The electric vehicle (EV) space is getting increasingly competitive. BMW seems ready to jump back into the game with its upcoming 2022 BMW iX, the brand’s first fully electric crossover SUV. AutoTrader.ca got a chance to see the new EV in person prior to its launch and there’s a lot to get excited about.
With the dorky-looking, cheap-feeling, and low-range i3 being discontinued soon, the iX looks poised to reclaim BMW’s spot as an innovator and bring luxury, style, and technology back to the brand’s EV lineup. Speaking of looks, the iX’s design was rather controversial when it first debuted and BMW faced some sharp criticism about the EV’s ungainly “buck tooth” grille. After seeing it in person, however, I’m happy to report that it doesn’t look quite as bad in person; there’s something about how the car looks in photos that just doesn’t translate, but in the natural light of day, the design seems less offensive to the eye.
And while the grille might look controversial, if you think of its function rather than its form, it’s easier to forgive. The grille is where the iX’s sensor panel for the driver assistance and safety features is located. Not only does it have heated elements in it so that the sensors are never obstructed by snow or ice, but it’s also made of a self-healing material that will help ensure small knicks and rock chips won’t affect the sensors’ ability to do their jobs. The SUV will come standard with 21-inch wheels. 22-inch wheels will be optional. A large electrochromatic panoramic roof is also featured, and drivers can easily control the roof’s transparency from a button near the rear-view mirror.
Regardless of what it looks like from the outside, it’s what’s inside that counts, as the saying goes, and BMW has crafted a gorgeous, minimal interior full of luxury touches and thoughtful details. The cabin feels airy because the driver and passenger footwells are fully connected and there’s no bulky centre console needlessly taking up space. Without a traditional transmission tunnel, BMW was able to use the available area to its fullest, which makes the cabin feel modern, inviting, and roomy.
Looking more Scandinavian than German, the minimalist interior has a chic mix of textures: open-pore wood and dual-tone faux-suede, microfibre/wool-blend textile in some trims and rich, quilted leather in others. Glass buttons and brushed copper-toned Titanium Bronze accents all combine to create a contemporary and refreshing aesthetic. The steering wheel is also hexagonal, adding to its visual interest.
Beautiful cut glass controls for the seat adjustments are now located on the door panel instead of on the side of the seat cushion, a first for BMW. These glass controls add another element of luxury to the cabin and introduce a new texture and sparkle that makes it stand out amongst its competitors. The glass is also used for the gear selector, start/stop button, and volume knob, as well as the scroll wheel that controls the infotainment system. It’s such a simple but lovely detail; they feel slightly cold to the touch and are unmistakably upscale. I love the way light refracts through the glass’ many facets to make the controls look like jewels.
From a more practical standpoint, I can’t imagine how annoying it would get keeping all these shiny surfaces clean. And for what it’s worth, I felt a sense that the loud exterior design and mellow interior aesthetics didn’t quite match. The interior will age well because it’s quite timeless, but the exterior might start to look rather dated in a few years.
Like many new EVs, the dashboard has a distinct lack of buttons and hardware. Besides some air vents, the iX’s dash is remarkably clear of clutter. The infotainment screen and the driver’s gauges are two separate screens but they’re connected by a single, curved panel so it appears to be one long screen.
The iX’s body shell is made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), which helps increase the car’s rigidity for better handling and helps keep occupants safe while also minimizing weight. BMW also chose to keep the frame visible as a design decision, and it can be seen when the doors or trunk are open.
475 km of Estimated Range
The BMW iX xDrive50 will be powered by a high-voltage 111 kWh battery and electric motor that generate 516 hp and 564 lb-ft of instant torque. BMW claims the iX can accelerate from a standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds. In Canada, it will come standard with all-wheel drive (AWD) and be able to split torque as needed to either run more efficiently by driving only the rear wheels or sending torque to all four wheels for more traction. One-pedal driving will also be available for drivers who want to maximize the energy recuperated during regenerative braking.
The iX will be able to accept 200 kW DC fast charging, which can charge the SUV from 10 to 80 percent in just 31 minutes, meaning drivers can gain 150 km of range in just 10 minutes on a Level 3 charger. With 11 kW Level 2 AC charging, it can charge from zero to 100 percent in just over 11 hours.
The BMW iX will come with the brand’s newest and most updated infotainment system, which is also connected to the internet, so it will always be current and up to date. This also enables over-the-air updates. Not only can it help drivers plan trips and find charging stations along their route, but drivers can also filter to show only fast charging stations and the navigation system can even find parking spaces that offer chargers. It will also be able to show drivers if a charger is occupied or available, detail charging capacity and speed offered, as well as information on payment options when applicable.
BMW also promises a natural voice-activated digital assistant and a companion app that can help drivers manage, schedule, and keep tabs on their charging and pre-conditioning. Of course, drivers can also use their phone as a key. The car will sense them approaching with the key or paired phone, which will trigger a welcoming sequence animated by its lights. The car will then unlock the doors and prepare for a comfortable and easy entry, even turning on the heated steering wheel and heated seats (the armrests are also available as heated) if the driver has programmed it to do so. A digital key can also be shared with up to five other users. So far, it seems like this will only be compatible with certain iPhones, but wireless phone mirroring will be available for both Apple and Android users. Typically, most of a car’s cool features like having navigation instructions shown on the head-up display, for example, can only be used with the car’s native system, but BMW has expanded this to allow extra compatibility and deeper integration with Apple and Android phones.
A head-up display and augmented reality navigation will also be featured, but the EV also has an overhead interior camera that can be used to take photos of the occupants or, more usefully, utilized as a theft protection feature. When the anti-theft alarm system is triggered, a driver will get notified on their phone and then can access and save photos taken from the overhead interior camera or any of the cameras situated around the outside of the car. A driver can also access the interior camera, for example, to check if they forgot something inside.
The latest driver assistance and safety systems will also be available – from automatic emergency braking to adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, front and rear cross traffic alert, safe exit function, active collision avoidance, speed limit recognition, and more. The active parking assistant for perpendicular and parallel spots also automates the whole process including steering input, braking, acceleration, and gear changes.
Pricing and Availability
The 2022 BMW iX is expected to arrive in Canada in the first quarter of 2022 with pricing starting at $89,990 before destination fees. The 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 launches first, with a more powerful iX M60 model offering more than 600 hp planned for the future. This will be the automaker’s first fully-electric vehicle built with the performance-oriented M designation.
We are excited to drive this new EV and report back on its performance and efficiency, but for now, the 2022 BMW iX looks impressive, at least from the inside and “under the hood.” The interior alone is reason enough to consider this EV, but the generous range and abundance of useful tech should help seal the deal, regardless of whether you’re new to the EV game or an experienced veteran.