Munich, Germany—As part of IAA Mobility 2021 in Munich, The Car Guide had the opportunity to test drive BMW’s first dedicated electric SUV, the new iX xDrive50, which will land in Canadian dealerships early in 2022 starting at $89,900. This model will be followed by the BMW i4 M50, the first electric car from BMW M.
Featuring two electric motors, the BMW iX xDrive50 generates a total of 516 horsepower and 564 pound-feet of torque, which are distributed to all four wheels. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h is achieved in just 4.6 seconds.
- Also: 2022 BMW iX Specs Announced for Canada
- Also: All-new BMW iX Electric SUV Marks New Chapter for BMW
In terms of size, the iX is comparable to the BMW X5 and about the same height as the X6. It has a much lower drag coefficient than the former (0.25 vs. 0.31), making it extremely aerodynamic. A less powerful variant called xDrive40 is also available, producing a combined 322 horsepower and 465 pound-feet, but there are no plans to sell it in Canada for now.
205 km/h on the Autobahn
Soon after leaving the Munich airport behind the wheel of the BMW iX xDrive50, we wound up on a stretch of autobahn with no speed limit. No matter how fast you’re going, peak torque is always readily accessible. For the record, we hit the vehicle’s electronic limiter at 205 km/h.
Even at such high velocities, the ride is impressively quiet, with just a hint of wind noise coming from the side mirrors. The optional wheels on our tester had a layer of vibration-cancelling foam on the inner surface, which added to the serene feeling inside the vehicle. Also improving ride quality is an extremely rigid chassis—BMW calls it the “Carbon Cage”—that uses a combination of aluminum, steel and carbon fibre. It’s an evolution of the Carbon Core technology that was developed a few years ago for the 7 Series large sedan.
In case you haven’t realized already, the BMW iX is big on comfort and relaxed driving. Of course, our test drive took place on pristine German pavement, not the kind of patchwork roads we often see in Canada. But as mentioned the chassis is extremely rigid, so I’m hopeful this won’t be a problem.
The adaptive air suspension with a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear setup is fantastic, by the way. We can say the same thing about BMW’s Integral Active Steering which improves low-speed handling and high-speed stability. Both of these are available as optional equipement in certain markets, but will be offered as standard in Canada.
All of this technological wizardry makes the iX a rock-solid and dynamic SUV… as long as you don’t push it around too much. On the mountain passes near the Austrian border, the vehicle didn’t feel quite at ease attacking corners due to its 2.5 metrics tons.
Truth be told, the iX is more about smooth driving and it manages to deliver comfort levels similar to the aforementioned 7 Series, which is outstanding. Incidentally, there are various drive modes to choose from, with unique sound characteristics for each one. Those sounds were created with the help of Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer and they’re quite pleasant to the ear, especially in Sport mode.
The 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 features a huge battery with a capacity of 111.5 kWh (105.2 kWh usable) and its energy consumption amounts to 19.8-23 kWh/100 km according to the WLTP standard used in Europe.
Obviously, cruising at 200 km/h on the autobahn and shredding mountain passes made this German EV much less efficient, but range was never a concern. BMW says the iX can travel anywhere between 549-630 kilometres—again based on the WLTP standard—which means about 475-500 kilometres for us North American drivers.
The vehicle’s regenerative braking system automatically adapts to the driving conditions, which is great. Approaching a small town on a country road, the system kicked in as soon as we eased off the throttle to slow down. One-pedal driving is possible if you put the gear selector switch to the B position, but the adaptive mode proved so effective that we relied on it for pretty much the entire drive.
A full charge of the iX xDrive50 takes just over 11 hours when using a level 2 charger that delivers 11 kilowatts of power. When plugged into a 200-kilowatt DC fast charger, 35 minutes are enough to go from 10-80 percent battery capacity.
With a lounge-inspired interior that includes a floating curved display, the BMW iX almost feels like a living room. Designers took a page from the highly futuristic Vision iNext concept, creating a very spacious environment filled with light thanks to the available panoramic sunroof featuring electrochromic shading. Both the front and rear seats provide tremendous comfort.
The hex-shaped steering wheel with all-new controls is quite innovative, but the centrepiece of the cabin really is the aforementioned curved display. It combines a 12.3-inch screen in front of the driver and another 14.9-inch screen over the centre stack. A head-up display is available, too. You can customize all of them to have precisely the information and functions you want using the new iDrive 8 infotainment system, which is more advanced than iDrive 7 found in other BMW products. The system can be controlled either via voice command, the centre touchscreen or the rotary controller on the console.
The navigation system enables augmented reality directions, projecting arrows on top of live forward-looking video to show you where to go, which makes the driving experience even more pleasant and stress-free. Meanwhile, the optional Bowers & Wilkins 4D sound system delivers 1,615 watts of power through as many as 30 speakers, with some of them built into the seats for exceptional surround-sound reproduction.
On a practical note, cargo capacity is 500 or 1,750 litres depending on the position of the rear seats, while max towing is rated at 2,500 kilos (5,500 pounds).
iX M60 Coming Soon
While in Munich, BMW also showed us the M60 variant of the new iX, which will become the first M-branded electric SUV in the lineup. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until January 4, 2022 to get the full specs and see pictures of this high-performance model on The Car Guide since the company has put a press embargo on it. Stay tuned.