The BMW iX is arguably one of the most coveted new EVs on the market. Equipped with a powerful electric drivetrain and an uber cool cabin, it’s easy to see why.
When BMW introduced the i3 back in 2013, it showed the world that it was ahead of the pack when it came to electric cars. That the decade-old model still looks fresh and desirable is a testament to the brand’s achievements.
Since the i3, BMW has fallen behind its rivals where the electric car is concerned. However, the all-new iX represents a fresh restart for the German marque, and it is perhaps its most significant electric-only model to date as the car targets the top end of the segment.
While in terms of size, the iX sits alongside the X5, and to a certain extent the X7, it is extremely different in all other respects. It is a sizeable SUV, or SAV (sports activity vehicle) in BMW speak. And at the front, there’s no avoiding the signature grille which will attract its fair share of comments. That it has no useful function like being a conventional air intake does make you wonder why BMW wanted it on the car in the first place. Perhaps to make a statement?
The rear of the iX looks quite hefty too. You notice it when you open the tailgate to expose a nice, deep boot. The rear pillars are a tad wide and this makes the car look a little strange at some angles but there are also numerous exterior features that I really like.
The frameless windows are stylish and the sleek, angled headlights add a touch of aggressiveness to the nose. Then there are the door handles that lure you into placing your hand in to find a button to open them. They may not be flush with the body but they certainly are innovative, even futuristic.
The pièce de résistance for me are the wheels. I love big ones and at 22-inch, shod with 275/40 R22 tyres, they really stand out from the crowd.
Where the iX scores most of its points is the lovely cabin, which is a total departure from the usual BMW interior design. I like that it looks and feels different when I sit in the car – it is absolutely refreshing.
The aim of the designers is to actualise a comfortable and inviting, lounge-like cabin. Every detail comes together with a wonderful feeling of airiness and simplicity. There is more than ample knee, shoulder and head room for three adults at the rear, while the flat cabin floor adds to the spaciousness. At the front, the seats with the headrest integrated into the backrest look like those found in supercars. You will be relaxed the second you sit on them and feel the snugness.
The dash is as minimal as can be with pretty much all the buttons removed while the centre console is separated from it. The latter’s design is simple and I am stoked that the iDrive controller is retained as it feels like meeting an old friend again – instantly recognisable and familiar. However, it has been dressed up with a transparent, crystal material that is also used for the gear lever, volume roller switch as well as the wheel and seat adjustment controls mounted onto the door. Some people within BMW say they look like pieces of jewellery, and I concur.
Turning to the subject of technology, the curved display running from behind the steering wheel to the centre of the dash is designed differently but it should be familiar to all drivers of BMW cars. Comprising a 12.3-inch driver’s instrumentation screen and a larger 14.9-inch main display that is powered by the latest Operating System 8 (OS8), its design as a single-piece unit is something I like.
What I don’t quite like is the design of the steering wheel, or more specifically, that the hole above the centre hub is larger than the one below. It looks oddly disproportionate. However, when I begin to drive the iX, I understand why it has been designed as such – the upper rim of the steering wheel doesn’t obstruct the driver’s display at all. Another clever execution is the positioning of the left rim – such that from my eyeline, it sits between the two displays, and once again, nothing is obscured.
Crucially, the overall interactive experience remains similar, although OS8 invites you to touch and swipe more than its predecessors that had more buttons. Altogether, it is a more modern and graphical infotainment system that’s augmented by the clever voice control feature.
There is a head-up display (HUD) that offers a lot more information and wireless support for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay too. For connectivity, 5G as well as a plethora of USB-C connection points around the cabin including four for rear passengers, are available.
My test car is the BMW iX xDrive40, which is the entry model to the range. The electric all-wheel-drive system has been programmed to transmit the right amount of drive torque to the front and rear wheels in all driving situations. The intelligent control enables fully variable power transmission ranging from pure rear-wheel drive through to all-wheel drive that maximises traction.
The near-actuator wheel slip limitation technology fitted in tandem with all-wheel drive for the first time brings about a further improvement in traction and handling. This is further enhanced by a suspension set-up comprising double-wishbone front axle, five-link rear axle and lift-related dampers. The result: very precise and lightning-fast corrective inputs for effortless progress, even in adverse weather and road conditions.
Equipped with fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology and fitted with a high-voltage lithium-ion battery with a net energy content of 71kWh (gross energy content: 76.6kWh), the iX has outputs of 326hp and 630Nm. Put pedal to the metal and it will effortlessly and silently accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds. Maximum speed is limited to 200km/h.
The Combined Charging Unit (CCU) offers a very high level of charging flexibility. DC power can be taken on board at a rate of up to 150kW. This allows the battery’s state of charge to be increased from 10 to 80 per cent in around half an hour. Furthermore, range can be increased by more than 95km in just 10 minutes when it is plugged into a DC fast-charging station with an initial battery charge of 10 per cent.
Regeneration plays its part where range is concerned and there is a… range (pun intended) of options. The default is adaptive, which will endeavour to tailor the regenerative effect to suit your driving. Switch to B mode and you will have even more powerful regeneration performance, allowing for one-pedal driving.
Everything comes together very nicely in the BMW iX. It’s a great car to own. Visibility is great (even better with the 360-degree camera views); it is quiet (even for an electric car); it is so much fun to pilot; and the cabin is simply sublime. Until the BMW i7 arrives in the later part of this year, it is worthy of being the German carmaker’s flagship electric car.
BMW IX XDRIVE40
Drive type: Battery electric vehicle (BEV)
Drive concept: Electric drive, two electric motors to the front and rear wheels
Max system output: 240kW/326hp
Max system torque: 630Nm
Transmission: Automatic, single speed with fixed ratio
Electric power consumption (combined): 25.1kWh/100km
Battery type: Lithium-ion
Battery voltage: 300.3V
Battery capacity: 232Ah
Acceleration: 60-100km/h in 6.1 seconds
Top speed (electronically limited): 200km/h
Range (WLTP test cycle): 372-425km
(All images: BMW)
This story was first published on Prestige Singapore.