From concept to reality, BMW has finally entered the electric SUV market with the brand-new iX.
A couple of years ago, BMW premiered the Vision iNEXT concept, which was slated to be an electric SUV (or SAV, as BMW prefers to call it) for the future. Now they've finally brought it to light, with little to no fanfare or hype leading up to the big day. It's known as the BMW iX, and it will hit the markets in late 2021 with a big emphasis on sustainable design, development, production, and operation.
The big numbers, as the title suggests, are 500 and 600. 500 for 500 hp across all four wheels via two electric motors, and 600 as in 600 km of range on a single charge thanks to a battery with over 100 kWh available. The motors are even produced without the use of rare-earth metals for an even better environmental footprint, with high levels of recyclability for the batteries.
If you're in a hurry, a current-gen DC fast charger can tack on 120 km of range in just 10 minutes. You can go from 10 to 80% battery capacity in under 40 minutes with a toilet break and a cup of coffee or three. At home with a regular 11 kW supply from a wallbox, you're looking at under 11 hours of charge time.
The new BMW iX represents the technology flagship for the BMW brand, and this goes beyond just the powertrain. Autonomous driving is part and parcel of the modern driving experience, and advanced driver systems in the BMW iX are the basis for all BMW models to come with over the air updates also available.
From a design standpoint, the iX packs that controversial front grille that nobody really seems to love - although it's interesting to note that there are very few traditional BMW styling cues beyond this, much like the i3. The lights are BMW-ish at the front, but plain slits at the rear. The overall roofline is sleeker than a BMW X3, but at the same time the length and width are similar to a BMW X5.
On the inside, a massive 14.9-inch curved display stretches from the driver's cluster all the way to the space for a central screen, essentially mimicking the setup found in other German rivals. This massive unbroken layout lends a sense of fluidity and cohesion to the cabin, and the floating setup standing off from the dashboard is also an interesting way to improve the feeling of interior space.
The gear selector and controls are completely redesigned as well to reflect such a massive leap forward. Touch sensitivity surfaces comprise of open-pore wood for that added touch of sophistication. Many of the materials are made of recycled and natural materials, both on the inside and out.
Interestingly enough, BMW has not made one mention of performance or spirited driving for the iX - perhaps a sign of the times. The iX is designed to put eco-friendliness and occupant comfort above all else, and while we're sure it absolutely handles like a dream, it simply isn't the focus. Even the steering wheel is hexagonal - the first of its kind in a BMW model.
With BMW committed to electric mobility globally as well as locally, we could probably eventually see the iX coming to our market - but there's a long wait yet as the Dingolfing plant will have to satisfy thousands of orders between now and the beginning of actual deliveries towards the end of 2021.