2022 BMW iX review: Brash looks disguise a masterclass in EV design

Forget the face and indulge in one of the comfiest, quietest cars we've ever tested

8w ago
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The BMW iX has a big job on its hands. And no, we don't mean convincing the world that a near-£100k electric X5 replacement is what the world needs right now. Nope, the biggest task the iX has on its hands is getting people to actually drive it. This is a car that set social media fairly well ablaze when it was revealed earlier in 2021, thanks in part to some punchy tweets from BMW and a face that was unlike anything we'd seen before.

But the internet also said this about the new M3 and M4 – and look how normal they appear today. So without further ado, let's skip over the looks (mostly) and find out if BMW's new flagship EV SUV is any good. And oh boy, is it good. It's bloody amazing. Read on to find out why, or watch the video below for some cloudy Bavarian scenes.

What is it?

It's a large 5-seater SUV that's designed from the ground up to be purely electric. It will cost from £69,905 for an entry-level version, and £92,000 for the range-topping xDrive50 that we drove. The latter comes on full air suspension with rear-wheel steer and two of BMW's fifth-generation electronic motors which together put out 520hp and 765Nm of shunt.

It'll get from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and on to 124mph (we managed 127mph for 5 minutes on the Autobahn), and a whopping 105kWh (usable) battery means it'll go 380 miles on a charge. That's 20 miles further than a Tesla Model X Long Range. In short: it's fast and can travel really quite far on a single charge – BMW has since said they're not going to bother pushing to build cars with any more EV range than this.

The iX isn't quite as tall as you'd think – admittedly it's slumped on its air suspension while parked here

The iX isn't quite as tall as you'd think – admittedly it's slumped on its air suspension while parked here

The iX will take a 195kW charger which will get you from 10% to 80% battery in 35 minutes, adding 90 miles in 10 minutes at the emptier state of charge. BMW's proud of the fact there is no rare-earth metal in the motor, because there aren't any conventional magnets in it.

How does it drive?

Rather noisily – at least to start with. The iX is one of the first BMWs to receive the acoustic touches of film composer Hans Zimmer, so you're treated to an oddly ethereal soundtrack as you accelerate in the different driving modes. The sound is nuanced and textured, changing subtly as your speed increases. It's interesting, but you'll eventually turn it off. And when you do, you'll hear something amazing. Nothing.

Even at speeds above 100mph, the BMW iX is unnervingly quiet. There's so little wind noise and tyre noise in the cabin you'll think you've accidentally overdosed on Spezi and woken up in a Bavarian glade, surrounded by oddly mute heifers. Thanks partially to foam in the 21-inch tyres as well as lots of aerodynamic trickery, the iX is the quietest EV we've ever driven. Usually when there's no engine noise to mask anything, all you hear is the rumble of rubber on road. Not here.

The iX has BMW's slimmest-ever taillights. So ner.

The iX has BMW's slimmest-ever taillights. So ner.

Those fat tyres have a benefit – namely an impressive amount of grip when you start chucking the 2.4-tonne iX down twisty roads. And yes, it is a heavy car despite the amount of i8-style carbon fibre you see when you open one of the doors. It resists understeer impressively well, and while not exactly entertaining, you can cover ground very quickly indeed.

The most impressive party trick, however, is the iX's adaptive regenerative braking. This uses the myriad of sensors and radars in the front grille, coupled with sat-nav data, to always give you the right amount of retardation when you lift off the throttle. It's uncanny, and the first system like this that we've really felt work. Say you're coming from a 60mph limit to a 30mph limit. Lift off 200m before the upcoming speed limit change (which you've already been warned of in the iX's head-up display), and you'll find the car coasts down to the right speed just in time for the speed limit sign to float past in the real world.

It's fair to say the iX is quite colour sensitive – grey with the bronze stripe down the side looked quite pleasant after a while

It's fair to say the iX is quite colour sensitive – grey with the bronze stripe down the side looked quite pleasant after a while

If you have a route plugged into the sat-nav then the recuperation-braking effect will also take upcoming turns into account. The sensors also warn you if a traffic light has gone red and the car thinks you're going to run through it (and an icon in the driver's display tells you when the light has gone green again). Likewise, stop signs flash up in the driver's display, with a bong if it thinks you've not seen it. None of this tech is annoying, and it's all so well integrated into the head-up display and the regenerative braking you barely ever have to use the brake pedal. More than any other part of the car, this feels like the future.

But what about the rest of it?

The cabin feel and quality is straight out of science fiction too – or at least a concept car. The seats and dashboard in our car were covered in a gorgeous blue cloth, with yellow crystal-esque seat adjusters on the door card, and a cut-glass-effect rotary controller for the iDrive system on the centre tunnel. Obviously there is no transmission tunnel, so you have a huge cubbyhole and nothing in between the front seats on the floor to stop you playing footsie with your passenger.

The latest iDrive tech is absolutely brilliant – and the cabin's cloth vibe feels posh yet different to the norm

The latest iDrive tech is absolutely brilliant – and the cabin's cloth vibe feels posh yet different to the norm

The driver's display is a 12.3-inch screen and it's paired with a central 14.9-inch infotainment screen running BMW's latest Operating System 8. It's cutting edge, and works effortlessly on its own or with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – and for once, Google Maps directions in Apple CarPlay will be shown on the driver's display as well as the central screen. You can even use an iPhone as the key to unlock and start the car – something we did on the test and it just worked, unlocking as you approached the car and locking as you walked away.

That steering wheel? It may not be circular but that doesn't make it uncomfortable to hold – it felt pretty natural after five minutes in the car and unlike a Tesla-style yoke it actually feels perfectly normal when you're doing a three-point turn.

Crystal-feeling materials make up the iDrive controller as well as the gear selector

Crystal-feeling materials make up the iDrive controller as well as the gear selector

Space in the back of the cabin is very, very generous, and your rear-seat passengers can each use a pair of USB-C connectors on the rear of the front seats to charge their devices. There's room under the front seats for big feet, and the C pillars are upholstered, meaning that you can sort of sit sideways should you wish (again, there's no central tunnel so the floor is totally flat in the back too).

Notice how the shoulder bolsters next to the C-pillar are cushioned – this means you can slouch diagonally in the cabin

Notice how the shoulder bolsters next to the C-pillar are cushioned – this means you can slouch diagonally in the cabin

What other bits of tech should I know about?

As well as showing you the maximum driving range on your sat-nav map if you zoom out enough (a bit like the circle of doom in Fortnite), there's a bunch of cool tech hidden away in the iX. One such thing is Manoeuvre Assistant – this lets you record 200 metres of driving (such as backing out of your parking space at home or getting out of a fiddly garage). The car can then use its sensors and GPS to recreate that particular manoeuvre without any input from you. You can store 10 of these routes so you can show off to your friends (and hopefully not put your shiny new BMW through the lounge wall).

Goldy-yellow crystal bits form the seat adjusters on the door cards. You open the door using the button just to the right of them

Goldy-yellow crystal bits form the seat adjusters on the door cards. You open the door using the button just to the right of them

There's also the option to add a fisheye interior camera for security purposes, or BMW suggests you can use it for happy selfies with the family, to be downloaded onto your mobile device later on.

Should I buy one?

Absolutely. For all its odd looks (which grew on most of the journalists on the two-day launch), the BMW iX feels like a masterclass in EV design. Every element of the car from the driving tech to the interior feels as if it's been thought about and honed. Nothing is different for the sake of being different (aside from the looks), and it's packed with delightful touches that make you wonder why no one's done it before. Take, for example, that front grille – it's coated with polyurethane so it self-heals any small scratches when you park it in the sun.

Combine all that tech with an incredibly quiet and comfortable suspension setup and you have a very accomplished family EV that properly feels as if it's been designed from the ground up to be a slice of the future, but in the here and now.

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Comments (67)

  • I don’t care how good it is, it’s still one of the ugliest cars ever made.

      2 months ago
  • I got used to the looks of the 7 Series, X7 and M3/4, so I should have faith that this will grow on me. And yet… it’s just abhorrent. When you buy a car for £100k, a big part of the reasoning is having an impression on other people - this is not the impression I would be wanting to make.

      2 months ago
  • From sharknose to this, what is happening!!!

      2 months ago
  • Oddly enough, the design doesn’t bother me too much. In fact, I actually like it.

    The new iX seems like a nice car.

    A well-written article along with greatly detailed photos. This was nice to read.

    Have a simple like, you deserve it, Tim.

      2 months ago
  • Wow. This has got to be the second least I've ever wanted a car.

      2 months ago
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