Test of the new BMW iX 2021

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Verdict

With a bespoke EV platform, cutting-edge technology suite, and next-generation electric motors from BMW, the iX promises a lot and keeps its promises. Aside from the devastating straight line pace, there is a real depth to the whole; the chassis is expertly judged, the cabin quality is high, and the actual reach is solid. As the business card for BMW’s next generation of electric vehicles, it’s a compelling effort.

The iX has been one of BMW’s most important new cars for years. Featuring the brand’s fifth-generation eDrive electric motors and a new EV-centric architecture that will underpin future BMW models, the iX serves as a preview of what is to come from the Bavarian marque. It’s a technical showcase too, with BMW’s latest infotainment and driver assistance systems wrapped in a radical SUV body shape.

Styling is certainly distinctive, with a brutal coating, low shoulder line, and widened grilles that set the iX apart from almost anything on the road. The footprint is roughly the same as that of a BMW X5, but with a significantly lower roofline; in metal, the design is not as shocking as it looks in the photos, but we would stop before calling it beautiful.

Step into the iX and the interior is much more cohesive. The instrument panel descends from a low canopy, which, together with the absence of a transmission tunnel and a panoramic glass roof, gives a pleasantly airy ambience. The quality of the materials is extremely high, with soft quilted leather and metal trims, and BMW intended to keep the bulk to a minimum, so that the dashboard is almost entirely devoid of buttons.

Instead, the main controls are on a floating center console, which features a crystal glass volume dial, gear selector, and iDrive controller, with buttons embedded in a smooth wood veneer panel. It offers an attractive incongruity in what is BMW’s most technologically advanced interior to date.

The iX offers 20 times more computing power than any previous BMW and introduces the brand’s new iDrive 8 infotainment system. It brings new features like 5G connectivity, mixed reality satellite navigation and Digital Key Plus, which uses your smartphone instead of a conventional key.

The curved, transparent display takes center stage inside and houses a 14.9-inch infotainment screen alongside a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. The graphics are extremely crisp and the interface is responsive to operate, whether through touch or the rotating dial. With so many features, however, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate the myriad of icons and submenus on the go, and the hex gauges are less readable than a conventional layout.

Thanks to the iX’s large dimensions, there is a generous amount of legroom in the rear, and the car’s square shape means that headroom is plentiful, even for those who are taller. 6 feet. The rear seats share the same plush padding as the front ones, with a slight recline providing added comfort. The car’s batteries are housed in the floor, which usually results in shallower feet for the rear passengers. But the rear seats of the iX are placed quite high off the ground, which minimizes this effect.

However, the rear-mounted electric motor poses packaging problems. The relatively large integrated drive unit on the rear axle forces a higher trunk floor, with a high load lip. Cargo capacity is still a respectable 500 liters, but the iX drags the similarly sized X5 by 150 liters as a result.

Upon launch, the iX is available as a top-of-the-line xDrive40 or xDrive50, priced at £ 69,905 and £ 91,905 respectively. Both models use an electric motor on the front and rear axles, with the xDrive40 producing 322 hp and offering a range of 257 miles from a 71 kWh (net) battery. The xDrive50 is equipped with a larger 105.2 kWh (net) battery, which increases range to 380 miles; that’s 20 miles further than a Tesla Model X Long Range. And with 516 hp available, this iX is more powerful than the latest BMW M3.

The real iX litmus test, however, is on the road. A 2.5-ton electric SUV is unlikely to satisfy the “Ultimate Driving Machine” slogan, but the iX has a good stab at it. We drove the xDrive50, and in terms of pure performance, it’s really surprising. Bury the throttle and the thrust is instantaneous and bordering on violence, with the hex steering wheel pulling your hands as the front wheels struggle to handle maximum torque.

Thanks to a gigantic total output of 765Nm, the xDrive50 feels faster than its 0-62mph of 4.6 seconds suggests and it continues to pull hard at highway speeds, if not quite with the same explosiveness. . Refinement is also excellent, and the iX feels very well isolated from the roar of the road (especially important when there is no combustion engine to mask unwanted sounds). As this is a tall, bluffing SUV, a fair amount of wind noise seeps in at high speeds, although a 0.25 cd drag coefficient makes the iX more slippery in the air than it does. an X5.

But it’s the new basics that impress the most. Made from a blend of aluminum and carbon fiber, the iX’s structure is very stiff and provides a solid platform for the adjustable air suspension system (standard on xDrive50 models). The setup is judged beautifully, and with the shocks in their Comfort setting, the iX rides smoothly, smothering uneven surfaces. Sudden road imperfections such as potholes or expansion joints are also nicely rounded, only the hardest bumps send a distant thud into the cabin.

Despite the consistent ride, the iX controls its mass well and vertical body movements are kept to a minimum, especially with the shock absorbers set to Sport. Turn and the steering is precise for a car of this type, but almost entirely devoid of feedback from the front axle.

It looks synthetic and distant, but doesn’t stop you from pushing the car around, how much the iX shines brighter than expected. With the 600kg battery mounted in the floor, most of the car’s 2.5-ton mass is concentrated downward, allowing it to hide much of its weight when changing direction.

Body roll is well contained and the iX is sharp, unlike such a tall and heavy car; this is facilitated by the xDrive50’s rear wheel steering system, which actually shortens the car’s wheelbase and adds agility. The iX can feel finicky as it approaches the limit on a narrow road, and it can’t hide its mass under braking, but it’s certainly a dynamically accomplished SUV.

Despite the impressive claimed efficiency, our car reported a range of 285 miles from 99% load, although things got better along the way. The iX offers three levels of energy regeneration and a one-pedal ride mode, which feels natural and well-calibrated.

We used the “Moderate” setting for the majority of this test, and after a 154 mile drive, with a mix of highway driving, city driving and B-road blasting, the battery had depleted to 49. %, leaving a remaining range of 170 miles. With the 195 kW fast charging capability of the xDrive50, an additional 90 miles of range can be added in just 10 minutes.

The iX is, from a technical standpoint, a very promising start to BMW’s consumer electric vehicle push. With prices starting at £ 69,905, the xDrive40 costs around £ 5,000 more than the Mercedes EQC, which offers similar range and faster acceleration. But the BMW excels in areas that cannot be judged on paper, such as interior ambience, quality and driving dynamics.

The premium xDrive50 version targets the Tesla Model X Long Range, which costs from £ 98,980, compared to £ 91,905 for the BMW. Next year, the iX will get the M Division treatment, with a 600bhp M60 variant planned – ready to take on the Tesla Model X Plaid.

Model:BMW iX xDrive50
Price:£ 91,905
Motor:Dual motor configuration (motor on each axle)
Power:516 hp / 765 Nm
Transmission:One-speed automatic
0-62 mph:4.6 seconds
Top speed:124 mph
Vary:380 miles
On sale:November


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