A duo of BMW BEV models blasted into South Africa this week and we were at the national ride and drive event to experience the new offerings first-hand.

BMW has been selling electric/electrified vehicles in SA for some time now. The first was the i3, quickly followed by the Mini-E and the i8 sportscar. This week BMW South Africa added two new, pure electric models to its sales listing. The new BMW BEV (for battery electric vehicle) models consist of the iX3 SUV and i4 M50 coupe.

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The BMW iX3 is a pure electric version of the popular BMW X3 range. By adding this derivative to the line-up BMW SA now offers a diesel, petrol and EV version of the same model in our market, which is a first for the brand. 

The BMW iX3 is based on the current generation X3. It may look similar to its siblings but it features BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive technology. The drivetrain consists of an integrated electric motor, transmission and power electronics in a single housing. The 80 kWh battery has a fast-charging (ie DC) rate of up to 150 kW. At that rate, 10 minutes of recharge time adds about 100 km of range. 

An interesting comparison

We spent the most time behind the wheel of the BMW iX3 at the recent event. In the days leading up to the electromobility presentation we drove a turbodiesel X3 in and around Johannesburg. The X3 is a great SUV, spacious with a decent ride and well insulated interior.

Read our BMW X3M Competition driving review by clicking here.

The iX3 bumps up those hallmarks up to a new level. The EV drivetrain is silent, and so is the cabin. Thanks to instantaneous torque delivery the iX3 can also dart into and out of traffic in ways that the, comparatively speaking, laggy turbodiesel can’t. 

With a traditional ICE one has to plan quick manoeuvres and account for transmission and engine response delays. The iX3 has a single-speed transmission and peak torque is always at the ready. 210 kW of power is allied with peak torque of 400 N.m. As a result, acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h is said to take 6,8 seconds. BMW quotes a driving range of up to 460 kilometres.

BMW i4 M50

The other new BMW BEV that made its SA debut this week was the BMW i4. You can probably tell that this is based on the four-door coupe, known in BMW-speak as Gran Coupe. The i4 uses the same base as other siblings but does away with any form of ICE. Instead, it features two electric motors, one per axle, for propulsion. 

Read our BMW 420d Gran Coupe driving review at this link.

Performance fans may be keen to note that the i4 M50 is the very first EV to be developed by BMW’s M performance arm. The two electric motors offer 400 kW of power and 795 N.m of torque. The 84 kWh battery can provide up to 510 km of travel on a full charge.

Blast Off

Thanks to all-wheel-drive, BMW says the i4 M50 sprint from o-100 km/h in 3,9-seconds. That time is equivalent to a RWD BMW M4, although the i4 M50 has a lower top speed of 225 km/h.

Watch our BMW M4 Competition video review by clicking here.

We tried the standstill acceleration a few times on the local drive event and it is brutal. The car even has a launch control function, although it does not need to temper engine revs for a smooth pull away from standstill. In fact, the acceleration, particularly from the passenger seat, can leave one feeling a tad queasy as you are mashed into your seat each and every time the driver decides to unleash almost 800 N.m of torque with virtually no time lag.

Sporty sensations

The BMW i4 M50 boasts a centre of gravity that is 53 mm lower than a typical 3 Series. In turn, this provides the car with a more connected and sportier feel through the seat of one’s pants. A battery pack that is mounted low down and the all-wheel-drive also create a driving sensation that makes the sportiest BMW EV (for now) a handy and enjoyable car to fling around.

Noise or no noise

Most EVs trundle along in near silence. The BMW BEVs can do the same. However, BMW enlisted the services of famed composer, Hans Zimmer, to create a ‘soundtrack’ for the BMW i4. Occupants can choose the level of sound they wish to enjoy, each level louder and more ominous. Or, they can revert to virtual silence if desired. Check out the video below for more.


The electric car revolution has arrived. Fans of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars may not appreciate their electrically powered siblings, but whether they like it or not these alternatives are arriving on our shores with ever increasing frequency.

To date you can buy an EV from Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mini, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche and this list will only grow in time. The two new BMW BEV models are just the tip of the spear in terms of the German automaker’s EV assault. More models will be coming, each with longer ranges, shorter charging times and more power. 

BMW BEV Pricing

iX3 R1 290 000
i4 M50 R1 600 000

Prices include a complimentary wallbox charger and free charging at any BMW Group-branded charging station.