BMW iX revealed – iNEXT electric SUV gets a name and more than 500 PS, 600 km range; coming late-2021 – paultan.org11/12/2020
This is it – BMW’s iNEXT electric SUV has finally been revealed with a new name, the BMW iX. Munich sees this car as the beginning of a “new age in mobility” and the first in a new generation of vehicles that will redefine the brand moving forward.
To this end, the iX is built on a new modular, scalable architecture, distinctly separate from the expensive carbon fibre LifeDrive platform on which the current i3 and i8 are based. It is also powered by BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive powertrain technologies, delivering greater performance and range.
Of course, the iX is the production version of the Vision iNEXT concept, and while the design has been toned down significantly, the similarities are still easy to spot. The car sports a reductive design language, defined by precise lines, robust surfaces and new surface treatments for the brand.
In terms of dimensions, the iX is comparable to the X5 in length and width and is about as tall as the X6, with an X7-aping wheel size and a wheelbase measuring exactly 3,000 mm long. Compared to its petrol- and diesel-powered siblings, the A-pillars on this car have been pushed further forward, shortening the front end and providing more space for passengers.
The exterior design is dominated by the massive vertical double kidney grille, which has been closed off and given a three-dimensional pyramid structure, plus a self-healing polyurethane coating that protects against minor damage. It’s flanked by flat LED headlights with eyebrow-style daytime running lights, with Laserlight technology being made available as an option.
Along the side, the squared-off fender bulges add to the iX’s imposing look, housing aerodynamically-optimised wheels that measure between 20 and 22 inches in diameter. The angular side window graphic retains the iconic Hoffmeister kink but is visually extended by a gloss black D-pillar strip, giving the vehicle a “floating roof” look that is all the rage in car design.
The designers have reduced the number of shutlines at the rear of the car with the use of a wraparound tailgate, which is rather reminiscent of the Audi Q7. The large panel carries the slim L-shaped taillights (both the front and rear lamps are the slimmest ever fitted to a production BMW) and sits above a rear diffuser insert. The black underside hides the iX’s visual mass and adds a more rugged look.
Munich has worked hard to conceal the car’s functionality with what it calls Shy Tech. The grille, for instance, hides the cameras and sensors required for the autonomous driving features, as well as the heaters and washers to keep them clear. The front BMW roundel also pops open to reveal the washer filler, while the rear camera and its washer nozzle live behind the rear badge. The door handles also sit flush with the bodywork.
As standard, the iX comes with blue accents that are the trademark of the BMW i brand. Styling options include Titanium Bronze exterior trim and the Sport package that adds triangular “shields” on the front bumper, gloss black undersides, smoked taillights and 21-inch double-spoke alloys.
Larger Air Performance wheels are also available; they reduce drag, cut unsprung weight by around 15% compared to conventional alloys and add as much as 15 km of range. They also contribute to the car’s impressive drag coefficient figure of just 0.25, with aerodynamic elements on the front and rear ends, underbody and wheel areas boosting the overall range figure by up to 65 km.
The interior is again a sea change from other BMW models, with a minimalist design that helps give the iX a lounge-like ambience. Ornamentation on the clean horizontal dashboard is limited to the slim bronze air vents and the humongous curved display that is supported by hollow structures.
Covered by a single piece of glass, this curved panel is split into a 12.3-inch instrument display and a 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen, tied into the customisable next-generation BMW Operating System. The iDrive rotary controller has been retained but now sits on a floating control panel between the front seats.
Here, the Shy Tech philosophy manifests itself in the haptic touch controls that replace physical buttons. Buyers can specify the iDrive controller, gear selector rocker switch, volume roller and the seat adjustment switches (which have been moved up to the doors, Mercedes-style) in polished crystal, as well as an FSC-certified wood covering for the control panel.
The lack of a central tunnel has freed up space for a storage console under the control panel, where you’ll find the cupholders, a Qi wireless charging tray, a 12-volt power socket and two USB-C ports. The centre armrest is available with heating as an option, while the front headrests house another pair of USB-C ports. Adding to the airy atmosphere is the optional electrochromic panoramic sunroof, a first for the industry.
Elsewhere, a hexagonal two-spoke steering wheel makes its debut on the iX, easing entry and egress and affording a greater view of the instrumentation. Behind the wheel and the gauges is a head-up display, the projector of which sits flush with the dashboard hidden from view. A range of sound systems are offered, with the range-topping Bowers and Wilkins set-up coming with a 1,615-watt output, front seat “shakers” and a whopping 30 speakers, including in the front and rear headrests.
Under the skin, the iX is constructed with a mix of materials that include carbon fibre, thermoplastics, aluminium and high-strength steels. This Carbon Cage incorporates the lightweight composite along the body sides, roof and rear structure that can be seen when the doors and tailgate are open.
With another year to go until the iX goes on sale, BMW has kept mum on technical details, but it did reveal that the car will be available with a power output of more than 500 PS, enabling it to see off 100 km/h in under five seconds. The largest battery option will have a capacity of more than 100 kWh which, combined with a power consumption figure of 21 kWh per 100 km, should result in a WLTP-rated range of over 600 km.
As for charging, the iX is capable of up to 200 kW of DC fast charging, filling the battery from 10 to 80% capacity in 40 minutes and providing more than 120 km of added range in just 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can use an 11 kW AC wallbox that will fully charge the iX in 11 hours.
The company also claims that the car will be offered with considerable autonomous driving capabilities. Again, not much has been revealed so far, but BMW says that the iX will have the computing power to process up to 20 times the data compared to previous models. It will also come with 5G connectivity.
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