All-new BMW iX3 SUV images leak

The upcoming, all-electric BMW iX3 has been leaked ahead of its official launch date.

BMW’s planned launch video has wormed its way into the public domain, giving us our first undisguised look at the SUV’s styling.

The BMW iX3 will enter full production in late summer, at the company’s dedicated facility in Shenyang, China. BMW expects to have the all-electric SUV on sale in 2020, with first customer deliveries expected to arrive towards the end of the year.

When it goes on sale later this year, the BMW iX3 will act as a direct competitor for the “retrofit” electric vehicles such as the Volvo XC40 Recharge P8, Mercedes EQC and Audi e-tron. BMW also says the iX3 will outstrip all of three of these cars on range, with a claimed figure of around 435km per charge.

Cosmetic revisions over the standard iX3 are relatively minor, stretching to a pair of  blanked-off kidney grilles, fresh vertical intakes for the front bumper and a tweaked rear end, which removes the redundant exhaust cutout.

The production model also receives a pair of deeper side skirts, which help to mask the SUV’s underfloor battery pack, along with a set of aerodynamically efficient alloy wheels which and some extra slashes in the bodywork, which BMW has assured us will help to eke the maximum amount of range from the electric SUV’s powertrain.

The iX3 marks a significant shift in BMW’s strategy for its ‘i’-branded electrified vehicles, because unlike the i3 and i8 which are built on dedicated underpinnings, it’s an all-electric model based on an existing model in the firm’s line-up. This differs from EV-only competitors like the e-tron and EQC, and takes a similar approach to the one Volvo has taken for its XC40 Recharge.

BMW has also registered trademarks for the nameplates iX1 through to iX9, suggesting the iX3 could be the first in a broad range of similarly designed, modular, all-electric BMW SUVs. What’s more, after the arrival of the iX3, BMW has promised that it’ll be able to fit any new series model with an all-electric powertrain, thanks to the firm’s flexible new platforms.

The new iX3 will be powered by BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive electric technology, which groups the electric motor, transmission and electronics into a single, bolt-in component. BMW says the new system serves up significant packaging advantages, as well as offering support for larger, more power-dense battery packs.

The battery pack has a claimed capacity of “over” 70kWh, while BMW’s latest-generation electric motor is rated at 198kW. As such, if BMW decided to offer the iX3 with a dual-motor, all-wheel drive powertrain, the car’s maximum power output could stand at 397kW.

Maximum range stands at around 440km, which is better than either the Audi e-tron or the Mercedes EQC – although, it’s around 30km less than the Jaguar I-Pace. However, BMW is yet to push this figure through the final stages of WLTP homologation, so it could drop slightly on the production model.

Like the Audi e-tron, the iX3 will offer support for 150kW fast charging from the factory, thanks to clever battery cooling and temperature control tech. It means that an 80 per cent recharge will be possible in less than half an hour, when plugged into a commercially available rapid-charging station.

Luke Wilkinson

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