Once in a while we drive a car that gives us a glimpse right into the future and makes us question everything we thought we knew about cars. The 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 is exactly that – a car that felt 10 years ahead of its time – and we felt genuinely privileged to have sampled it.
The iX fully embodies the modern BMW design. Its oversized signature kidney grille is as controversial as their latest M3 sports sedan and attention gets gobbled up almost instantly. Traditionally, front grilles are used for engine cooling purposes, and since that is not application for an electric vehicle, BMW was able to repurpose them to cleverly disguise the camera and radar sensors used for the iX’s driver assistance systems.
The theme of the BMW iX’s design is focused around being modern and minimalistic, as witnessed by the distinct lack of a sculpted body contour – an unusual element in BMW designs. The LED head and taillights are the slimmest units ever used on a BMW to further accentuate the futuristic appearance, and all of these elements combine to make the iX look much smaller than it is – the BMW iX is 18mm longer than the BMW X5 and only 36mm narrower.
Moreover, maybe it was the optional Aventurine Red III metallic paint and Titan Bronze exterior trim on our tester, but we received several remarks from onlookers about how they would imagine this to be Iron Man’s car – who wouldn’t love to hear that?!
As futuristic as the exterior looks, the whole transformational experience takes place once you are seated inside the cockpit. The 2022 BMW iX is home to one of the most beautifully crafted interiors we have seen in an EV. The use of leather, glass, and wood elements is exquisite and created an over-the-top presentation that wowed. The layout is distinct from the rest of the BMW portfolio, which is a welcome change despite how much we loved the traditional arrangement. BMW also stressed that iX’s interior is made up of an extensive amount of recycled materials, further deepening the company’s sustainable promises.
On top of the new interior layout, the infotainment is also all-new in the BMW iX. The BMW iDrive 8 infotainment system is delivered using the new BMW Curved Display and impressed with its crystal-clear resolution and lively animations. System navigation is a little different than before, but the controls remain intuitive through the use of a glass-finished rotary dial, touchscreen, voice dictation, or even hand gestures.
Quick feature access or favourite radio stations are now set up through a dedicated shortcut menu instead of using the capacitive shortcut keys that have been on the company’s centre consoles for over a decade, and users should adapt to simply dictating commands to the system over time. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is supported wirelessly, and we are expecting an update for Apple users later this year to allow Apple Maps to seamlessly modify the route to incorporate a charging station if it detects the distance to the destination is greater than the current drive range.
If the visual presentation somehow did not wow you, we can assure you the optional 30–speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound system will. This state-of-the-art sound system filled the cabin with sweet quality sounds, and thanks to the speakers in all four outbound seats’ headrests, as well as the bass shakers in the front seats, the experience reminded us of an IMAX theatre. EVs are generally whisper quiet by nature, an aspect that makes them the perfect luxury car, and the iX has done particularly well isolating unwanted noise.
The ride comfort in the BMW iX is excellent; there is good head and legroom in both rows thanks to the outstretched greenhouse design, and the air suspension is well-tuned to soak up all the road imperfections. The massaging driver seat further enhanced the overall ride quality but the omission of the feature on the passenger’s side is curious to us.
The full panoramic sunroof lets in a great amount of sunlight into the cabin to create a fresh atmosphere, and there is a one-touch electrochromic shading that turns the glass into opaque at a moment’s notice. Cargo volume is rated at a generous 864 litres but it is worth noting there is no front storage available unlike many EVs in the market.
The BMW iX xDrive50 comes with 516 horsepower and 564 lb-ft. of torque available at a moment’s notice. It is a significant upgrade from the standard iX xDrive40’s 322-horsepower unit, and more importantly its maximum drive range increases from 322 to 521 kilometres. Like most EVs, there is zero hesitation achieving maximum acceleration power, and to the credit of BMW’s near-actuator wheel slip limitation technology, the BMW iX xDrive50 manages to achieve a 4.6-second zero-to-100-km/h sprint with absolutely zero excess wheel spin.
The combination of this trick traction control system and the well-tuned chassis help the iX to manage corners better than we had expected. Despite its beefy curb weight, the BMW iX turns in well and the steering is surprisingly accurate. There is no road feel so don’t bother looking for it, but we find that its responsiveness and reflexes are similar to the BMW X5 which is a good benchmark to hit. Our unit was equipped with the optional adaptive two-axle air suspension system that allowed for further adjustment towards comfort or sport, and it can also be raised or lowered manually to suit the road conditions ahead.
With a starting MSRP of $79,990 for the base xDrive40 model, the BMW iX is an enticing option in a market that is not yet saturated. Our xDrive50 tester gets a price bump of $10,000 – a worthy premium given the significant power and drive range increase in our opinion – and an as-tested sticker price of $110,390 once all the colours and options are factored in. It is priced competitively against the Audi e-tron electric crossover, with the iX xDrive50 getting the edge for the its performance and overall serenity.
At the end of the week, we realized that the 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 is not only a jack of all trades but also a master of many. It delivers a futuristic experience – one that we cannot wait to be a part of – while maintaining most aspects of what a good car simply is. This mix of past, present, and future is what makes the BMW iX special and why it is not only one of the best EVs but one of the best cars in the market today.