by Jay Traugott
BMW has just taken a huge step towards the future. Meet the first-ever 2022 BMW iX, the German automaker's first all-electric vehicle built from the ground up. The i3, if you recall, can be equipped with a gasoline engine range extender, but the iX is purely battery-powered. The iX3, meanwhile, is based on the current X3 and is an overseas-only model. Needless to say, the new iX is a big deal. BMW rightly chose the hugely popular mid-size SUV segment to kick its battery-electric era as the iX's new modular architecture enables plenty of interior and cargo space. For now, the iX will be the automaker's largest EV.
It remains to be seen whether or not the 'i' sub-brand will merge into the regular lineup, but for now it'll be the source of plenty of new technologies aside from electrification. BMW is already an expert in carbon fiber production and construction and the iX takes that to the next level.
Think of the iX design as a combination of the X5 and X6, with the styling language of the X7. The iX is roughly the same length and width as the X5 and about the same height as the X6, meaning a lower roofline than a conventional SUV. Standard 20-inch and optional 21- and 22-inch wheels are a direct reminder of the X7's equally bold look. The wheelbase measures at 118-inches.
And speaking of bold design, it's impossible to miss the iX's large kidney front grille and twin headlights. The iX's overall shape was designed for maximum aerodynamics to aid range. Notice, however, that the kidney grille is totally closed because the vehicle requires very little cooling. Instead, the grille functions as an "intelligence panel," meaning it integrates functions such as the camera and radar behind a single surface. A polyurethane coating helps reduce the grille's susceptibility to long-term damage. Other notable design features include an optional panoramic glass roof, ultra-slim LED headlights and optional Laserlights, frameless windows, and electric door handles that fold into the surface. L-shaped LED taillights and a diffuser dominate the rear end.
BMW's main interior goal was to achieve space and it has succeeded. It's an overall minimalistic design but it works. The iX can seat up to five passengers with a lounge-like ambiance. Remember, there's no transmission tunnel, allowing for even greater space and comfort. Looking at the dash and you'll notice the displays and controls are stripped down to their essentials. There are even hidden speakers while the hexagonally-shaped steering wheel is a first for a BMW production model. Its unique design gives the driver a better view of the display screens. Even the head-up display projector is fitted into the instrument panel.
The freestanding curved display looks fantastic as it houses both the 12.3-inch driver information display and the centrally-located 14.9-inch control display. The iDrive controller is now surrounded by a high-gloss black frame with glass-effect surfaces and white backlit buttons.
Buyers can select from 2.5-zone or 4-zone automatic climate control. LED interior lighting and an 18-speaker Harmon Kardon premium sound system are standard; a 30-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system is optional.
The iX is powered by BMW's fifth-generation eDrive technology that consists of a 496-horsepower power unit featuring two electric motors and a high-voltage battery. BMW claims 0-62 mph requires less than 5 seconds and an EPA certification of over 300 miles is expected. New and advanced charging technology enables the iX to charge up to 200 kW for a 10-80 percent charge in less than 40 minutes. Fast charging provides 75 miles of range in only 10 minutes. For home use, an 11-kW Wallbox provides a full charge in about 11 hours.
The iX is the first BMW to have the new Carbon Cage structure that combines carbon fiber with an aluminum spaceframe. This combo creates higher levels of torsional rigidity and better overall weight reduction. The carbon fiber components in the side, rear, and roof form what BMW calls the "Carbon Cage", an evolution of the Carbon Core from the 7 Series sedan. This structure not only helps to keep the vehicle's weight in check but also provides increased passenger safety.
Official pricing has not yet been announced, but we suspect the 2022 BMW iX will cost more than the X5's $58,900 MSRP. For example, the iX's main rival, the Audi e-tron, starts $65,900. A fully-loaded iX could easily reach well into the $80,000 range.
The iX will also face off against the all-electric SUV that started it all, the Tesla Model X. The Model X Long Range, which has a starting price of about $80,000, has an EPA-rated range of 371 miles (the iX is rated at about 300 miles). The e-tron, to further compare, has a certified range of 222 miles while the $70,000 Jaguar I-Pace is rated at 234 miles. The $68,000 Mercedes-Benz EQC, meanwhile, achieves an estimated 220 miles. From the get-go, the iX is very well positioned against its rivals and we suspect an extended range version will arrive in the relatively near future.
The BMW iX will be built in Germany and should land in the US in early 2022.