BMW’s electric revolution started with the i3, with which BMW became a leader ten years ago. That car was radical enough that it still looks modern today, while its lightweight carbon-fibre bodyshell was years ahead of its time, especially compared to conventional steel electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe. But it has largely failed to attract big numbers of customers and the company has seemed to retreat to the conventional with models like the i4 and iX3.
And yet here is the iX, which also wants to be radical and breaks with many BMW traditions. Like the i3, it doesn’t share its body with a petrol or diesel, and is built for the ground up as an electric car. But unlike the i3, it has packed more power and more battery capacity into the car so it will satisfy the most demanding of drivers. And of course, the iX is also become bigger, and is designed to be “a car for all days and all occasions."
As a full-blown large SUV, the iX actually offers more space than any other BMW 4x4, especially in the rear passenger seats. This is largely thanks to the flat floor and the huge distance between the axles, which creates more space for passengers.
And where the i3 sometimes feels a little too slow to attract the performance car fans, you will never feel like the iX is lacking in pace. Even though is weighs a hefty two tonnes, it actually accelerates like a high-power diesel 5-Series.
It handles smartly too, with rear wheels which steer to make this big car feel as agile as a hatchback. The electronically-managed adaptive suspension keeps the iX’s considerable bulk well controlled too.
And yet you can also experience the luxurious sovereignty of a 7-Series if you take it a little more leisurely. Despite hefty 20-inch wheels, the iX becomes a flying carpet.
The interior has contrasts too, with a style which steps away from the BMW traditions (except those set by the innovative design of the i3). No longer is the driver walled in by a curved dashboard and a high central tunnel, but instead will find slightly curved and extremely slim OLED screens and an unusual sense of free space.
Replacing the usual of lacquer and leather, there is also a sustainable interior with unusual shapes and colours. The few remaining switches on the wooden console, for example, which ‘floats’ between the seats, are finished with crystal glass, and what else is needed in terms of technology is cleverly hidden: BMW calls the concept "Shy-Tech". For example, the speakers or the projector for the head-up display become almost invisible. Even the round steering wheel is passé. Instead, you reach onto an angular shape which makes circles look tedious.
Technically, the iX uses BMW’s "Gen5" electric drive technology with motors free of rare earth metals, and batteries which are particularly densely packed and therefore efficient and lightweight.The range starts with an iX 40, with 322bhp and a 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds. Its battery has a net capacity of 71 kW, which lasts for up to 364 miles in the official WLTP cycle. The second model on the grid will be the £20,000 more expensive iX 50, which will have a hefty 384bhp. This is enough for a sprint time of 4.6 seconds and with its 105 kWh battery, up to 391 miles in it.
So the desire to drive does not end in frustration when charging, the iX can take on a maximum of 200 kW. On a fast DC unit, the iX goes from ten to 80 percent in 40 minutes and draws the power for 75 miles in ten minutes. There’s no doubt this is impressive but is notably below the speeds of a Tesla, Audi’s e-tron GT or even the new Hyundai and Kia models.
Although the iX with its mixture of performance and luxury meets all the expectations of BMW customers, the company is aware that not everyone will love its looks. So it makes an alternative offer for those who want to switch to electric but want something more classically designed - the technically similar i4. BMW seems to have all the critics silenced then. The iX for observers who said it had lost its appetite for bold and innovative electric cars after the i3. And the i4 for those who might need a little more time to adjust to the new electric world.