If looks could grille ... BMW unveils its all-electric iX SUV

The BMW iX gets the firm's controversial new vertical kidney grilles.
The BMW iX gets the firm's controversial new vertical kidney grilles.
Image: Supplied

BMW on Wednesday finally gave the world a first glimpse of its highly-anticipated iX.

The latest addition to its growing line of all-electric “i” vehicles, the iX is comparable with the current X5 in length and width and is almost the same height as the X6 on account of its flowing roofline. The size of its wheels, meanwhile, brings to mind the X7 while its nose is clearly inspired by the latest 4 Series.

Love 'em or hate 'em, those controversial vertical kidney grilles are making yet another appearance. Except, with no engine to keep cool, they're purely ornamental. Instead they here serve as a so-called “intelligence panel” that houses a camera, radar and various other sensors needed for the car's cutting-edge driver assistance systems. 

So what powers the iX? Peel away the skin and you'll find the firm's latest fifth generation eDrive system with two electric motors (one on each axle) delivering a maximum output of more than 370kW. Good enough for a claimed 0-100km/h dash of less than five seconds.

The iX offers snappy performance with a 0-100km/h time of less than five seconds.
The iX offers snappy performance with a 0-100km/h time of less than five seconds.
Image: Supplied

BMW says that this sophisticated drivetrain offers a combined electric power consumption of less than 21kWh/100km in the WLTP test cycle. Mated to a high voltage battery with a gross energy content of “more than” 100kWh, the iX ensures a range of more than 600km on the same cycle. This equates to more than 480km, according to the EPA’s FTP-75 test procedure. However, before we get ahead of ourselves, it's important to remember that all these figures are based on the car’s current stage of development. 

The new charging technology of the iX enables DC fast charging at up to 200kW. This means that the battery can be charged from 10 to 80% of its full capacity in under 40 minutes. Added to which, within 10 minutes enough energy can be fed into the battery to increase the car’s range by more than 120km. According to BMW it takes less than 11 hours to charge the battery from 0 to 100% when using a standard 11kW wallbox.

BMW claims that batteries fitted in the iX are designed as part of a long-term resource cycle and enable an exceptionally high recycling rate. Also, the power used to produce the battery cells and high-voltage battery as a whole come from renewable sources.

A minimalist interior sports a hexagonal steering wheel.
A minimalist interior sports a hexagonal steering wheel.
Image: Supplied

The interior of the iX is a study of design minimalism with no unnecessary dials or buttons cluttering cabin surfaces. A new “BMW Curved Display” spans a fully digital screen grouping made up of a 12.3-inch “Information Display” and 14.9-inch “Control Display” with single-piece, frameless glass surface.

Another highlight is a sumptuously designed centre console that features an innovative new rocker switch for gear selection, a “Touch Controller” and an illuminated glass effect control surface subdivided by feeler bars with active haptic input for controlling vehicle functions. Optional “Clear & Bold” specification includes surfaces in open-pore wood and controls with a polished crystal finish. The iX is also the first BMW vehicle to ever be fitted with a hexagonal steering wheel.

While currently still in the series development phase, BMW has confirmed that the iX will go into production at the end of 2021. 


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