BMW iX electric SUV: prices, specs and release date
The new BMW iX electric SUV promises a 373-mile range and 200kW charging speed; starts from £69,000 in the UK
The BMW iX is a new range-topping electric SUV from the German brand. It’ll go on sale at the end of 2021 in xDrive40 and xDrive50 forms, with prices starting at £69,000 in the UK.
That figure will be for the entry-level xDrive40 variant, which has a 249-mile range, although the xDrive50 will offer a 373-mile driving range. That version also brings 200kW charging speed, which takes the battery from 10-80% charge in just 40 minutes, while the entry-level car has 150kW charging, which BMW says will add 56 miles of range in 10 minutes.
Both models have two electric motors, one on each axle, for four-wheel-drive power. The xDrive40 makes over 295bhp and can go from 0-62mph in just over six seconds, while the xDrive50 has over 493bhp and goes from 0-62mph in under five seconds. The entry price of the iX is close to that of a conventional BMW X5, and it’s a similar size and shape to that car. Rivals for the iX include the Tesla Model X and the forthcoming Mercedes EQS.
The current BMW iX3 is quite closely linked to the X3 it's based on, but the iX isn’t directly related to the X5. It gets a totally new look, which will also inform the design of future BMW electric models like the upcoming i4 saloon. Obvious BMW design features such as the 'kidney' grille and twin headlights remain, though.
The BMW iX will use technology that's destined to be shared with many other models in the maker's range. It's a common practice in the industry – for example, the Volkswagen Group's MEB architecture forms the basis of models like the Volkswagen ID.3, Volkswagen ID.4, Cupra Born and Skoda Enyaq iV.
BMW iX electric motor, range, charging and batteries
The iX is powered by a new version of BMW's 'eDrive' electric powertrain, with two electric motors generating a maximum power output of 496bhp, which is enough for a 0-62mph time of less than five seconds. Power is stored in a 100kWh battery and BMW says this will be enough for just over 370 miles of driving range before recharging is needed.
When it comes to charging, BMW says the iX will have the capacity to replenish its battery at speeds of up to 200kW, where such charging points are available. That would allow for a top-up from 10% to 80% capacity in less than 40 minutes, while charging fully from an 11kW home wallbox will take under 11 hours. In addition to making the electric drivetrain as efficient as possible, BMW has also put significant efforts into making the iX as light and aerodynamic as possible to make the best use of the battery's stored energy.
Aerodynamic touches include the overall streamlined body shape, flush doorhandles and slender door mirrors, as well as adjustable flaps built into the grille and other front surfaces of the car. These stay closed most of the time but can open when extra cooling air is required.
BMW reckons up to 40 miles of the iX's range can be attributed to those measures, while further benefits come from an optional sport package that adds 'Air Curtains' up front to direct air over the wheels without turbulence and 'Air Blade' at the rear to minimise the vacuum effect behind the car, adding another nine miles of range. The standard 20-inch alloys can also be upgraded to 21 or 22-inch 'Air Performance' drag-reducing wheels, promising another nine miles of added range.
Finally on the aerodynamic front, particular attention has been paid to sealing and smoothing the underbody where possible, gaining another six miles of range in the process, according to BMW. Elsewhere, a variety of materials have been used in constructing the iX's body in order to keep weight as low as possible, including high-strength steel, aluminium, thermoplastics and carbonfibre-reinforced plastic.
Automation and connectivity
In addition to its strong claimed performance, range and charging figures, the iX also incorporates a swathe of automated driving and connectivity features, which are likely to 'trickle down' to smaller and cheaper BMW electric models in time.
BMW says the iX has 20 times the on-board computing power of previous models, allowing it to process double the amount of data coming from cameras and sensors mounted around the car. This will allow for a very high level of automated driving capability and an extensive range of driver-assistance and collision-avoidance technology.
According to BMW, the iX has been designed "from the inside out" with prime consideration given to the passenger environment. As there's no large engine block to fit in up front, the windscreen pillars are further forward on the iX than they would be on an equivalent combustion-engined car. This pays dividends when it comes to interior space.
A large panoramic glass roof and no central tunnel to intrude on legroom are said to contribute to a spacious and airy feeling inside the iX, while on-board technology has been designed to be unobtrusive and user-friendly – something BMW calls a 'shy tech' approach. The iX also features a hexagonal steering wheel – a first for BMW – and a head-up display.
The centrepiece of the iX's interior is a slim instrument panel, incorporating a large curved display screen – the first time such technology has been offered in a production BMW. The screen appears freestanding from the occupants' point of view and is made from anti-reflective glass, so does not need to be shielded from sunlight.
Voice control and touchscreen functionality can be used to operate most functions, but drivers can also use the familiar BMW iDrive control wheel to navigate menus and select options if they prefer. The wheel is integrated into a centre console that features a control surface divided up by 'feeler bars' instead of conventional separate buttons.
The space gained from the lack of a central tunnel is also used to create additional storage in the centre console; the lower level houses a pair of cupholders, a smartphone tray with inductive charging, a 12V power connection and two USB ports. The centre console armrest opens to reveal an illuminated storage compartment.
The sports front seats can be specified with integrated speakers, while in the rear BMW is promising a "lounge-style ambience," with a bench seat designed for three occupants, and the two outer seats getting integrated head restraints. Coat hooks, tablet computer mounts and USB charging ports are all fitted for rear-seat occupants to use, while the rear seats split and fold in a 40:20:40 ratio to allow boot space to be extended.
A number of interior upholstery options will be available, including a textile-and-microfibre blend, Sensatec synthetic leather and natural leather. Wood and recycled plastics are also used around the interior, including on the door panels, seats, centre console and floor lining.
As standard, the iX gets a 12-speaker audio system, but this can be upgraded to a Harmon Kardon surround-sound setup with 18 speakers (including four built into headrests) and a pair of subwoofers fitted under the rear seats. A further possible upgrade is a Bowers & Wilkins concert-hall setup with 30 speakers (including eight built into headrests) and '4D Audio' capability.
On-sale date and price
BMW says production of the iX will begin in the second half of 2021, with first deliveries to customers by the end of the year. The entry-level xDrive40 will cost from £69,000, but we expect higher-spec models and the xDrive50 car to close in on £100,000 with some options added.