2022 BMW iX review – shows a Tesla Model X how innovation is done right
I think it is important, before going into what BMW iX is like driving, facing your biggest and perhaps only real flaw. It’s basically an ugly car. Now, before you hit the back button thinking I’m about to dive into design critique (that’ll be coming, don’t worry), I’m making this statement regardless the design of the iX. The iX is ugly because somewhere in the automotive journey it led BMW to establish that its beacon of progress for the EV era must be in the form of something as big and expensive as this huge SUV.
So it’s almost annoying that despite my reservations about its shape, the iX really is one of the best electric cars on sale right now, certainly living up to the Porsche taycan when it comes to engineering advancements, but with an even bolder undercurrent in its design, development and execution.
The fundamentals first: this is a BMW X5Full-size all-electric SUV that’s been designed from the ground up, rather than a mesh of existing BMW underpinnings modified to fit – as in the i4 and iX3. This is evident as soon as you open the door, as not only is the floor completely flat throughout the cabin, but the door sills proudly show off the iX’s strategic use of carbon fiber in the chassis – but not as largely than the i3.
With its new platform, BMW has therefore emphasized this technical freedom with an unusual set of proportions that lean more towards “minivan” than “rugged SUV” due to its forward placement. front of the A-pillars and lower beltline. You can decide for yourself if you like the way it looks, but basically it’s a design underpinned by a clumsy set of proportions that combines brilliant details (fine lighting, door handles and wheel designs) with a rather odd surface – I had a small panic several times thinking that the door had been kicked in.
The interior, however, is a complete triumph – a masterstroke in design and detail. Its minimalist design, not unusual in modern electric vehicles, is defined not by what’s missing, but by the few built-in elements and their frankly breathtaking quality. The curved screen is the dominant element of the interior, mounted away from the upholstered dashboard on brackets that look like they could be found in a Frank Gehry household. The materials are equally fascinating – the plant-based leather-like material on our example was soft and shiny, and paired with contrasting fabric which together created an interior vibe unlike any rival.
BMW’s new interfaces in the curved screen are very functional and take some time to figure out, but it’s a system that quickly fades into the background once it’s been configured to your individual preferences. Critically, the key elements can all be accessed on the center console’s control cluster, which still includes the main click wheel controller (although the main display is also touchscreen), as well as commands and shortcuts extras that mean you may never need to use the touchscreen if you’re averse to fingerprints.
The iX is available in three forms – a base xDrive40 model that pairs a combined electric motor output of 321hp with a 71kWh battery, a range-topping 610hp xDrive M60 and this 516hp xDrive50. The 50 and M60 models feature a larger 105kWh battery, giving them an estimated WLTP range of around 360-380 miles under optimal conditions. On the move, the xDrive50 feels completely effortless, with excellent calibration of the accelerator and brake pedals making them feel natural and responsive. The steering has a quick rack and pinion, something overdone again by rear-wheel steering, but you quickly acclimate to it, and thanks to good lateral control the iX never feels uncontrolled or coarse.
Yet that constant body control doesn’t come at the expense of comfort, because even on its larger set of 22-inch wheels and tires, the iX rides beautifully on its standard air suspension. This goes beyond excellent bump absorption, as there is also a very clear connection to the road surface. It also features none of those subtle thrills that often plague cars on air springs when cornering under load, nor the inability to handle heavy drops onto tarmac as they struggle to react in time.
It’s by no means a Porsche Taycan to drive – it’s just too big and heavy to be engaging – but it’s plenty capable, and never feels as clunky as a 2510kg SUV should. Factor in its incredible refinement due to its ability to isolate noise sources such as tires or road roar, this makes for a shiny luxury car, not just a shiny luxury SUV.
As you can guess, I really enjoyed my time with this car. Although I might dispute its final form, what iX does and how it does it is truly exceptional – a quantum leap both in how superbly polished and resolute it is to drive, and a prime example of the progress BMW has made. in electric vehicle engineering. The problem is how many cars you need to buy to experience the latest generation of true BMW innovation.
Prices and competitors
Another of the iX’s big numbers is its price, which starts at £69,905 for the entry-level 40 model with its 71kWh battery and range of around 250 miles. However, upgrade to the 50 M Sport and its more palatable 360-mile range and you’ll be down for £96,905. For the M60 you can add an extra £15,000 to that. The amount of standard kit is decent, but for the electrochromic glass roof, laser headlights or the (fabulous) Bowers and Wilkins stereo, you’ll have to dip into the options list.
As for its rivals, Audi’s E-tron SUV is older, and based on a platform designed for combustion engines that makes it neither as efficient nor variable in its range. Base models start around £7,000 less than the entry point iX, with prices extending up to the tri-motor E-tron S which, at £88,000, rivals the 50 model in terms of performance and driving ability, but follows its estimate. range of approximately 100 miles in the real world. Its interior also doesn’t live up to the new BMWs, but all of that will likely be evened out when it’s updated next year.
The Tesla Model X is the iX’s other potential rival, but thanks to Tesla’s bizarre production cycles, no updated models have yet arrived in the UK, with no real indication of a possible time scale. in the public domain either. Merc’s flawed EQC is absolutely annihilated by the BMW iX, so expect the EQS SUV if you’re dedicated to the three-pointed star, but here and now there’s no rivals that do what the BMW. It is a fantastic modern luxury car. You’ll just have to get used to the face.