The electric SUV formerly known as the iNext.
BMW's futuristic 'i' sub-brand had a somewhat soft start to its life. While the i3 was a genuine EV, the i8 sports car was a plug-in hybrid that stunned with its good looks but ended up being a little lackluster from behind the wheel. However, the next generation of BMW i vehicles is set to be revolutionary. We've already seen the BMW iX3, an electric variant of the X3 SUV, and the BMW i4 electric sedan. Now, it's time to meet the newest member of the family - formally previewed by the BMW iNext concept, the production version of BMW's new flagship SUV will be called the BMW iX, and this is it.
Unveiled via the German automaker's #NEXTGen online event, we've received confirmation of the rumored name change. As previously speculated, the iX is an X5-sized electric crossover that will serve as the brand's new electric flagship - at least until the rumored iX7 SUV arrives.
The iX is constructed using the manufacturer's latest Carbon Cage structure, pairing carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) with an aluminum spaceframe for high levels of torsional rigidity and weight reduction. As for what's under the surface, BMW's fifth-generation eDrive technology comprises a 496-horsepower "power unit" made up of two motors and a high-voltage battery.
The 0-62 mph sprint takes less than 5 seconds while the EPA-certified range rating of the iX is more than 300 miles. For reference, a Tesla Model X can manage 371 miles. New charging technology enables the iX to charge at up to 200 kW, allowing a 10-80% charge to be completed in under 40 minutes, while fast charging enables 75 miles of range after 10 mins of charging. From flat, an 11-kW Wallbox enables a full charge in under 11 hours.
From a design perspective, the electric platform has enabled the iX to retain unique proportions. Despite being X5-sized in length and width, the roofline is as low as that of an X6. The wheels, however, are 20 inches as you'd find on an X7, found at either end of a 118.1-inch wheelbase, while options include 21- and 22-inch Air Performance Wheels that reduce drag and weigh 15% less than conventional alloys to increase range by up to 9 miles. The design is identifiable as a BMW but is less extreme than previous i models. Every surface has been designed with efficiency in mind though, with sheared edges and door handles integrated so as not to protrude from the door surface at all.
BMW claims the body has a best-in-class drag coefficient of just 0.25 Cd. The iX also portrays a new generation of design for the brand, with new slim LED matrix head- and taillights - the slimmest ever to feature on a series-production BMW. Frameless windows and a frameless tailgate are further design highlights.
The interior combines the spaciousness afforded by an all-electric platform with a new approach to interiors, which BMW describes as feeling like "a loft on wheels", with cozy seating and minimalistic design elements. Items like the climate control vents are integrated into the dash creases, while a single curved panoramic screen spans from the center of the dash to behind the steering wheel to double up as both infotainment and instrumentation.
Five can be seated in the iX's cabin on newly developed seats that BMW claims has a lounge-like ambiance. The all-electric architecture affords occupants huge amounts of space with no transmission tunnel running down the center of the floor, while a panoramic glass roof adds a further element of spaciousness.
The iX is also a technological flagship for BMW, which is why the computer systems have been upgraded to process 20 times the data volume of previous models. Additionally, the iX is the first 5G-capable BMW product and will be given a host of autonomous driving abilities, including automated driving and parking functionality. Other standard features include 2.5-zone automatic climate control, the aforementioned curved display, and a head-up display unit. The glass roof can be dimmed by means of electrochromic shading to block out the sun. A range of audio options is being made available, including a standard 12-speaker setup, an available 18-speaker Harman Kardon Surround Sound System, or, for the discerning audiophile, a 30-speaker Bowers & Wilkins system with 1,615 watts of output.
Production of the BMW iX begins next year, but it will only arrive in the US early in 2022.