THERE is a lot going for the BMW iX. Maybe too much.
In its enthusiasm to showcase the current cutting-edge features of the brand, BMW stuffed the iX full of features. Almost to the point of overdoing it.
You have crystal controls, a huge display and touchscreen, wood finishes and one of the best seats around with bright blue seat belts. But along with it, you have dated features, a hexagonal steering wheel which bumps through your hands when freewheeling, and a disproportionately large grille that is sealed.
It’s a confusion of well-intentioned elements that are best appreciated at an individual level.
Ultimately, they do come together to deliver that purposeful drive, complete with the Hans Zimmer soundtrack developed for BMW’s electric vehicles.
Powered by the fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology, the iX offers a range of around 600km. Quick DC charging will charge up your battery from 10% to 80% in under 40 minutes.
The most intelligent BMW to be built, the iX is inspired by modern architecture, with the intention to have a cozy ambience. The seats certainly deliver on that score. Comfortable and providing support where needed, the quilted finish on the test drive car was reminiscent more of something you’d find in your favourite spot in the house.
The Harman Kardon sound system also echoes this cozy feeling, delivering a rich sound experience. It helps that you have no engine noise to contend with.
The panoramic glass roof, with shading as an option, is the largest glass surface fitted in a BMW model.
And where you’d rest your arms, you have a conspicuous wooden panel to fiddle with the crystal iDrive controller. Look closer and you’ll see touch functionality in the wood. In our tropical weather, sometimes this subtlety is lost in the glare.
These “hidden” features are part of the “shy tech” that BMW wants to flaunt. As opposed to hi-tech which is loud and proud, shy tech wants to be effective but in the background.
But there’s certainly nothing shy about the crystal of the iDrive controller, or on the gear shifter and the seat controls now located on the doors.
To open the door from the inside, you now push a button, instead of pulling a lever. Similarly, the outer door handles are also flush with the design of the car.
The hexagonal multi-function steering wheel is designed to let you see more of the large, curved touchscreen that dominates the dashboard. It delivers information via a crisp display of colours and tones. Some of the more pertinent information are conveniently thrown onto the large head up display.
With all this newness about, it’s a bit disappointing that BMW didn’t bother to go all the way and update the indicator and wiper stalks.
Staying In Touch
Connectivity is always important to the BMW owner, and here, it’s all the latest features. There’s a wireless charger under the armrest, but there’s also a slot at the edge of the armrest where you can place your smartphone.
With the footprint of an X5, the iX is a chunk of metal that aims to be imposing. Not too many character lines etched into its surfaces, instead you have large shapes that give it more bulk. The rimless windows and a sloping roof help to cut down some of that SUV boxiness.
The slim lights are quite distinctive and can be spotted readily, and contrast against the large grille that is packed with sensors, and camera and radar technology for advanced driver assistance systems.
Two electric motors, manufactured sans rare-earth raw materials, deliver 370kW of power, accelerating this big boy from 0-100kmh in under 5 seconds. With a drag coefficient of just 0.25 (amazing given its bulky front) you do enjoy that instant, exhilarating speed, though the drive tries to emulate much of the feel of the edgier BMW petrol variants.
Handling is sharp and the responsive steering is weighted so that it’s good at picking its way around obstacles and easier to bring to a halt. Its popularity as a machine with status and capabilities means there’s no shortage of demand for this model. It ticks all the boxes, being sustainable, electric, current, practical and prestigiously priced northwards of *$400K.
The BMW iX is a confusing machine. It’s impressive for what it intends to achieve, loaded as it is with a slew of new features and ideas. But they seem to have been collected and thrown in with the enthusiasm of someone playing with a new toy.
It’ll be interesting to see how it shapes up over time.
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BMW iX RATING
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