A hugely powerful SUV from BMW stopped being a headline grabber some years ago but this one is different. It’s entirely electric, produces more than 500PS and will have a range in excess of 350 miles.
First presented as the iNext concept, the freshly minted iX is BMW’s first clean sheet, solely electrically-powered vehicle to hit the streets, and its styling will certainly make its presence felt. Around the same length and width as an X5 but with a lower, X6-rivalling roofline the iX is built on what BMW says is a modular, scalable architecture which will allow for future vehicles of different design and purpose.
The iX features an aluminium spaceframe and carbon cage for maximum rigidity, weight saving and occupant safety. Powered by BMW’s fifth generation eDrive, the iX utilises two electric motors providing all-wheel drive and a 0-62mph time of less than five seconds. BMW says its power units are manufactured sustainably without the use of rare earths and that the iX has a particularly low power consumption figure of 21kWh per 100 kilometres. The batteries can be charged to provide a 75-mile range in less than 10 minutes and to 80 per cent capacity in less than three-quarters of an hour.
There are some cues which set it aside as an EV, such as the optional blue flashes on the bodywork, the notch in the c-pillar shared with the i3 and i8 and the beefy wheels, possible because electric cars require less brake cooling.
And there is of course the controversial grille. Which, well, isn’t a grille anymore since EVs have much lower cooling requirements all round. However, rather than do away with it entirely as Tesla has done, BMW has created what it calls an ‘intelligence panel’ - a transparent screen behind which nestle cameras, radar equipment and other sensors.
This is an example of what the maker calls ‘shy tech’, like the rear view camera integrated into the rear BMW logo and the windscreen washer fluid hidden under the front one. Also in this category are the car’s flush-mounted, pop-out door handles which have clearly become the styling flourish du jour. The not-grille is flanked by what BMW says are the slimmest light units ever fitted to one of its cars, matched by those at the rear.
The interior is an exercise in minimalism with a curved display screen stretching from in front of the driver across to the centre of the car and, with the absence of any buttons on display other than an iDrive controller, will serve to control most of the car’s functions. Likewise the separation between seat and headrest has been done away with and there is of course no central tunnel thanks to the lack of a fore and aft driveshaft. The steering wheel for some reason is hexagonal and has two horizontal spokes. Perhaps the interior designers of the Allegro were on to something all those years ago.