BMW confirms it will launch its iX electric SUV in 2021

BMW's Vision iNEXT has undergone a metamorphosis and become the BMW iX. Sporting a bold new design, powerful EV powertrain and 300+ mile range, the iX is set to go head-to-head with cars like the Audi e-tron in the premium electric SUV segment. Launched at the brand's iNEXTGen event, it's arguably the most important car for BMW in recent years.

BMW would rather you called the iX an SAV. Its X-branded range was designed with the word 'utility' cunningly swapped out for 'activity' to give them more of a lifestyle-based vibe. The all-electric iX is the next generation of SAV, the first purpose-designed EV since 2013's i3 and the flagship of the brand's electric range.

Powertrain and charging 

Updated 17.03.21: The BMW iX utilises the latest, fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology which packs the motor, transmission and power control into a single unit and aids sustainability by eschewing rare earth materials in construction. There are two versions of the iX being launched; the BMW iX xDrive40 and the iX xDrive50. Both versions have two motors driving all four wheels.  

In the iX xDrive50 form, the car gets more than 500bhp – which is a fair chunk more than most rivals such as the aforementioned e-tron S. This translates into a 0-62 time of 'under five seconds'. The lower-powered iX xDrive40 still has more than 300bhp and will hit 62mph in ‘a shade over six seconds’.  

It's not just about straight-line performance. BMW has worked on maximising the efficiency of the iX's available juice, which will stand at a gross content of more than 100kWh. Energy consumption on the xDrive50 is less than 21kWh per 100km in the WLTP test, whilst the xDrive40 achieves less than 20kWh per 100km. For the more powerful car, BMW has opted for a battery of more than 100kW, enabling a range of more than 373 miles, whilst the xDrive40 has more than 70kW, enabling it to travel more than 249 miles. 

The BMW iX can be DC fast charged at up to 200kW, enabling it to be charged from 10 to 80 per cent in under 40 minutes. At that rate, 75 miles can be added to the car's range in just 10 minutes. From a domestic 11kW wall box, zero to 100 per cent takes less than 11 hours. The batteries themselves are produced using renewable power and are highly recyclable. 

Exterior design

BMW's new design direction is like Marmite: you're either going to love it or hate it. It's what BMW is calling “a distinctive re-imagining of the powerful proportions of the BMW SAV”, with minimalist use of character lines and various design features rooted in improving aerodynamics.

You're not going to miss the brand's new kidney grille, but in the iX it's blanked off and acts as an intelligence panel, incorporating a camera, radar and other sensors behind the transparent surface. The headlights are the slimmest to ever reach the road on a BMW and numerous details – such as flush-fit door handles and discreet camera and sensor positioning – adds to the car's overall clean look and ability to slip efficiently through the air. Its drag coefficient of just 0.25Cd shows there has been fruits from all this labour.

“The BMW iX shows how we can give new technologies a very modern and emotionally engaging design. The car is technologically highly complex, but it feels very clear and uncomplicated,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design.

Futuristic interior

Thanks in part to its electric powertrain, the BMW iX will offer a high level of spaciousness alongside what BMW calls a “lounge-like ambience”, aided by the presence of a panoramic glass roof. The car sits on entirely new architecture and the cabin is a big benefactor of this, with no centre tunnel – for example – delivering more legroom and storage space.

Up-front, the centre console is designed to look like a piece of high-quality furniture, though like many other EVs, minimalism has been used liberally throughout. Displays and controls are pared back to a minimum, with the myriad technology becoming apparent when it's needed (shy tech) rather than being a constant distraction. In BMW design speak, the desire is to create an emotional bond between car and occupants.

The so-called shy tech approach has been applied to features like the air vents, heated surfaces, head-up display projector and operating system interface. And whilst this minimalism isn't exactly new (thinkPolestar, Tesla, Lucid et. al.), it is refreshing from the German brand.

Price and availability

Updated 24.03.21: BMW has confirmed that the iX xDrive40 will start at £69,000 in the UK. Unfortunately, there is no initial indication of price for the BMW iX xDrive50, though we'd take a punt at somewhere in the £75-£80k ballpark. The iX will go into production at BMW's Dingolfing plant in the second half of 2021, so we'd expect the first cars to hit the road in the autumn of next year.

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