We drive BMW’s all-new iX xDrive50 prototype ahead of the model’s debut and launch in Australia later this year.
BMW might have unveiled its i4 recently to sit alongside the iX3 SUV, but the real profit-making potential lies with the iX.
It’s certainly a distinctive premium SUV, with its narrow headlights and large kidney grilles, and at just under five metres long it’s a big machine that offers plenty of space inside, thanks to a three-metre wheelbase.
Packaging is good and passengers will have plenty of room, plus with no transmission tunnel to get in the way of feet, even more space is freed up. The same is true of the boot, although housing a big battery and an electric motor means it’s a middling 500 litres.
The mid-spec xDrive50 model we’ve driven features a 105.2kWh battery, which offers a claimed range of up to 612km; 195kW rapid charging provides a 10 to 80 per cent top-up in 35 minutes – or you can add 145km of range in just 10 minutes.
With two motors for all-wheel drive, the xDrive50 serves up 385km and 765Nm of torque. That sounds a lot, but then this is an SUV that weighs a hefty 2.5 tonnes, so the 0-100kph time of 4.6 seconds is impressive and feels effortless.
The steering is precise and means that despite the pace the iX never feels nervous. It glides along smoothly, with excellent refinement. The adaptive brake energy recuperation adds to this sense of calm, using camera and sat-nav data to adjust the level of regeneration the motors offer on the move. It’s intelligent and makes the iX incredibly easy to drive with one pedal.
There’s plenty more tech on board, too. The new iDrive set-up offers haptic feedback, while the car’s twin-screen arrangement (12.3 inches for the digital dash and 14.9 inches for the main screen) delivers the kind of crisp, bright graphics and the responsiveness we expect from the best infotainment systems on the market.
The BMW iX xDrive40 and xDrive50 will go on sale in Australia Q4 2021, with pricing and specifications to be announced closer to then. Overseas pricing starts at about $165,000, as a rough guide, so this iX is a pricey machine, but this late-stage prototype shows it has the talent to back this figure up.
BMW’s combination of superb luxury with electric drive fits brilliantly here, and the iX is a refined, comfortable and spacious premium SUV that offers plenty of range, albeit at a high price. However, the technology on offer helps to justify the price.