We try out the flagship electric BMW iX SUV on British roads to see if it’s worth its £70k+ price tag
4.0 out of 5
Supreme refinement is what characterises the iX. It’s quiet and comfortable, which provides a cornerstone for its other abilities, which include practicality, quality and excellent tech. Of course, this is reflected in the price, and for the money we’d like more range and faster charging. However, these points are unlikely to impact iX owners every day. This is a superb effort at a premium electric SUV.
BMW launched its iX3 electric SUV earlier this year, but it was adapted from a combustion-engined car, like Audi’s e-tron and Mercedes’ EQC models. Now we have the iX, which is based on a dedicated EV platform – and we’ve driven the affordable iX xDrive40 model in the UK.
Affordable is a relative term, because in M Sport trim (Sport is the only other option) it still costs £72,905 – there’s no Plug-in Car Grant at this price point, remember.
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For this outlay you get a bespoke electric SUV rather than the familiar shape and interior of the iX3. In fact, the iX’s styling isn’t familiar at all; the angular lines and bluff panels are a nod towards the future design direction of BMW’s luxury models.
A 71kWh battery is sandwiched in the car’s floor, offering a claimed range of up to 257 miles. In reality we saw a maximum of 212 miles, albeit in freezing conditions. Still, this means it’ll be practical for many buyers.
Where the iX excels is on the move, because it’s one of the most refined machines on sale at any price. As with many electric cars, there’s a lack of noise as you move off – but only if you choose to. Sounds composed by Hans Zimmer can be played through the speakers as the iX accelerates effortlessly, but it’s more impressive without them, because the car’s noise suppression is supreme.
It’s matched by a comfortable ride, as the suspension soaks up creases and rucks in the road with a delicate motion, isolating you from vibrations to deliver a relaxing feel.
Occasionally, the car’s significant 2,440kg kerbweight is obvious as the chassis struggles to deal with certain situations, but these occurrences are so few and far between that 99 per cent of the time you’ll be impressed with the level of comfort.
Which is a good thing, because although it feels reassuringly grippy, you wouldn’t call the iX agile. The steering is light but quite pointy and direct, so this large SUV turns sweetly and is also quite manoeuvrable in tighter spaces, given its size and relatively long 3,000mm wheelbase. This layout helps to maximise the size of the battery available (there’s a 105.2kWh pack in the xDrive50, which costs more than £20,000 extra), but it also gives a great level of passenger space.
Head and legroom aren’t an issue, while the cabin is trimmed in a concept car-like mix of Alcantara and other technical materials that look and feel great. Quality is excellent; all of the touchpoints feel expensive and either work with the gentlest of presses or offer a reassuringly hefty weight.
This air of quality is helped by a dash that slopes towards the front passengers, giving a great view out. The bank of gently curved panoramic screens perched on top gives access to loads of tech, including one of the best voice assistants on the market.
The graphics are crisp and bright, and the touchscreen is responsive – but there’s also a click and scroll wheel you can use.
M Sport spec comes with 21-inch wheels and a sportier look, plus the excellent multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Buyers can also add Comfort or Technology specifications, which add heated massaging seats and Park Assist Plus with an interior camera, respectively.
There are some drawbacks. Firstly, the 500- litre boot isn’t huge, while folding the seats creates 1,750 litres of space. Secondly, for the money we don’t think the xDrive40 offers enough range – although 150kW rapid charging means a 10-80 per cent top-up takes about half an hour. A home charge with a 7kW wallbox will take 10 hours and 45 minutes.
Still, if that’s all there is to gripe about, BMW can consider the iX a certified success.
|Model:||BMW iX xDrive40 M Sport|
|Transmission:||Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive|
|Charging:||150kW (10-80% 31 mins)|
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