The BMW iX xDrive 50 at a glance
The iX came visibly in no hurry
Good things take time, and so BMW took eight years to get their second, redesigned, electric car onto the road. At this point I am deliberately ignoring the iX3 introduced earlier (combined power consumption: 18.9-18.5 kWh / 100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g / km²), it is still based on a conventional combustion platform. So it is the iX without an additional number that indirectly inherits the BMW i3 a few sizes larger, but appears at least as polarizing as the small carbon-fiber car of 2013.
The test car is now the preliminary top model of the new iX series, which is available as the xDrive50 (combined power consumption: 19.8 kWh / 100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g / km²) with two separately excited electric motors (no rare Erden), electric all-wheel drive and quite powerful 385 kW / 523 PS. Although the 4.6 seconds from zero to 100 km / h (top speed: 200 km / h) are already very sporty to read, subjectively the feeling of acceleration is even stronger. 765 Newton meters of torque maltreat the mounted winter tires in the 255/50 21 inch format from a standing start, and in summer the iX even drives up to 22 inch wheels.
The iX does not know about spinning wheels
So that the impetuous use of power in an emergency neither overstrains people nor technology, the so-called actuator-related wheel slip limitation (ARB) has been adopted from the i3, which among other things enables even faster control interventions by the traction control. In conjunction with the electric xDrive all-wheel drive, spinning wheels (when the systems are switched on) are a thing of the past, and the high level of grip is surprising even on snow. The 2.6 ton truck also masters bends quite well, although the direct steering has been tuned a bit too smoothly for dynamic use in the alpine realm. In sporty driving moments, the hexagonally designed valance also appears very decoupled from the outside world.
But out of the foothills of the Alps, back on the Bavarian motorways. Here the BMW iX xDrive50 impresses with a high level of comfort, in particular due to the very flexible, springy 2-axis air suspension and good noise insulation. The integral active steering on the rear axle, which is also standard in the top model, increases directional stability at higher speeds and provides a comparatively manageable turning circle of 12.3 meters in maneuvering city traffic.
A range of 500 kilometers is possible
All well and good, but what about the range of the BMW iX? As always, it mostly depends on the human factor. The iX on-board computer welcomed me in the well-heated Garching press halls with an operational radius of 500 kilometers, although this distance seems realistic with a motorway consumption of 21 kWh per 100 kilometers. Anyone who constantly demands the high power reserves of the electric vehicle that comes off the production line in Dingolfing, however, quickly ends up in areas of 30 kWh and more, which thanks to the generously dimensioned power storage device seldom causes fear of range. The lithium-ion battery in the vehicle floor holds a net 105.2 kWh and, ideally, can be supplied with electrons with up to 195 kW.
Ideally, this means above all that the necessary direct current infrastructure is available. Charging processes can then go from almost zero to around 80 percent in less than 50 minutes; at 11 kW AC charging stations, such actions can easily take a whole night. BMW does not offer an option for a 22 kW on-board charger. Incidentally, if you are thinking about where to stow the charging cable at this point – there is no such thing as a “frunk” or even an opening front hat with the iX. Only the snapping BMW logo reveals a filler neck for the washer fluid. To get a deeper look under the former bonnet, you need to drive to the workshop.
Unconventional and quite expensive
The two XXL kidneys, which no longer have any cooling function, also appear unconventional. Rather, they serve as an “intelligence area” and hide – visually quite divisive – the extensive sensor system for the BMW’s driver assistance system, which in the medium term should also allow highly automated level 3 driving. Until then, however, the person has to do it himself and, above all, put the correct crosses in the option list of the iX, which costs at least 100,000 euros. Because although the Stromer can adaptively recuperate as standard, i.e. it is based on vehicles driving ahead or town entrances for independent braking, if you want adaptive cruise control you have to pay extra. Which, with the same price issue, leads us to the interior of the 4.95 meter long SUV.
This is a haven of peace and security, high-quality workmanship and – optionally – decorated with the finest materials. The same applies here: taste costs. The natural leather, real wood and crystal glass of the test car are extra, although you can save the latter due to the risk of glare in the sun. Better to keep the money together for the Bowers & Wilkins 4D sound system that even transmits the bass to the seats. BMW OS 8 replaces the previously known iDrive version – with all the advantages and disadvantages. The smartphone generation will be happy about new, individually configurable menu tiles, everyone else will probably moan about the unnecessary complication during the first trips.
Well usable trunk, high trailer load
After all: BMW still gives its customers the choice of whether they want to enter the data by voice, gesture, touch function or by means of a rotary push button. Incidentally, the two displays do not offer any reason for criticism and are close to the benchmark in the automotive sector in terms of their sharpness of detail and color fastness. And if you end up wondering whether you can also go on vacation with the BMW iX xDrive50, you will get a clear answer from me: yes! The usable trunk normally holds 500 liters, with the rear bench seat folded down, the loading compartment expands to a maximum of 1,750 liters. The Munich-based company is allowed to hook an amazing 2.5 tonnes for an electric SUV – that’s enough even for a stately horse trailer.
The BMW iX is entirely in line with the still young BMW tradition of optically polarizing, but it also delivers powerfully behind the scenes. As iX xDrive50, the Munich-based company offers a net 105.2 kWh battery that enables everyday ranges of 500 kilometers. Performance and comfort levels are indeed upper class, which also applies to the innovative interior. Above all, the comparatively meager basic equipment including a long list of options and the fact that the new infotainment operating system OS 8 is anything but self-explanatory was particularly noticeable in this vehicle class. (Text and image: Thomas Vogelhuber)