Here’s BMW’s electric replacement for the X3—production starts in 2025

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A BMW Vision Neue Klasse X concept in the courtyard of a modern house

CASCAIS, Portugal—BMW is one of the more advanced automakers when it comes to electrification. Its current portfolio of electric vehicles includes the iX and i7, both of which have the edge on the competition in their respective classes—not bad for cars that use an underlying architecture that was designed to be powertrain-agnostic. Engineers back at the corporate base in Munich have been hard at work on its next platform, though, which will be just for battery EVs and will debut with next year’s Neue Klasse.

Last year, we saw a preview of what the Neue Klasse sedan should look like when it goes on sale in 2025. Now, we’ve seen the Vision Neue Klasse X, which will morph next year into BMW’s next electric crossover, probably with the iX3 nameplate. It will be an important car for the German automaker; crossovers and SUVs fail to get any less popular with the car-buying public, and demand for the production version of the Neue Klasse X will surely outstrip that of the four-door car.

BMW would prefer to call its X cars “Sports Activity Vehicles” rather than SUVs or crossovers and argues that it invented the breed with the original X5. That car was a handsome machine, and the Neue Klasse X keeps those classic two-box proportions and adorns them with bold angular creases that emphasize the wheel arches and create some negative space lower down the car’s side that has the effect of reducing its visual bulk.

BMW SAVs will sport upright kidney grilles in the future.
Enlarge / BMW SAVs will sport upright kidney grilles in the future.

BMW

Sharp creases at the front feed into a new, upright kidney grille that we’ll see more of in future electric X BMWs. The kidney grille is backlit and complemented by three-dimensional headlights that include the car’s daytime running lights. As the driver approaches the car, the lights display a welcome sequence that continues into the interior lighting.

“The X models will always remain strong in character: monolithic, clean, and with a very distinctive vertical interpretation of the BMW light signature,” said head of BMW Group design Adrian van Hooydonk.

The Vision Neue Klasse X’s interior appears closer to production reality than the one we saw in the sedan concept. BMW says it wants drivers to “keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road,” so there’s a new multifunction steering wheel that replaces the scrollwheel iDrive controller you’ll find on the center console of current BMWs. It uses the same warm-touch crystal material as the iDrive controller in the iX and i7, and has haptics built-in for driver feedback.

But it won’t be an entirely voice- and touchscreen-operated HMI. BMW told us that the production version will have more physical buttons and knobs for commonly used controls—presumably climate and audio settings. You’ll definitely find an evolution of BMW’s current AI assistant, which it’s giving more of a personality. At CES this year, BMW showed us a preview of this that leveraged Amazon Alexa.

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