BMW is setting up the new X3 Sports Activity Coupe as the company’s electromobility poster child. Motor1.com recently posted photos of two variants of the X3 having fun in the Scandinavian snow during winter testing. And completely without camouflage, which makes sense, since we already know what an X3 looks like.
One X3 is obviously an electric vehicle since it has a sign on the door that says “Electric Test Vehicle.” We’re guessing that must be the all-electric X3 we’ve heard will be ready for prime time in 2020. It will be the first BMW X vehicle without an internal combustion engine and may be badged as an iX3.
Other clues to the probability that these spy shots have caught a pure electric X3 include the absence of any exhaust pipes in the back. That’s a pretty clean looking rear end. The vehicle has substantial kidney grilles up front, but we wonder if they will even be functional since there will be no radiator and the electric motor will not require nearly as much cooling airflow as a combustion engine.
One item on this prototype has us wondering. This test X3 has a door in the right rear fender that could be for electric charging, since that is the same location as the charging door on the BMW i3. But that would make the door on the left front fender superfluous, even thought that is where the electric charging hatch is on all BMW plug-in hybrids. It certainly doesn’t need both. Perhaps BMW didn’t want to spend the extra money for a single filler door on the prototype, but it will be interesting to see the real location for refilling electrons when the production models show up.
The other X3 spotted during winter testing definitely needs both doors, since it is a plug-in hybrid. We know that because of the two filler doors, the tailpipes, and the “Hybrid Test Vehicle” sign on the door.
Comparing the two, the front and rear fasciae are certainly different. The most significant difference between the two, other than one uses gasoline and one uses electricity, may be the engine noise—or lack of engine noise. Perhaps when the world has more electric-only vehicles, tire manufacturers will start advertising noise levels made by the tires. Sooner or later, legislatures will mandate that your electric vehicle has to generate enough noise to give pedestrians and bicyclists a fighting chance to hear you coming.
When these two models come on line, the BMW X3 will have the most diverse selection of drivetrains in the BMW catalog, with gasoline, diesel, plug-in hybrid, and pure electric variants.—Scott Blazey