Over a decade ago, BMW created the BMW i sub-brand. This was supposed to be their first foray into the realm of electric vehicles. But after the i3 and the i8, they didn’t really focus anymore on EVs. Fast forward to 2022 and their focus is back on electric vehicles with their first model finally on the market. The 2022 BMW iX 50 was designed from the ground up to be an EV, without any gasoline range extender.
Motors – The 2022 BMW iX is available in a 40, 50, or M60 guise. This demo vehicle is the xDrive 50 which means it has two electric motors powering all four wheels. The front motor produces 268 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque (200 kW & 352 Nm) with the rear motor producing 335 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque (250 kW & 400 Nm). The total output is 516 hp and 564 lb-ft of torque (385 kW & 765 Nm). This allows the BMW iX to accelerate from a stop to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds. Pretty quick for a small house that tips the scales at 2,567 kg (5,659 lbs).
Despite its weight, the BMW iX accelerates very aggressively. Top speed is only 200 km/h (125 mph) but the way that it reaches that speed is ferocious. If you’re not bracing your head against the headrest, it could be a whiplash inducing experience.
Battery & Charging – The iX has a 105.2 kWh battery pack. Depending on what wheels the BMW iX is riding on, the electric range can be as little as 491 km (305 miles) to as much as 521 km (323 miles) . This range is based on Canada’s EnerGuide ratings which is the same for the EPA in the United States. On the WLTP rating, the iX has a 630 km range (391 miles). When I recharged the iX 50 at home, the car “guessed” that it could drive for up to 610 km (379 miles) with my driving style. Realistically though, you’ll probably get around 550 km (341 miles) of range under normal summer conditions. Less in the winter.
Recharging the BMW iX can be done through level 1, 2 and 3 chargers. The car can be bought with a 240 volt charging cable so if you have a plug like that at home, it can be recharged a bit more quickly. But from a level 3 DC fast charger, the iX can recharge in 35 minutes from 10% to 80% at a maximum speed of 200kW. Those types of chargers are few and far between so from a 50kW charger, it’ll take just over an hour and a half for the same charge. From a level 2, 7.4 kW charger, it will take approximately 16 hours to recharge the SUV from 0% to 100%.
Braking – The 2022 BMW iX has Low, Mid, and High regenerative braking with the latter being essentially a one-pedal drive mode. If you’re in the low or mid modes, you can select “B” on the gear selector and have max regen braking with one-pedal driving. The iX also had an adaptive regen braking mode. This uses GPS data and other vehicle sensors to provide more regen braking when the car is in an urban environment and less of it when it’s on clear highways for example.
The physical brakes are large 4-piston calipers on the front axle with 13.7-inch discs. In conjunction with regen braking, the iX stops ferociously. Under more normal driving conditions, the brake pedal provides smooth deceleration and the brakes don’t feel too grabby or sensitive. It’s a smooth transition from regenerative braking to the physical brakes.
Handling – Unfortunately there is no getting away from the fact that the BMW iX is a heavy vehicle. Although parts of it are made out of aluminum and carbon reinforced plastic, the weight is still high. The batteries are mounted in the floor like all other bespoke EVs but that doesn’t make the iX any more agile than others. Having said that, it drives like a BMW should. The sterling is sharp and the steering weight is perfect whether you’re in the city or on a mountain road. It’s almost as though you’re driving a BMW X5 that is fully loaded with 5 occupants and a trunk full of cargo. That’s the best way to describe the handling dynamics of the BMW iX.
Aiding the driving dynamics of this big SUV are an air suspension system and rear wheel steering. Both of these features are standard on the iX 50. The air suspension adjusts automatically whether you’re in the normal drive mode or in Sport mode. There is a raised ride height mode which you can activate with a button on the center console. The rear wheel steering helps keep the iX stable when changing lanes at highway speeds and it makes the car more maneuverable at parking lot speeds.
Ride Comfort – With the air suspension, the 2022 BMW iX is a comfortable electric SUV. It doesn’t have a firm ride but it’s also not floaty over road undulations. It is perfectly tuned to absorb bumps and still provide good driving dynamics when the mood takes you.
The seats further aid to the overall comfort. They are plush with enough adjustments for different body types. If optioned with the Premium or Premium Enhanced packages, the front seats are also massaging with a few different programs to choose from.
Interior Space – Because the BMW iX was designed to be an electric vehicle from the start, it does not have intrusions into the cabin such as a transmission tunnel or driveshaft tube. This means that there is more space for occupants and there is a lot of it. The car is roughly the same size as the X5 but it has more space on the inside. At 6’4”, I can’t complain with the amount of space I have both in the front and in the back behind my driving position.
Behind the seats, the trunk has 1,005 L (35.5 cu-ft) of space behind the rear seats. There is a small storage compartment beneath the floor for a small backpack or charging cable. And it is a thick charging cable; again, it does allow for 240V charging. Folding the rear seats is done by an electric release in the trunk or buttons to either side of the seats and they can fold 40/20/40. Cargo capacity increases to 2,205 L (77.9 cu-ft).
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Like many electric cars, the BMW iX is quiet. Actually, it’s a little bit quieter than others. On highways, there’s less road noise intruding into the cabin from the tires. Wind noise is but a whisper on highways and there is no powertrain noise. Actually, if you opt for the Premium Enhanced package, the iX comes equipped with BMW IconicSounds Electric. These are electric sounds that were in part composed by Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer. These sounds really do give the iX a sense of theater and emotion as the accelerator pedal goes down and speed builds up. They don’t replace the glorious symphony of a V8 or an inline-6 but it is a step in the right direction when it comes to making EVs more exhilarating.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – The 2022 BMW iX starts at $79,990 CAD for the iX 40. This iX 50 starts at $89,990 CAD ($84,100 USD) and this demo vehicle is equipped to the price of $113,285 CAD ($98,075 USD). The more powerful iX M60 starts at 121,750 CAD ($108,900 USD). In the United States, only the 50 and M60 are available at this time.
Gadgets – For a vehicle with a 6-figure price tag, you’d expect a lot of gadgets and this BMW iX does not disappoint. It has the usual stuff such as satellite navigation, heated seats all round, heated steering wheel, optional ventilated front seats, power liftgate, a head-up display, surround view cameras, wireless phone charging and so on.
But the iX takes things up a notch. It has panel heating which can bathe the cabin in warmth during the winter months. These radiate heat from the lower portion of the dash and the armrests. The moonroof is a fixed piece of glass but the “shade” is actually an electrochromatic transition between opaque and transparent. The car can park itself and pull out of a parking spot and it can remember the last 200m of a forward maneuver and then proceed to reverse in that exact manner. There are also soft-close doors, BMW’s gesture control, a built-in dashcam, adaptive cruise control with a good lane centering system (but it is not a hands-free system), and the optional Bowers & Wilkins sound system is fabulous. It has a demo mode which shows off its impressive power and it has a feature where you can literally feel the bass of a song through the seat. Personally, I found that annoying and distracting and had to turn it off but it’s a cool feature nonetheless.
As for the infotainment, it is a daunting new system. It is BMW’s latest iteration of iDrive and some aspects of it do look similar to the previous generation but most of it looks new. Nearly every aspect of the vehicle is now controlled through the infotainment system. It requires digging through submenus upon submenus to try to find a specific item. Happily however, it is very customizable. The main screen has widgets that you can add or remove, there’s a quick access menu that drops down, and the menu that shows all of the available apps and functions can be reorganized like as though it’s a smartphone. Also, some aspects of the car can be controlled through voice commands but from time to time the system gets a command wrong. Oh and I almost forgot to mention that it has wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto integration.
Interior Design – The design of the interior is much more minimalistic than any previous BMW vehicle. It’s a bit too minimalistic for my liking. There are literally only 3 buttons on the entire dashboard for the hazards, and front & rear defog. Every other function is now built into the infotainment system. In my opinion, current gasoline BMW models have a perfect blend of physical controls and infotainment controls but this iX takes it too far in the wrong direction.
The rest of the dashboard looks great with the curved dual screens that are mounted on thin stilts. One minor thing to note is that the blue dashboard does reflect a lot of the sun’s light on clear days into the windshield. I’d opt for a black dashboard. Something else that reflects a lot of light inside the cabin are all of the crystal controls. The seat controls on the doors and the iDrive controller on the center console shine colorful rainbows into your eyes in direct sunlight.
Sticking with the center console, it has a good design in theory. In reality, it’s a bit more cumbersome to use. The cupholders, for example, are mounted low down and make it awkward to grab cups. The cell phone holder at the very tip of the console is great for holding a smartphone. But if you live in a country where just having a cellphone within easy reach of the driver is an offense, it makes that slot useless. Also, the wood trim on the iDrive controller looks great but it is hard to see the capacitive buttons when direct sunlight shines on it.
I know I am nitpicking this interior apart but I actually like the overall design. I just hope BMW addresses some of the stuff for the mid-cycle update such as the crystal controls or redesigning the center console a little bit.
Exterior Design – Ok, let’s talk about that exterior. When I first saw the press images of the iX, I was in the same boat as everyone else. I thought it looked ugly. However, after seeing it in person, I’m not so offended by the design. I’m not going to say that it is beautiful but it doesn’t look as bad in person. Everything about the front end is designed to improve aerodynamics and efficiency. But don’t try to open the hood because you can’t. It doesn’t open. To fill the washer fluid bottle, the BMW badge pops up.
Safety – The IIHS and the NHTSA have not provided any crash test ratings on the new iX; however, Euro NCAP have given it a 5-star rating. The SUV comes with a lot of driver and safety aids. It utilizes the onboard cameras to the full extent and can not only recognize speed signs but it can automatically adjust the adaptive cruise control speed based on the sign. It can also detect wrong way signs to alert the driver and it can keep to its lane although it doesn’t not have a hands-free driving system… yet. The iX can aid the driver with evasive steering if it detects an oncoming vehicle or a vehicle in the blind zone.
Warranty – The 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 is covered by a 4 year / 80,000 km new vehicle warranty just like any other new BMW model. The battery pack is covered by an 8 year / 160,000 km warranty. For more information on Canadian BMW warranty, click here. For information on USA warranty information, click here.
Conclusion – First, I have to ask. Why did it take BMW so long to make this SUV? This is a very good electric SUV. Plenty of driving range, fast enough charging, spacious, comfortable, and good to drive. It does have some annoying things about which hopefully BMW will update with the mid-cycle update, though I’m not holding my breath. But overall this is a great alternative to the X5 for those looking for a luxury electric SUV.
Thank you to BMW Canada for providing the vehicle. www.BMW.ca