The first BMW SUV developed as an electric model from the ground up was unveiled as the BMW iX this year. Derived from the BMW iNext concept (BMW Vision iNext), the BMW X5-class pure electric luxury SUV targets customers of the Tesla Model Y and the Audi e-tron.
Based on the Vision iNEXT concept that was showcased back in 2018, the 2022 BMW IX is its brand’s first all-electric compact SUV. The iX will enter production later this year and will be launched in the European markets in November 2021.
The BMW iX can be compared to the BMW X5 in length and width, and it is almost as low as the coupe version of the same – the BMW X6. From the standpoint of design, it is like no BMW that’s on sale today, be it the exterior or the interior. The BMW iX places the foundation stone for the brand’s design language for next-generation EVs.
The BMW iX sports a sleeker and sharper design compared to other BMW SUVs. At the front, the large electric SUV looks ahead with the slimmest headlights ever on a mass-production BMW and an intelligent vertical kidney grille whose surface has a 3D pyramid structure. The bonnet has pronounced 3D sculpting extending up to the headlamps and the grille, and the bonnet lines converge on the latter.
The twin headlights are Adaptive LED units with matrix function and a new type of BMW Laserlight module. As for the vertical grille, this is the newest iteration of BMW’s ‘like it or leave it’ kidney grille, and the company calls it “a technologically lavish advertisement for intelligent mobility.”
The kidney grille is blanked off and serves the function of an intelligence panel; the sensors and the camera needed for autonomous driving are discreetly mounted behind what’s easily the most controversial part of the car’s design. If the tech or its form didn’t impress you, know that it is a self-healing panel – an additional polyurethane coating ensures that minor scratches would disappear within a day at room temperature or just 5 minutes if warm air is supplied.
The BMW iX flaunts 22-inch ‘Air Performance Wheels’ that is 15 percent lighter than conventional alloy wheels, flush door handles, and frameless windows – a first for a BMW SUV car. Also worth mentioning are electric door openers operated at the press of a button – even the BMW Group flagship RR Cullinan doesn’t offer this feature. Virtual mirrors from the BMW iNext haven’t transitioned to production. Still, the conventional mirrors are slender and have a slim geometry that aligns with the new type of proportions for this series-production BMW SUV.
The rear-end portrays the BMW iX’s minimalist theme with a small amount of joints and character lines, accentuating its width and gives it a powerful presence. Complementing the highly sophisticated appearance are the tail lamps, which are the slimmest for a series-production BMW.
BMW has positioned the reversing light and fog lights along with the reflector in a similar noticeably slim strip in the apron. The secondary light units are placed at the outer edges of the SUV – these include the rear lights, brake lights, and turn indicators, and so, all the relevant light signals are visible even when the tailgate is ajar.
The interior of the iX is miles ahead of any BMW cabin in showrooms today, featuring a lounge-style ambiance. This is where the BMW iX has the most visible advantages over the Model X and makes the latter’s cabin seem mundane and outdated. The company has reduced displays and controls to the essentials, which benefits in two ways: an uncluttered look and added space.
The dashboard panel may appear odd in the first look, but the beautifully curved display panel seamlessly combining the virtual instrument cluster and infotainment system displays overshadow it. There’s no center tunnel interrupting the width in the front area, and one can shift from a driver seat to the passenger seat and vice-versa without needing to step out. Racing aficionados would appreciate the hexagon-style steering wheel, which is a first for a Bimmer.
BMW has paid attention to selecting interior materials and trims, and the efforts seem to have paid off. Polished crystal applications, natural leather upholstery, blue & black color scheme, and wood trim make the iX look appealing and comfortable.
Shy tech, as seen on the kidney grille, is present in the cabin too. The midrange speakers, for example, are hidden in the seats. Another fine example is the discreet recessing of the head-up display projector into the instrument panel, making it invisible. Also worth mentioning is the rocker switch for gear selection that takes the place of a conventional gear selector lever.
The BMW iX employs a completely new aluminum spaceframe architecture and a ‘Carbon Cage’ – both firsts for a BMW. CFRP components have been used on the side frame, rain channels, cowl panel, rear window frame and roof frame, which together form the Carbon Cage.
The 2022 BMW iX will go on sale in two variants – iX xDrive 40 and iX xDrive 50. The base-spec version features dual electric motors that output a maximum of 300 hp/240 kW. This enables the EV to sprint from 0-62 mph in just over 6 seconds. On the other hand, the xDrive 50 offers 500 hp/370 kW & 765 Nm and can hit 62 mph from a standstill in less than 5 seconds. BMW is even working on a top-spec iX M50 model that could produce upwards of 600 hp/447 kW due next year.
The iX xDrive 40 will be sold with a 71 kWh battery and will have a driving range of 249 miles, while the xDrive 50 will feature a bigger 105 kWh unit with a driving range of 373 miles on a full charge (WLTP measurement).
BMW iX deliveries are scheduled to commence in late 2021 globally. The iX will compete with the Audi e-tron, Tesla Model X, and the upcoming Mercedes EQE SUV. In the UK, the iX costs £69,905 for the entry-level xDrive 40 in Sport trim. M Sport versions will set you back from £72,905. More powerful xDrive 50 variants in Sport trim will cost £91,905, while M Sport versions of the iX xDrive 50 would set you back by £94,905.
BMW has commenced the series production of the iX at Dingolfing, Lower Bavaria, on July 2, 2021, which is currently the largest production plant of BMW in Europe. The BMW iX is being assembled in the same line, which makes combustion-engine, hybrid and electric vehicles.
BMW has invested almost EUR 400 million for the production of the iX at this plant, including for the processes of expansion and refurbishment of the assembly line to accommodate the model’s assembly. The changes made to the assembly line will also facilitate the fully electric versions of the 5 Series and 7 Series, arriving in the next couple of years.
BMW considers the iX an instrumental model in doubling the percentage of electric vehicles produced this year, as compared to 2020. BMW sees a high potential in the iX and claims that it will be its highest volume model produced in the Dingolfing plant, which also makes other PHEV vehicles from BMW. It plans to electrify half the vehicles produced at Dingolfing by the middle of the decade.
The refurbishment measures taken at the Dingolfing plant includes BMW’s action plan of lowering CO2 emissions per vehicle produced. BMW has already reduced its CO2 emissions by 78 per cent and plans to drop by another 80 per cent by 2030 per vehicle. The iX is manufactured exclusively using regional and directly sourced power from hydroelectric power plants in the rivers of Isar and Lech.
BMW iX FAQs
What is the BMW iX release date?
The BMW iX will launch in some global markets, including the UK, in November 2021.
What is the BMW iX range?
BMW plans to launch the iX with a 100 kWh (gross) battery pack and is targeting a travel range of 600 km in the WLTP cycle.
Which cars could be considered BMW iX rivals?
iX rivals will include the Tesla Model X, the Audi e-tron and the upcoming Mercedes EQE SUV.
Featured image: BMW