Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: April 14, 2022
The BMW iX is the brand’s largest push into the realm of electric SUVs, aiming to tempt buyers away from the Tesla Model X with a cabin that’s more luxurious, a badge that’s more prestigious, and a look that’s more polarizing than anything that has ever come out of Munich.
And it has certainly captured the world’s attention. When the iX first debuted it was ridiculed for its two oversized kidney grills but in person, it actually works quite well with the overall design. They stretch the car’s height and accentuate its frontal silhouette, giving it a great deal of road presence. The rear is especially well-contoured with slim lights that don’t seem to be carry or be inspired by BMW’s history but it looks good, as do the rose-gold like trim elements.
The interior is another story and this is where we think the iX truly leads the EV segment. There’s just so much yet so little going on. The layout is clean, colourful, and crisp, especially in this red on red spec. The expansive dashboard effectively accentuates the cabin’s width, and houses the new dual screens mounted under a piece of curved glass. Soft leather is laid out on all the high traffic areas, and there’s beautiful glass switchgear for the seat controls and infotainment dials, all of which make the iX feel more expensive than it actually is. This kind of material quality is normally reserved for brands like Bentley and Aston Martin.
The wood inlay on the center console is a charming addition as it cleverly integrates the real buttons underneath, resulting in a flush and cleaner design. The moderately-sized steering wheel looks great and is much slimmer than BMW’s current examples, though its odd tactile shape and grips do take some getting used to. The passthrough tunnel between the front seats adds a sense of airiness to the cabin, and allows for a deep and spacious center console that could even swallow up my Canon 6D SLR camera. We also love the dedicated phone cubby right above the rotary dial. The rear cabin is equally spacious with its own separate climate controls and USB sockets integrated into the front seatbacks. Headroom and legroom are excellent, on par with the X5, part of the reason being that the sunroof is non-retractable. That means it won’t cut into precious overhead space.
Which leads us into a few nitpicks. It’s a shame not to have a retractable sunroof but at least it’s electrochromatic like the Mercedes SL - it turns from clear to frosted at the push of a button. The rear windows only roll down about halfway, not exactly helpful for those who want some fresh air. And like the BMW i4, there is no front trunk either. The seating position is also a little unusual and atypical for a BMW SUV. In the iX, you feel like you are sitting too high and on top of the SUV rather that being integrated inside of it, but the steering wheel telescopes a considerable distance towards the driver, ensuring a cozy seating position for pilots of all sizes.
What about its range capabilities then? BMW claims the iX xDrive50 will reach an outstanding 521 km on a single charge. That’s more than the Audi e-tron Sportback (351 km), Porsche Taycan 4S (320 km), and Volvo C40 Recharge (334 km), Ford Mustang Mach-E AWD (435 km), but just a few clicks short of the Tesla Model X (536 km). Our own test of the iX in sub ten-degrees Celsius Canadian climate yielded us 466 km. Of note, we also had the cabin set to a constant 21-degrees Celsius with both the heated steering wheel and seats on.
Powering the iX is a 105.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that drives two electric motors, one on each axle for an all-wheel drive setup. In total, the xDrive50 produces 523 hp and 564 lb-ft of torque, and will reach 0-100 km/h in a respectable 4.6 seconds. That’s quicker than a Volkswagen Golf R. Not bad for a porker of an SUV that weighs more than a Toyota Tundra. But if that’s not enough, BMW offers an even quicker version of the iX called the M60, which harbours 610 hp and a 0-100 km/h time of 3.8 seconds, quicker than their own M3. That should be coming later in the year.
The iX stops just as well too with strong brakes and three strength levels of braking regeneration. There is no dedicated button or paddle shifters to adjust them, so you have to dive into the display menu to access it. But BMW instead offers an Adaptive Mode, which automatically detects obstacles in front and adjusts the amount of regen needed on the fly. It works really well. When cruising to a red light stop and there are cars in front, the iX will switch to maximum regen, while coasting at higher speeds on the highway would use the least amount of regen to keep the rolling resistance minimal.
Handling is about average. We didn’t expect that much from this heavy SUV even with its low center of gravity. The iX leans a lot and while exit speed is always good thanks to the instant torque of the electric motors, it never feels particularly agile when the road begins to snake. But it is very manueverable in small and tight areas thanks to the rear wheel steering system, shrinking its footprint considerably and adding a great deal of high speed stability and road comfort, even on the optional 22-inch wheels.
Like the i4, the iX also pipes artificial electric noises into the cabin, and they will change depending on the selected driving mode. By default, the sounds are quiet and subdued but ramp up into deep, heart-wrenching tones in Sport Mode. If they sound familiar, that’s because Hans Zimmer composed these tones for BMW.
The BMW iX is a first-rate piece of kit that effectively puts BMW on the competitive EV spectrum. Its spacious cabin adds a great deal of functionality, as does its exemplary driving range that ranks right up there with the best from Tesla. The iX may not be the agile corner carver that some may expect from a BMW but its spritely acceleration and meticulously crafted interior more than make up for it.
Model: 2022 BMW iX xDrive50
Paint Type: Aventurine Red Metallic III
Base Price: $89,990
Price as Tested: $117,690
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,953 / 1,967 / 1,696
Curb weight (kg): 2,567
Powertrain: 105.2 kWh lithium ion battery, two electric synchronous AC motors
Horsepower: 536 hp
Torque: 586 lb-ft
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Estimated Range: 521 km
Observed Range: 466 km