New BMW X3 replacement to grow in size and feature a minimalist dash

BMW’s first Neue Klasse electric SUV could carry the iX3 nameplate and our exclusive images preview how it might look

BMW Neue Klasse SUV exclusive image - front

BMW grabbed headlines at this autumn’s Munich Motor Show with its preview of the next-gen 3 Series, the Vision Neue Klasse concept. But Auto Express can reveal that the radical rethink of the iconic executive saloon could actually be beaten in the race to showrooms by a Neue Klasse SUV, potentially carrying the iX3 badge.

BMW teased the vehicle in a video issued earlier this year, and recent spy images have shown that the company’s engineers are indeed hard at work on a new family-sized SUV that features a slightly different profile from the existing X3.

The more rakish roof and lengthened wheelbase are signs that this car sits on the Neue Klasse platform. This incorporates a more efficient battery-cell configuration that allows its floor to be slightly thinner than existing EV layouts, which in turn helps the roofline to be lower, reducing the frontal area and improving the car’s efficiency.

The longer wheelbase – facilitated by repositioned bulky hidden items like the heating and ventilation systems, without compromises for combustion-engine cooling – should increase cabin space, allowing this X3-sized model to deliver passenger accommodation more in line with that of the larger X5.

BMW boss Oliver Zipse has previously said that we should expect six models based on the Neue Klasse architecture to appear by the second half of the decade – and sources indicate that the SUV will arrive at roughly the same time as the saloon. There’s even a chance that the iX3 could be on sale first, with a debut in late 2025.

BMW Neue Klasse exclusive image - rear

Our exclusive images interpret the camouflaged test car’s looks, along with those of the Munich show car, which was said to be around 80 per cent of what we should expect in production form. Radical elements like the side cameras may be replaced by mirrors, but our images show how the concept’s adventurous reworking of BMW’s double-kidney grille could be reworked for a higher-set bonnet line.

BMW development boss Frank Weber has told us to expect Neue Klasse models to have “30 per cent more range, 30 per cent faster charging and 25 per cent more efficiency” than existing vehicles. Based on the current iX3’s claimed range of up to 285 miles, the Neue Klasse SUV could deliver over 350 miles between recharges, around 80 miles down on the lower and more aerodynamically efficient saloon. The taller model should get the same fast charging speed, though, of up to 270kW.

Inside, we can expect the Neue Klasse SUV to feature a bespoke version of the Vision Neue Klasse’s minimalist dash, complete with a wider Panoramic Vision set-up. This new 3D head-up display projects info onto the base of the windscreen and runs the entire width of the vehicle, allowing the front-seat passenger to interact with elements like infotainment and navigation, while keeping relevant data in front of the driver.

This display is paired up with a large touchscreen, and widgets can be transferred between this and the windscreen strip. BMW’s project lead on user interfaces, Oliver Pitrat, has told us that the new system is scalable for different widths and screen angles, so it’s all but certain to feature in the upcoming SUV.

Regular versions of the Neue Klasse SUV are likely to feature a single rear motor, but key officials from BMW’s M performance division have already flagged up that Neue Klasse could offer them scope for a quad-motor, four-wheel-drive configuration. It’s unlikely that this will appear in the first wave of Neue Klasse SUVs, though, with a debut beyond 2027 more likely.

As well as this SUV and the saloon, BMW is likely to bring a coupé, an estate and a larger X5-sized SUV to market as part of its initial Neue Klasse push. The company’s target is for at least 50 per cent of its sales to be pure electric by 2030, but it suggested earlier this year that it is on track to achieve this goal earlier than that.

Click here for our list of the best electric SUVs on sale right now...

Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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