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Too little too late – or a case of the best BMW iX3 being left until last?

First Irish drive: BMW iX3 electric Sports Activity Vehicle 


The BMW iX3 crossover: A few nice and simple touches have transformed its look

The BMW iX3 crossover: A few nice and simple touches have transformed its look

The BMW iX3 crossover: A few nice and simple touches have transformed its look

I wouldn’t blame you for being confused.

On the one hand, BMW is coming out with two new electric vehicles – called the iX SAV and the i4 electric coupe respectively.

On the other hand, there is the iX3 – an electric SAV based on the X3. There’s a lot of Xs.

Basically, the first two are new EVs to somewhat reassert BMW’s position in the electric spectrum.

The iX3, meanwhile, is yet another attempt by the Bavarian automaker to make a really good electric version of the X3 crossover.

The first two are being launched here soon; the iX3 has arrived for, surely, January delivery. I drove it here a little while back.

So this is now all about the iX3 OK? Forget the i4 and, for now, the iX.

I was never much of a fan of the iX3 looks. I thought them a bit flat and lacklustre.

But they have wrought some nice, simple touches to make it a more-than-decent looking proposition at last.

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It is impossible not to notice the larger kidney grille (brings it into line with the current X3 styling) while slimmer headlight clusters, an expanded lower air intake, reshaped air curtains all help out front; the rear gets new light and bumper designs.

The overall effect is so much better. Indeed, hard to see it as the same car of yore.

The revised crossover uses the group’s fifth-generation eDrive technology.

That uses a charging unit to send power to the 400v battery and the 12V on-board power supply. It is the first to come with a new flexible fast-charger cable.

Major technical changes are at a minimum so output remains the same (80kWh battery pack slots under the rear seat and the floor of the boot). It can be charged at speeds of up to 150kW with an 80pc top-up taking as little as 34 minutes. Range remains the same at a claimed 460km (I’d knock at least 60km off that).

My driving impressions have always outgunned the iX3 looks. It’s a real driving car, though it eschews AWD: there’s a single electric motor on the rear axle (286bhp). It’s a lot of power and you certainly feel it.

I’d say its biggest attraction is its mid-range acceleration. And I’m fond of the interior; it’s a roomy comfortable machine, nicely decked out and, predictably from me, I loved the high-driving position.

I drove it quite a bit around town where I came to enjoy it a lot. It was big enough to carry four of us and yet physically compact enough not to have me worrying about parking space sizes.

I’ve said it before, and probably will again, but cars generally are outstretching their parking slots.

Price? The iX3 M Sport costs from €74,815, according to the latest list on BMW’s official website.

The same database reveals that the soon-to-be-introduced iX SAV costs from €85,815. So there is a gap of €10,000 or so between them.

It’s a lot and begs the inevitable question: would you buy a revamped electric X3 or spend the extra on a car built from the ground up to be an EV?

It’s a toughie and maybe I’ll have a better idea when I drive the iX shortly. But you’d have to say BMW needed this version of the iX3 years ago when the pitch wasn’t as crowded.

It’s got a lot going for it – room, comfort, looks and handling. But there is a danger of being a little bit late to the party as well.