It’s what’s next. The BMW iNEXT concept SUV has become the BMW iX, the first of a new generation of vehicles for the German automaker as its turns its attention toward electrification in earnest.
The iX is BMW’s new technological flagship. Built on new, modular and scalable architecture, the SUV was designed from the ground up as a purely electric vehicle.
The iX is about the same size as the BMW X5 (length and width) and X6 (height). The available 20-inch, 21-inch and 22-inch wheels, meanwhile, bring to mind the BMW X7. The company says that it delivers the “sporting nature” of the X6 with the “visual impact” of the X7.
The SUV boasts X7-like looks.Photo courtesy of BMW
At its front, however, the redesigned BMW 4 Series (and it’s enormous grille) come to mind. Unlike in the 4 Series, the kidney grille here is completely closed off because there is no engine that requires cooling. Instead, it serves as what BMW calls an “intelligence panel”. Camera tech, radar functions, and other sensors and integrated into the grille behind the surface. Heating elements and a sensor cleaning system are also present.
On either side of the grille are the slimmest headlight units to ever be featured on a series-produced BMW. Daytime driving lights, with integrated turn signals, feature as two-dimensional strips along the upper edge of the headlight units. The iX comes standard with full-LED headlights. They sit back and are only visible when turned on.
Like the Toyota Venza, the iX features an available panoramic glass roof with electrochromic shading. BMW’s is one piece and is the largest glass roof ever fitted to a model in the BMW Group.
Contrasting color electric door handles fit flush into the door surfaces while doors with frameless windows make their debut in a large BMW SUV with the model. Customers looking to add more eye-catching elements to their model can add design accents in high-gloss black or in signature BMW I blue.
The car’s grille is not traditionally functional, serving as an information center instead.Photo courtesy of BMW
BMW powers the car using its fifth-generation eDrive technology, which has been honed by years working with models including the i3 and i8. In the new model, eDrive consists of two electric motors, power electronics, charging technology, and the high-voltage battery.
In recent years, the concern over the mining of materials for the batteries in electric cars has grown. BMW says that the materials in the eDrive technology were manufactured sustainably without the use of rare earth raw materials. In a release, the company said that the batteries, “are designed as part of a long-term resource cycle and allow for a very high recycling rate”.
Though specific numbers are not yet available, BMW says that the car’s powertrain will allow for around 500 horsepower allowing the iX to get from zero to 62 mph in 5.0 seconds. The SUV is expected to have around 300 miles of range in EPA testing.
WIth the new model, BMW has focused on charging, a main pain point for customers. The BMW iX enables DC fast charging up to 200 kilowatts. The battery can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent capacity in under 40 minutes. In just ten minutes, enough energy can be fed into the battery to increase the car’s range by around 75 miles. It takes less than eleven hours to charge the high-voltage battery from 0 to 100 per cent at 11 kW Level 2 charging station.
The SUV will be able to be charged via the EVgo network.Photo courtesy of BMW
BMW is partnering with EVgo to offer charging solutions. EVgo is the nation’s largest public fast charging network and the first in the U.S. to be powered by 100% renewable energy. Charging will be linked to an app to ease use. Additionally, upon purchase, fully electric BMW models will receive $100 in EVgo charging credit that can be used through the BMW Charging app at EVgo and partner network stations.
Starting in December 2020, new electrified BMW model owners will be able to sign up for the BMW Charging Powered by EVgo program using the Personal Activation Code provided in a welcome email upon the purchase of their new vehicle. By downloading the BMW Charging App, users will be able to find available chargers, swipe to start their charging sessions, and access account information on their mobile phone.
The minimalistic cabin of the iX features unique colors and materials. Door pulls are integrated into a diagonal accent strip that houses the button for activating the electric door opening function. Buttons for adjusting the seat position are located on top of the front doors while memory buttons are positioned directly alongside. The passenger-side armrest incorporates a compartment for holding a mobile phone while the audio system’s midrange speakers are embedded beneath the door panels’ fabric trim, hidden from sight.
The SUV features newly developed seats for the driver and front passengers with integrated head restraints. BMW will offer them with integrated speakers, a trend that started in earnest with the Nissan Kicks. The seats also feature multi-way electric adjustment as well as seat heating. Seat ventilation and massage functions are available. The seat belts are available in the buyer’s choice of black or BMW i Blue.
The SUV’s rear bench seat has been designed for three passengers. The two outer seats feature integral head restraints, while the center seat has a head restraint that can be folded down to improve the view to the rear. A pair of USB-C ports can be found in each of the front head restraints. The 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats can be specified with a heating function.
A slim, curved instrument panel rises toward the front of the vehicle appearing freestanding while housed in magnesium. It features a 12.3-inch driver information display and the center 14.9-inch control display to form a single unit that is angled toward the driver. A head-up display is available.
Like other models in the BMW lineup, the iX comes with an iDrive controller which forms the main control element on the center console. There, it is surrounded by a high-gloss black frame while the number of buttons surrounding it aid in vehicle functionality. A start/stop button and rocker switch (replacing a shifter) are nearby, as are two cupholders, a wireless charging tray, a 12-volt power outlet, and two USB-C ports.
The BMW iX is the first model from the BMW Group to be fitted with a hexagonal steering wheel, which affords the driver a better view of the section of the Curved Display positioned directly behind the steering wheel.
The BMW iX comes with either 2.5-zone or four-zone automatic climate controls. Nanofiber filter technology is used to purify the air inside the car. Pre-heating and pre-conditioning functions are standard.
BMW has given the SUV a standard Harman/Kardon Surround Sound System with a seven-band equalizer, eighteen speakers, 655 watts of audio power, and sound adjustment based on the car’s dynamic performance level. A Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound System is available and includes a seven-band equalizer, 30 speakers, and a 1,615-watt amplifier output.
BMW will build the SUV at its Dingolfing plant beginning in the second-half of 2021. It’s expected to launch in nearly 2022 in the U.S.