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WATTS WITH BMW?

WATTS WITH BMW?

Tessa R. Salazar

A 4-day date with the German carmaker’s iX3 EV SAV incurs no charges

 

In the four days that I drove the battery electric vehicle (BEV) BMW iX3 M Sport, not once did I visit an EV charging station. Not that I dislike going to charging stations. Something about energy transfer fascinates the frustrated scientist in me. It’s just that getting juiced up in EV charging stations can be frustrating, often for the very reason that finding EV charging stations in the nation’s capital and its immediate environs can be challenging in itself. For now, at least.

So, what I did immediately after receiving the key for for the iX3 from the kind and accommodating security personnel at RSA Motors headquarters in Greenhills was to plan in my head where I’d be going during those four days, so that I’d fall well within the EV’s usable 350-or-so-kilometer range.

The BMW iX3 M Sport is the electric version of the X3 SAV (sport activity vehicle) and is the second fully electric BMW automobile introduced in the Philippines. It debuted here in late January 2023. Being an animal lover, I’ll never forget that night when BMW Philippines president Spencer Yu proudly announced that this full EV SAV had been fitted with man-made seat upholstery that had the same suppleness, the same feel as animal-based leather, so no cows or cattle were sacrificed in the making of the car seats.

The first thing I noticed when I sat behind the wheel was the variety of driving modes offered—Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport. For my 4-day objective, however, I needed to be on Eco Pro almost all the time. I would be driving in the cities and in stop-and-go traffic—conditions that energy-thrifty Eco Pro driving would be most suitable for to optimize the battery range.

So, where did I go during those four days? From the car’s garage in RSA Greenhills, I went straight to my home in Las Piñas City. That was a Friday. The next day, Saturday, I went on a business trip to General Trias in Cavite, then onwards to dinner in Tagaytay City. In Cavite, I drove through a rare occurrence in this hellish summer, a very heavy downpour. So heavy that I could only see a few meters ahead. The third day, Sunday, was a rest day for me and the iX3. And then on the 4th day, Monday, I went out and visited some relatives in Quezon City before returning this car to the RSA garage back in Greenhills.

My total trip distance for those four days was nearly 300 km. And when I returned the unit, it still had just a bit over 100 km of usable range left. The energy recovery technology in the iX3 is remarkable, especially during the long downhill drive from Tagaytay City to Las Piñas, during which the iX3’s Adaptive Recuperation and Brake Energy Regeneration added substantial kilometers.

There were other useful advanced driver assistance systems that worked for me during my four-day drive, such as the Forward Collision Warning alert, which came out when a cyclist suddenly cut me off in an intersection.

Also helpful was the proximity warning system on all sides, especially when I navigated through narrow driveways. The details in the digital instrument cluster, the odometer, speedometer, average speed, range to empty, etc., were easy to see at a glance. The infotainment monitor has simple, easy-to-digest layouts, particularly for the energy flow that indicates electric drive or charging, the range and the potential additional usable kilometers if the air-con is turned off. For more technical specifications, this iX3 features the BMW Live Cockpit Professional (complete with an onboard navigation system) which includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 12.3inch widescreen display which operates on the iDrive Operating System 7.0. The wireless smartphone integrates with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Remote software upgrade and wireless charging are available. The hi-fi loudspeaker system Harman Kardon comes as standard.

Though this SAV didn’t look all that spacious, I was quite surprised that I was able to comfortably seat four more people with me on my Monday drive, and even squeezed in some luggage, a backpack, and a wheelchair (folded, of course) in the rear compartment. This proves that this iX3 is as spacious and versatile as its conventional ICE-powered BMW X3 model variants. In terms of actual cargo volume, the iX3’s load capacity with folded seats expands from 510 to 1,560 liters. The intense summer heat wasn’t a problem for back passengers, because they had their own air-con vent and fan controls. Apart from the USB ports found below the infotainment system, there were additional USB ports for back passengers near the air vents, as well as inside the center cubby hole.

As far as exterior design goes, well, I leave it up to the beholder to judge. Personally, I like its robustness. The front kidney grille typical of a BMW is a dominating feature. It can either draw you in or distract you. The rear, on the other hand, is meant to reduce air resistance, as explained by BMW designers.

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BMW Philippines disclosed that the local iX3 variant is available with the “Inspiring” equipment line. This standard specification comprises a wide array of details, including the M Aerodynamic Package, M high-gloss Shadow line, M roof rails, aerodynamically designed 19-inch light-alloy wheels, and Adaptive LED headlights.

BMW Philippines told me that one of highlights of the iX3 M Sport’s interior is the use of sustainable materials to substantially reduce the car’s carbon footprint. This includes the use of man-made materials, such as the Sensatec perforated upholstery in the cabin. The steering wheel of the iX3 I drove, however, still had Nappa leather, so I’m still hoping that BMW designers will finish what they started and finally wrap those wheels in animal-free materials.

As a come-on for buyers, every purchase of the iX3 comes with a iWallbox charger installed by BMW technicians right at the customer’s home. The iWallbox comes with a 5-year BMW factory warranty, an 8-year high-voltage battery warranty, and a 6-year BMW Service Inclusive warranty. The iX3 and iWallbox package is available at RSA Motors Libis and RSA Motors Greenhills dealerships.

The iX3 is also equipped with electrically adjustable seats with memory function on the driver’s side (the front passenger seat is likewise electrically adjustable), a panoramic glass sunroof, acoustic glazing for the front door windows, ambient lighting, three-zone automatic climate control system, the BMW Comfort Access System, and automatic tailgate operation.

With the iX3 also comes new technical features debuting in the fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology. These include an innovative charging unit, sending power to both the 400-volt battery, and the 12-volt on-board power supply. When using alternating current (AC) terminals, it enables both single-phase and three-phase charging up to 11 kW. Plugging the vehicle into a direct current (DC) fast-charging station facilitates charging outputs of up to 150 kW. The high-voltage battery in the iX3 can, therefore, be charged from 0 to 80-percent of its full capacity in 34 minutes. At its maximum DC fast-charging, drivers can inject power enough for 100 km in just 10 minutes of charging. The iX3 is compatible with all Type 2 public charging stations in the country.