018

Actually Martin66, you can put the back seat of my 640GC down and carry two sets of clubs and two electric tolleys etc in it. Not everyone wants to pile stuff on top of other stuff so that it obscures rearward vision, is on show and is unstable. Maybe a small sample of potential customers but the salesman I spoke to said he has lost X3 sales for that reason. (A fair number of XK8 owners never switched to the later XK because, for a grand tourer, its boot was pretty useless. )

jhg

1 March 2018

......and with the back seats down where do the rear seat passengers go?  Do they sit on the electric trolleys?

1 March 2018

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that for the same amount of stuff you would also have to put the rear seats of the X3 down - and that, because of its internal width restrictions, for golfists (as Clarkson terms us) it doesn't offer much over our Mk1 Countryman, which takes up a lot less road space.

jhg

1 March 2018

We have a mark 1 X3, and the boot space is huge.  This latest one is even bigger.  There is absolutely no way that you will ever be able to put as much stuff in the  back of a 6 series as you can in an X3, golf clubs sideways notwithstanding.

You have to remember who this car is aimed at - families, I.e. people with children, people who need a big boot and space for 4 or 5people and all their baggage, not retired old duffers who spend their days at the golf club.

23 April 2018

I see autocar have fallen for BMW's marketing hype. If this was JLR we would have people complaining about that rather than golf clubs. Double standards as usual from Autocar readers.

23 April 2018

That grille is a disgrace.

23 April 2018

Grille design by the two Ronnies, with assistance from Dame Edna Everage.

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Our Verdict

BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series' outstanding performance and handling makes it a complete and consummate all-rounder - but then the Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Guilia arrived

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week