BMW iX3 M Sport Pro: long-term test review

First report: our car, complete with its Hans Zimmer soundtrack, is striking all the right notes

  • 4.5 out of 5

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    While the best is yet to come, I like that my iX3 has been sprinkled with some of Hans Zimmer’s musical magic. It’s proving a really easy car to live with, too; efficiency has been strong through the warmer months, and the big boot and raised ride height make it an excellent family SUV – despite its ICE-car underpinnings.

    • Mileage: 5.039
    • Efficiency: 3.4 miles/kWh
    • Have you ever taken a moment to consider all the beeps and bongs your car makes as you start it up and drive along? Many of these are designed to blend into the background; Volvo’s very proud of its indicator sound that’s modelled on the sound of a snapping twig, for example.

      Others are more noticeable – as you’ll know if you’ve ever had an autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system unduly activate when it senses an approaching obstacle you had every intention of avoiding. These noises are created and tuned specifically for their planned use.

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      But BMW is taking things to the next level. Not content with a generic sound library, the designers and engineers at the Munich brand’s HQ have enlisted the help of German film score composer and music producer Hans Zimmer to come up with a series of sounds that will quite literally set the tone in its electric cars for years to come.

      The maker calls it BMW IconicSounds Electric, and its first application can be found in our BMW iX3. It’s not a dedicated playlist on the car’s internal hard drive, or a free subscription to a movie streaming service; Zimmer’s task was to come up with the welcome sound that plays every time you turn the car on.

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      And guess what? Knowing that the man who created it is also responsible for the soundtracks for hits such as The Lion King, Gladiator, and The Pirates of the Caribbean definitely gives me a sense of superiority when I pull out of the local supermarket car park. One of the BMW team’s big targets when commissioning the unusual but interesting project, I’ve no doubt…

      The iX3 is merely the start of a long collaboration between the German brand and Zimmer, however, and the partnership has already evolved. The car maker’s flagship iX features a “specially composed drive sound” – almost mimicking an engine or exhaust, and providing what BMW calls “authentic feedback in response to accelerator movements and speed”.

      I’ve tried it, and I think it’s pretty effective. It’s subtle, but adds an extra dimension to the driving experience, and one that is otherwise lost – especially in such a refined, luxurious and capable electric SUV.

      But while the iX is clearly a step ahead of the iX3 when it comes to luxury and technology, I’ve not been left wanting in either area since the BMW arrived in May. In fact, as I’ve piled on the miles, the iX3 has been impressing with its versatility and comfort.

      It’s proving surprisingly efficient, too. Granted, the warmer weather works wonders for electric range, but I thought the BMW’s battery would take a hammering in the heat, what with the extra energy needed to keep the cabin cool and at a constant temperature. Yet by making good use of the iX3’s EcoPro drive mode and the strong, intuitive regenerative braking set-up, I’m regularly seeing more than 250 miles from a charge – even coming close to the quoted 286-mile maximum on the odd occasion.

      I’ve few complaints about the spec, either. Being the range-topping M Sport Pro, this iX3 comes with everything from twin screens on the dash to 20-inch alloy wheels and a panoramic roof. The only option fitted to my car is a towbar – something, having just complimented the impressive efficiency, I don’t intend to make great use of. I dread to think what effect hitching up a trailer might have on the car’s predicted range.

      The iX3 continues to swallow everything my family needs to carry with a toddler in tow, although I wish it was easier to store the two charging cables under the boot floor. In fact, some storage under the bonnet would be appreciated, too, even if it were only a small tray. I think too many EVs fail to make use of this otherwise wasted space.

      Model:BMW iX3 M Sport Pro
      On fleet since:May 2022
      Price new:£65,865
      Powertrain:80kWh battery/1x e-motor, 282bhp
      Options:Towbar (£850) 
      Insurance*:Group: 44/Quote: £873
      Efficiency:3.4 miles/kWh
      Any problems?None so far

      *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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