BMW, one of the first car manufacturers that produced electrified vehicles, finally has an all-electric SUV to call its own. Called the BMW iX, the SUV is built on an all-new modular platform that focuses on sustainability and versatility, while maintaining luxury and BMW’s driving dynamics.
The iX is equipped with the fifth-generation BMW eDrive Technology, comprising of two electric motors, the high-voltage battery pack, DC fast charging technology and all the electronics. BMW has gone to great lengths to ensure the sustainability of its platform by developing their power units without the use of rare earth materials. This significantly reduces the environmental impact of the production of the iX.
This next-generation powertrain puts out over 500hp, more power than the latest BMW M3 sports sedan. Combining exceptional performance with remarkable efficiency, the iX is capable of reaching 100kph from standstill in under five seconds, while managing power consumption of less than 21kWh per 100km. With a 100kWh battery, the iX is estimated to have an industry-leading 600km driving range.
Moreover, with the DC fast charging technology capable of up to 200kW charging, the iX can reach 80 per cent charge in just 40 minutes. Or, if you’re stretched for time, it can add 120km of range with only 10 minutes of charging. Charging the iX with the standard 11kW Wallbox charger, on the other hand, is an overnight affair, taking roughly eleven hours to fully charge the battery from empty.
The body of the iX is built on an aluminium spaceframe and Carbon Cage to maximise stiffness while maximising occupant space and safety. Similar in size to the BMW X5, BMW classifies the iX as a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV).
Upfront, the controversial vertical kidney grilles make an appearance once again, which drew questions on an EV’s need for a grille. BMW has clarified that the blanked off grilles now serve a different role as part of the iX’s sensor suits for its advanced driving assistance systems. Cameras, on-board radar and various other sensors are housed behind the transparent surface, paving the way for autonomous driving.
The thin headlights appear nearly non-existent sitting beside the grille. BMW has said that the headlights are the slimmest ever fitted on one of their series production vehicles. Blue accents along the front air curtains air typical of electric cars as blue seems to be the colour of ‘eco-friendliness’. While there is almost no character line across the iX, the sculpted bonnet and wheel arches accentuate the imposing presence of the SUV while contributing to the overall aerodynamic efficiency.
The flat underbody of the iX further aids in managing airflow, contributing to an overall drag coefficient of just 0.25cd. The sexy frameless doors and the flush door handles are classy features on the side, while the rear tailgate that expands across the entire rear housing the slim and stylish taillights. The rear-view camera has been integrated into the BMW logo to maintain the overall clean look of the iX.
The interior of the BMW iX is just as futuristic as its exterior, with a minimalist layout void of any physical buttons. While the hexagonal steering wheel is undoubtedly eye-catching, the massive curved screen that stretches from the cockpit to the centre of the dashboard. Two displays are housed within the screen — a 12-inch driver’s instrument display and a 15-inch touchscreen infotainment display. Rather than being integrated into the dash, BMW has decided to mount the screen on the exposed dashboard with a set of metal braces.
While the climate controls have been incorporated into the bezel of the touchscreen, the actual vents are relatively slim and angular, installed where one might find the controls for the climate controls.
The centre console features an open-pore wood finish, with the gear selection switch and rotary dial finished in crystal. While the front passengers get to enjoy the technology, the rear passengers enjoy all the space. Despite being the size of the seven-seat X5, iX is a strict five-seater, allowing for ample leg and headroom in the rear compartment.
As expected from the next generation of BMW vehicles, the iX features a whole host of technological and safety upgrades. Utilising the latest version of BMW Operating System, the iX is the first-ever production vehicle fitted with its own 5G network. Moreover, like something out of a sci-fi movie, the sensor panel across the grille comes with a self-repairing coating that ‘heals’ any scratches or small chips. This is to ensure that the delicate sensors located behind the grille function optimally as it forms part of the driver assistance systems for semi-autonomous driving.
The BMW iX is slated to go into production at BMW Plant Dingolfing from the second half of 2021. It is late to the party no doubt; the Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Audi e-Tron and Tesla Model X have been having more than their fair share of the cocktail. When the iX finally arrives with better range, tech and quality, would it be enough to electrocute the competition?