BMW iX: First test drive with the electric SUV

It was unquestionably a turning point that BMW drove to with the X5 more than 20 years ago. The success proved those responsible, and not me, who couldn’t pretend how this jacked-up thing should fit the brand, demands and customers. The next revolution is looming, and its chances of success should be better than with the X5 experiment back then. Together with the i4, the iX represents a change at BMW that will gradually change the brand more sustainably than ever before in the long history of the group. A first trip with the standard BMW iX xDrive50.

The change has long been underway for BMW. Gone are the days when you could set yourself apart from the competition with high-revving, well-engineered engines. In the drive area, your own advantages will be more difficult to communicate in the future, which is not surprising. It is impressive that the electric motors do not use rare earths and that the cobalt content in the batteries has been further reduced – BMW relies on NMC811 cells – but such details are less light-footed than the sound and power of a straight six-cylinder the past. So other arguments are needed to attract solvent customers.

First, however, a previous recipe should ignite, because BMW is showering the E-SUV with power, so to speak. Even the basic model iX xDrive40 offers 240 kW, the iX xDrive50 we moved at the appointment has a system output of 385 kW. The front engine has an output of 190 kW, the rear 230. The curb weight is just under 2.6 tons. BMW promises an acceleration from zero to 100 km / h in 4.6 seconds, which seems believable, but is relatively imperceptible because there is no din. Because of course there is enough budget in this class to install excellent insulation that also keeps out wind and tire rolling noise. BMW took the chance, the iX is a very quiet car.

This fits in with the basic alignment of the chassis, which satisfies comfort rather than dynamic requirements. Sure, the iX can take bends at a considerable speed, but even BMW cannot conjure up an empty weight of 2.6 tons. There is no active roll stabilization, so the SUV leans noticeably in curves, whereby it is noticeable that the seats should offer a little more lateral support. In this regard, the iX can travel faster than the vehicle’s orientation suggests. The chassis hardly reports bad roads, and never gives the impression of complete decoupling.

If you missed statements about the design of the BMW iX in the article …

The driver should always keep an eye on the speed, because the comfortable cover skilfully conceals how fast the car is currently driving. Up to 200 km / h should be possible, we haven’t tried it. But intermediate sprints well below this top speed indicate that this iX can be a fast car.

Ample weight, high performance and, last but not least, a huge frontal area are, of course, ingredients for an overall concept, which in the end cannot result in sensationally low power consumption. You shouldn’t fool yourself here: BMW already mentions values ​​between 19.8 and 23 kWh in the WLTP, with this first short trip it was in the end 26.9 kWh / 100 km – with a little margin downwards and significantly more upwards. The consumption in the cycle cannot simply be converted into range – we have explained why in this article.

A battery with a net energy content of 105.2 kWh serves as storage in the xDrive50. BMW promises a range between 549 and 630 km under the conditions of the cycle. The charging option becomes more exciting and also not easy to communicate, at least when the customer wants to take a closer look. In terms of alternating current, it will remain at 11 kW for the time being, although BMW will later add the option of 22 kW.

The 195 kW direct current are more exciting for long-distance travel, but it is becoming apparent that such peak values ​​alone do not say anything about the charging time in practice. BMW calls a time of 35 minutes for a charge from 10 to 80 percent. In relation to the net energy content, this would mean that the average charging power in this window is around 126 kW – provided that the infrastructure plays along, of course.

It will be difficult to advertise such things in a target group-oriented manner, because a quiet, fast car that can be quickly recharged is not a unique selling point for BMW. So you try two other areas, one of which is autonomous driving. The iX is prepared to be able to drive autonomously at level 3. This means that the driver no longer has to monitor the car in a defined scenario, but on the other hand must always be able to take over the steering wheel when the computer no longer knows what to do. In the long term, at least in the medium term, there will be an opportunity to offer more than some of its competitors. When this will be activated has not yet been determined, but the interested party can assume one thing: BMW will have this gift silver-plated.

(Image: jamesteohart /

Autonomous driving, the effects on the transport of people with robotic taxis, people movers, autonomous buses and the necessary techniques and regulations deal with us in a ten-part series

BMW i4 and iX will be the first models to receive the “Operating System 8”. The Munich-based company is taking a very courageous path here, because on the one hand, Android Automotive is a huge software company that is powerfully rolling into this area. On the other hand, more was moved to the cloud than in OS7 – the current system. A stable cellular connection is then required for transmission to and from the car. The complete range of functions would go beyond the scope of this text. There are numerous widgets that can be configured and are intended to comfort all those who regret the freely assignable favorite buttons. Updates and upgrades are delivered over-the-air to the car. There will also be the option of having individual functions activated at a later date or of renting them for a certain period of time.

Voice control will play an even greater role in the future, because the first impression from the car shows that there are an unbelievable number of options, but despite the thoroughly well thought-out menu navigation, it remains a challenge to use them without voice commands. This worked very smoothly in the test car, there are probably only a few functions that require a tap on the screen.

The basic model costs 77,300 euros, and this price is not a coincidence, but a very hard calculation. Because the net price of the basic model is 64,957.98 euros and thus below the 65,000 euros limit, up to which there is the innovation bonus of 5000 euros. Since the limit only applies to the cheapest model, every BMW iX receives this subsidy. Most iX buyers will probably not urgently need the government subsidy, but will certainly be happy to take them with them.

The interior of the BMW iX is radically different from the previous models.

For the xDrive50 model we drive with significantly more power and a larger battery, the group charges a surcharge of more than 20,000 euros – nothing can be done below 98,000 euros. However, it is also true that the price list is surprisingly short by BMW standards, because the standard equipment is already very extensive. Which is not to say that the calculators forgot to price special requests accordingly. If you like, you can spend over 3000 euros for large rims, 2000 for even better light and almost 5000 for a sound system.

In this context, the idea of ​​an electrochromatic glass roof also seems to be outstanding. It lets in outside light at the push of a button. If there is no electrical voltage, elements darken the glass surface. Mercedes offered a comparable roof in a roadster many years ago. The iX buyer must be worth 3300 euros. That seems like a lot for a square meter of light, especially since the roof cannot even be opened.

BMW can probably hope that customers will not be petty. Anyone who is angry about the fact that the taxpayer is supporting a 2.6-tonne e-SUV with funding is on the one hand absolutely right, but on the other hand you can perhaps at least reassure yourself that the iX will remain an exotic vehicle in this country. It is a figurehead of the BMW brand, which is supposed to document that one wants to tackle the challenge of change courageously. Whether the chosen path of reducing the primary energy requirement with a massive use of resources on the way makes sense? The next big hope of BMW is probably that nobody questions this very closely.


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