Due to the unique circumstances we find ourselves in, automakers have had to get a little creative in launching their latest vehicles. They are well familiar with creating a sense of drama and pizzazz with in-person car launches. These events are usually intricately scheduled, covering pretty much all bases to the point that you’d be hard pressed to ever find a car launch event that you’d associate with being dull.
The pandemic means that they have had to wrack their brains in coming up with equally engaging events but delivered through an online medium. And engaging was the virtual launch of new BMW iX; they’ve even managed to get Oscar winner, Christoph Waltz, to star in their launch clip!
Enough About The Launch, What About The Car Itself?
If the iX invokes a sense of déjà vu, that is because you’d have seen it before, back in 2018 as the Vision iNext concept car. Conceived from the outset for purely electric mobility, the iX sees BMW redefining the successful Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) concept. It is the first model based on a new, modular, scalable future toolkit developed by the BMW Group and focused on a fresh interpretation of design, sustainability, driving pleasure, versatility and luxury.
As with the i8, many elements have made it into the production version unchanged or with only minor alterations. The concept’s slim headlights for instance, or the other design elements like its frameless windows, a tailgate that spans the width of the rear end, all help to preserve the fuss-free, and according BMW, almost monolithic, lines of the concept, which uses generously shaped surfaces instead to build some serious road presence.
Out Of Sight, But Not Out Of Mind
No sullying of the interior or exterior design with clunky sensors and cameras here. The iX heralds the sub-brand’s departure from BMW’s ultimate driving machine ethos, choosing instead to focus on sustainable mobility and comfort. Nothing on the inside or the outside truly looks out of place, with all the necessary elements that the car needs to function being neatly tucked away, or redesigned to add to the overall experience of the vehicle.
Functional components, think the filler neck for the windscreen washer fluid and even the door handles on the outside, are neatly integrated into the vehicle. This mindset has also been applied to the rear-view camera, which has been integrated into the BMW badge (hurray to no exposed numberplate mounted camera!), as well as on the inside, with integrated speakers and intricately styled air vents.
Building On A Proven Formula
BMW has built many competent Sport Activity Vehicles over the years. The iX combines minimalist designs, with electric mobility, automated driving and intelligent connectivity for a unique expression of the future of driving pleasure. It is proportionally similar to current petrol offerings, with an exterior length and width identical to that of an X5, with the roofline and height of an X6, and wheel sizing like that of an X7.
No sporty trim begging you to drive the car hard here; the iX blends copious amounts of interior space, with premium materials and newly developed seats with integral head restraints for a luxurious and relaxing feeling of space with a lounge-like ambience. Inspired by architecture, the car’s interior also sports a large glass roof, and with no need for a centre tunnel, helps optimise the spread of natural lighting.
Jumping Behind The Wheel
You’d be holding onto a hexagonal steering wheel – a first for any production BMW, and be greeted with their new Curved Display. This is a fully digital screen grouping made up of a 12.3-inch Information Display and a 14.9-inch Control Display with, stretching from where you’d expect to find a typical cluster, towards the centre console, in a single-piece, frameless glass surface.
No tacky plastics found in the centre console here; it sports a unit crafted to look like name-brand furniture. An innovative new rocker switch for gear selection, a Touch Controller and an illuminated glass-effect control surface subdivided by feeler bars and with active haptic feedback falls nicely within reach of the driver.
Most Importantly Of All - Is It Fast? And What Can We Expect Range-wise?
Electric vehicles have had a recent reputation for neck-snapping acceleration. You would expect a new premium EV from an established manufacturer to be capable of doing just that. BMW’s answer to the likes of the Tesla Model X and Y, and other similar offerings from Mercedes (think the GQC), is no slouch. Propulsion is courtesy of 2 electric motors, that have a combined power output of 500 bhp.
These motors are the fifth generation of BMW eDrive technology and can help hurtle the car towards the horizon at 100km/h from a standstill in just 5 seconds. All this performance though, doesn’t come at the detriment of range, which, on German testing metrics, can be up to 600km on a full charge.
Its high-voltage battery, gross energy content of more than 100 kWh, can be topped up to 80% from 10% in just 40 minutes when plugged into a DC fast charger. Using the same charger, you can gain 120km in range in just 10 minutes. More impressively though, none of the drivetrain components will cause any significant harm to the environment – no exotic metals or materials here, everything is made from recyclable resources with little impact to the other creatures we share the planet with.
Another innovation that helps it achieve those figures, is the car’s shell. An aluminium spaceframe, with an integrated Carbon cage, helps shed weight, whilst keeping the car stiff and aerodynamic.
The production of the iX is set to get underway in the second half of 2021 at BMW Plant, with global launches scheduled from the end of 2021.