2022 BMW iX first drive review
There's no point obsessing, or groaning, over the size and shape of BMW's kidney grilles any longer - they're large, make a statement one way or the other, and they're here to stay. The one on the BMW iX? Especially so, considering it's been treated with self-healing paint that's said to cover up scratches! And that's especially fitting since it's BMW's first all-electric crossover, and the flag bearer of a BMW future that will be increasingly electric - the company hopes to capture half of all global electric car sales by 2030. Ambitious enough but if the BMW iX is any indication of how serious BMW are about that, it's an ambition to take seriously. The iX is BMW's technological flagship, built on their first bespoke EV architecture since the i3, and one that likely won't be adapted going forward making it truly bespoke. It's all been enough for BMW to sell out its first allotment of 50 cars for India soon after its launch. Is it really that good?
2022 BMW iX styling
Like we said, the BMW iX is a bold (or controversial) take on BMW's textbook strong face, wide hips, and altogether imposing stance, but then again new-age BMWs are nothing if not bold. There's probably no better role model for the 'Love it, or hate it' adage, but it's worth noting that the iX does look a lot better in person, where the scale of the design is really apparent. When it's sat in front of you, it's easier to believe the vision that Domagoj Dukec (BMW's head of design since 2019) has for the brand, especially when he says that BMW's younger customers want a bolder, fresher-looking BMW. The almost-impossibly slim headlights and tail lights certainly work for me, along with the pop-out door handles and frameless doors. The way it squats when viewed from the rear - that is one of the iX's best angles - really makes its 'monolithic' design stand out.
It's also better looking in darker colours (just four colours are offered in India), that help blend in the grille, and give the rest of this lumbering SUV a meaner vibe. At 4,953mm long, 1,967mm wide, 1,695mm tall on a wheelbase of 3,000mm flat, it's about the size of a BMW X5 but with the wheelbase of the X7. Not to mention a coefficient of drag of just 0.25, making it one of the most slippery SUVs around (Audi's Q4 e-tron is one of its slipperiest SUVs with a 0.26Cd). So at least there's function to the form to speak about. If you get down on one knee, you'll likely also notice the flat underbody, with the batteries packaged along the underside of the central tunnel and rear seats. But with 202mm of ground clearance, there's plenty of clearance to play with. The iX comes standard with massive 21-inch aero wheels, which thankfully have no plastic bits on them, as some other brands' aero offerings do.
2022 BMW iX cabin, space and features
If the exterior of the BMW iX has you slightly hesitant of BMW's future, the interiors will change your mind in a flash, right from your first glimpse of the Carbon Core (BMW's carbon fibre reinforced plastic core chassis) when you open the doors. It's gorgeous inside, and dripping with quality. The new platform has allowed the interior designers to really shake things up, in a way that you usually only see from the new EV automakers that don't have a styling legacy to uphold.
The result is a central storage binnacle that's freestanding, freeing up more space between the dash, and materials (including recycled and renewables) that make it feel a lot more expensive than its asking price. Stuff like the cut-glass seat controls (mounted on the door for the first time), and iDrive controller really do elevate the experience.
The iX debuts BMW's eighth-generation of iDrive, and it's a slicker, easier to use interface via the 14.9-inch curved touchscreen display, once you get the lay of the land. The 655W, 18-speaker Harmon and Kardon audio sounds especially good, and even has additional speakers in the rear headrests. Buttons are a scarcity in here, with most actions coming via the touchscreen or touch sensitive areas on the gloss black panels - this also means the entire panel moves when you select a function, which is something I especially needed to get used to coming from BMW's plethora of buttons. The twin-spoke, hexagonal steering is a bold choice, but thankfully feels about as thick-rimmed as some of BMW's other recent SUVs, which means that it still does feel very nice in the hand, especially considering how simplistically the steering mounted controls are laid out. You've got cruise controls on the left, and audio on the right. It couldn't be simpler.
The quilted seats are wide, expansive and supremely supportive. In fact, to me the lumbar felt a little too supportive but these truly are seats you sink into. And the all-glass roof definitely has the wow-factor to it, and the electrochromatic shading puts to rest some of the reservations we've had with some all-glass roofs we've seen on other luxury EVs in India so far. At the rear, it's more luxury considering you're looking at the back of some of the prettiest seats in the industry. There's a decent amount of legroom, knee room and headroom. It's certainly enough to qualify the iX as a great chauffeur-driven car.
Boot space, at 500-litres, is limited considering its size and down on the competition, which also offer front-trunk storage. Customers can't access the front trunk though, which is sealed and can only one opened by service technicians. That's because with the iX, BMW has also rethought the electric propulsion systems, bundling the fifth-generation eDrive electric motor, electronics and single-speed gearbox in one unit, which ultimately leads to better overall packaging and freeing up space in other areas, not to mention increases the power density.
2022 BMW iX powertrain and charging
Which leads us to the heart of the BMW iX - its all-electric powertrain. The model sold here in India at launch is the BMW iX xDrive40, with twin eDrive motors on each axle (it's all-wheel drive), good for 326PS and 630Nm torque, along with 372-425km of driving range (WLTP-certified), a 0-100kmph time in 6.1s and a 200kmph top speed. The battery itself has a 76.6kWh gross capacity, or 71kWh net. Impressive figures on paper, which put it in the middle of the pack of luxury electric SUVs here in India. The onboard charger works at 11kW making for a 0-100 per cent charge in eight hours, while a 150kW charger manages a 10-80 per cent charge in 31 minutes. More interestingly, the BMW iX uses a different class of electric motors than we're used to seeing. Called electrically excited synchronous motors, they use electricity instead of permanent magnets, for even more immediate full torque, and a wider window of performance, as the motors deliver peak torque through a wider rev range.
2022 BMW iX driving impressions
Push the start button and you're met with a start-up tune rather than a synthesised engine, which makes it feel even more futuristic. BMW teamed up with legendary Hollywood score producer Hans Zimmer to create a soundtrack for the first electric M car, the iX M60, and one can hope that some of that Zimmer goodness eventually makes its way to the rest of the range. Rolling away from a standstill reveals a lightness on its feet that's completely at odds with the size of the iX, with the chunky steering feeling direct and responsive, even weighing up nicely as the speeds rise. And, boy, do the speeds rise when called for.
The build in speed feels entirely linear, with only a slight whine of the motors and whooshing as the air rushes past to tell you how fast you're going. Oh, that and the way the numbers on the speedo seem to climb in multiples of 15. Even the feel from the brakes is well-judged, with the energy regeneration not really robbing them of modulation, feel or stopping power. You don't get paddleshifters to adjust the regen braking force in the iX, though you can slot the gear selector into B, which essentially adjusts regen to the point where you can one-pedal drive it. It does take some getting used to though, with other brake regen options buried in the touchscreen menus. The drive modes in the iX range from the city-friendly to Sport, which also turns the ESP to its sportiest setting, and considering all that instant torque going largely to the rear wheels, should be a recipe for fun. Our drive in the iX was meant to be a mere taste so we'll reserve judgement till we drive the car out on our roads. Similarly, the suspension (one of the few parts borrowed from the CLAR platform parts bin but with iX-specific geometry and tuning) feels plush and well-judged even with the 21-inch wheels but we didn't experience road irregularities to speak of.
2022 BMW iX initial impressions
Normally a short drive in a car so packed full of technology isn't very revealing. And while we are itching for a longer drive, in the case of the iX, it says enough. This is BMW's most impressive interior, with a fuller features list than the competition, and performance that will be more than enough for most buyers. I'd go so far as to say that the interior alone is worth the asking price, with the zero-emissions driving being a very happy bonus. At an ex-showroom price of Rs 1.15 crore, the owners of the BMW iX certainly have something to smile wide about. Even as the rest of us begrudgingly admit that if this is the future for BMW's electrics, it's something to be excited for.
Photography by Kapil Vashist and Jassi Singh
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