BMW’s iX is their first fully-electric SAV. It’s brash and obnoxious, but looks very futuristic and, most of all, expensive.
Many, if not most, car buyers are not car-people. They don’t often choose a car based on the brand’s history, but how the product increases their perceived social status. So, looking expensive equates to looking good. While we still have SUVs like the Stelvio and Model X that are beautiful and organic, that elegant design language is disappearing. The desire to look expensive explains much of today’s modern SUV-design: Brash and obnoxious, but looks that are very futuristic and, most of all, expensive.
BMW‘s technology signature car, the iX, first started as the future-forward Vision iNext concept shown in 2018. At the unveiling, Adrian Van Hooydonk, BMW’s VP of Design, said the iNext interior “is not inspired by car design at all, but inspired by architecture and the design of boutique hotels.” So, you see where we’re going here. No mention of BMW’s storied history, racing heritage, driver centered design, or ultimate driving machines. Just boutique hotels inside and those mechanistic nostrils on the grille. The iX isn’t a pretty SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle), and its buyer won’t care.
BMW’s iX will be their first fully-electric SAV and is planned to go on sale in the US in 2022. With some stiff competition already around like Tesla and Volvo, it’s 300 miles per charge driving range will fit within the target market’s desires. Also, there’s the familiar two electric motors and full-time all-wheel-drive you’ll find in other premium EVs. There isn’t much in the way of technological or engineering innovation here, but BMW surely meets the standards that have been set. One could say that they’ve paid the price of entry into the luxury EV space.
And speaking of entry, as you open the doors, you’ll find a very spacious interior. BMW says it’s roughly the size of an X5 inside and outside. You won’t find buttons on the dash, but there is a beautifully curved frameless digital screen that sweeps from the driver to what would be the center console in a somewhat normal SUV. The head-up display projector is carefully hidden in the dash, and for that matter, other things like switches aren’t readily noticeable. BMW calls it “shy tech,” and it will take some getting used to.
Some normal things, like the iDrive controller, sit on a nicely finished wood surfaced center console, but the iDrive controller itself looks like a Baccarat crystal piece. The shifter has taken the form of a light switch, more or less, but there are still recognizable seat controls on the doors. The rest of the iX interior looks architectural, as Hooyndonk said, especially with the colorful fabric seats.
You may have the choice of a panoramic sunroof with electrochromic shading as an option and a choice of seats with either faux-leather, genuine leather, or a microfiber textile seat fabric option called Loft. As interesting as the architectural interior is, there’s some sterility to it. If you’ve been in an i3, you get the picture: woods, tones, and textures done in a way that’s a cross between a 1960’s mid-century Eichler home and a room at the Aloft hotel chain.
But there’s nothing 1960’s about BMW’s technology. BMW says the software will let you customize the 27.2-inch display to your heart’s desire. There is Android Auto and Apple Carplay of course, there’s included wireless charging, and an available Wi-Fi hotspot. Although you can’t see them, there are 18 Harmon/Kardon speakers around the interior. If that’s not enough for you, BMW will offer the 30 speaker Bowers & Wilkins system as an option for an extra charge. Remember, it’s about being expensive.
The technology continues under the hood with the two-motor drivetrain putting down 500 horsepower to four wheels. Although it doesn’t have a Tesla-like Ludicrous mode, it will hit 60 mph in well under 5 seconds. Maybe they’ll be an “M” mode at some point – one could only hope.
The range may reach 375 miles; however, BMW hasn’t explained what kind of battery the iX will receive. They have said that leasing or purchasing an iX will get $100 of EVgo credit. Since EVgo will be the charging network of choice for BMW’s, the BMW app will show you real-time charger status and the ability to choose one that’s not occupied. If you find a DC fast charger, you’ll charge from 10 to 80-percent in under 40 minutes. If you pull into your Level 2 charger at home, then it’ll be 11 hours for a full charge.
BMW’s i3 hatchback and the i8 sports car have a four-year or 50,000 miles warranty coverage and eight years or 100,000 miles for EV components. So, we suspect that the iX will be similar. Thankfully, you may not need the complimentary 3-year maintenance offered on the non-EV models.
Since BMW hasn’t released any information on the iX’s trim levels, standard or optional safety features, we can’t be confident on the price levels. The current BMW x7 range is 75,000 to 120,000, so it’s conceivable that BMW will price the iX above 120,000, which will indeed be very expensive. But an EV SAV of this size is ruled by the Tesla Model X, and it ranges from 75,000 to 100,000. When we find out more about how the iX will be equipped, we’ll give you some updates. And when it gets to the dealerships in the not-so-distant future, we’ll see if expensive sells.