Whilst BMW have had the small electric i3 & the i8 supercar since 2014, 2021 is the year when their electric range steps up a pace, with the launch of the iX, the brands electric competitor in the premium SUV sector.
What is it ?
The iX is a five door hatch that’s a similar size to the X5, with the internal space of the larger BMW X7. It features BMW’s fifth generation eDrive electric motors & the EV architecture that will eventually underpin the brands electric model range.
Model choice & range
Choose from the xDrive40 Sport or M Sport, which come with AWD & 326hp, or the more powerful xDrive50 Sport, also with AWD, but with an eye watering 523hp. We were testing the xDrive40 which will go from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds & comes with a range of 246-257 miles on the WLTP combined electric range. Opt for the iDrive 50 & the range extends to 365-380 miles & a faster 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds. Both models use an electric motor on the front & rear axles.
Select an EV & the second question you want answered after range is how long does it take to charge ? BMW have conveniently supplied us with that info in the chart below.
Model Wallbox charge time Rapid charge time
xDrive40 257 miles 11hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW) 31mins (10-80%, 150kW)
xDrive50 381 miles 16hrs 45mins (0-100%, 7.4kW) 34mins (10-80%, 200kW)
In effect, if you run an electric car you’ll have a 7kWh home charger, so this where your iX will be topped up most regularly. Our xDrive40 will charge from full to 100% in 11.5 hours, which is pretty standard for an EV fitted with a 76.6 kWh battery & usable capacity of 71 kWh. However, the xDrive50 comes with an enormous 111.5 kWh battery & useable capacity of 105.2 kWh, which is brilliant for range, but makes home charging very slow indeed. That’s why the cars fast charging capability is so important.
With BMW’s large kidney grilles at the front, the iX is always going to stand out. Add in it’s lowish roofline, smooth surfaces & elongated sides & it’s clearly out to hit the Tesla Model X where it hurts.
Interior & infotainment
As we found when we drove the BMW i4, the interior of BMW’s new EV’s is exemplary. From the quilted leather seats to the curved dual-screen dash, it’s all beautifully engineered & finished in top-quality plastics & leather. Only the dash-top speaker cover felt disappointing.
The controls are located on a floating centre console, producing a clutter free dashboard, much in vogue at present. The hexagonal steering wheels different & contains short cuts to the cars infotainment & cruise control.
As with the i4 the dashboards curved display features a 14.9″ infotainment screen alongside a 12.3″ customisable digital instrument panel. The graphics are sharp, response is quick & the fact you can scroll left & right on the screen itself, as well as via the rotary controller located between the front seats, also make it easy to use. It’s all powered by the latest BMW Operating System 8, which comes with 20x more computing power than any previous BMW. New features include 5G connectivity, mixed-reality satellite navigation Digital Key Plus, which utilises your smartphone in place of a conventional key.
Rear passengers get their own climate controls with two USB’s located in the front seat head rests. You open the car doors internally by pressing a button.
xDrive40 Sport features
Standard equipment includes Shadow Line exterior trim, climate comfort windscreen, heated front seats, four zone auto air con, high beam assist, DAB, Harman/Kardon audio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto & Lice Cockpit Professional.
Extras fitted to our test car included a Visibility Pack £2000, Comfort Pack £1900 & Sky Lounge Pack £3500.
Interior & boot space
Cabin room is hugely impressive in the iX. Five six footers would sit comfortably inside, with plenty of head & legroom to go round as there’s no transmission tunnel. Internal storage’s good too. You get a large glovebox, partitioned door bins, a wireless phone-charging pad, two USB-C sockets, a 12V socket, two cupholders, under armrest storage, plus a large & small cubby in front of the centre console.
The boot offers 500 litres of space, which increases to XX litres with the rear rear seats folded. The rear seats can also be dropped by pressing buttons on the wall of the boot, which features a useful flat floor with storage space beneath for charging cables.
Driving modes & energy regeneration
Driving modes offered are Eco Pro, Comfort & Sport, so you can tailor your drive to your needs.The iX comes with three levels of regeneration, especially useful in the 40 version with its lower range. Choose from High, Medium or Low & push the gear lever to the left from D to utilise these in B mode. As with the i4, the one pedal driving mode allows for almost brake free driving & it’s not heavy on your right foot either.
On the road
We were testing the iDrive 40 fitted with the 76.6kWh battery & like all large EV’s, the battery is the key to how this car drives. BMW pride themselves on producing cars the are enjoyable to drive, which is quite a challenge with a 2.5 tonne vehicle. However, for such a heavy, boxy shaped car, the iX does a remarkable job of hiding the fact its so heavy. This is aided by the cars rear-wheel steering, which shortens the wheelbase improving agility.
As with the i4, the heavy battery is located low down & centre & this actually gives the iX good road holding & cornering manners by limiting the cars body roll in corners.
Drive along a motorway & the iX offers limousine luxury, although the acceleration is such, that you really do need to watch your speed. Outside road noise is kept to a minimum, but the upright stance means wind noise is prevalent. Uneven surfaces are dealt with by the impressive suspension & it feels more comfortable on the road than the similarly sized Audi e tron. Other competitors include the Mercedes-Benz EQC, but this too doesn’t deal with the road as well as the iDrive 40, which is by far the best in the class to drive at the moment.
Fabulous interior, loads of space, new BMW operating system is excellent & company car drivers pay just 1% BIK. Best of all, it’s actually good to drive.
Despite it’s class leading battery range, the iDrive 50 is expensive. It’s boxy shape won’t appeal to everyone.
The xDrive40 which costs from £69,000 is our choice. Why ? It’s accessibly priced, comes with decent battery range & when charging at home, doesn’t take an age. The interior is the stand out in the sector & the cabin is cavernous so no complaints there. With the sportier i4 sharing much of the iX’s attributes, we’re hoping that more affordable electric BMW’s, benefit from some of the iX’s magic pixie dust.
BMW i i20 iX xDrive40 Sport £69,000