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Roadshow: 2022 BMW iX a techy EV with an eye on design

Steven Ewing, Roadshow on

Published in Automotive News

The BMW iX makes a bold first impression. From its polarizing exterior design to the holy-smokes-that's-good interior to the onslaught of new tech onboard, there's a ton of stuff to pore over before you even hit the road.

The 2022 iX is one of two new BMW EVs coming to the U.S. next year. But while the upcoming i4 is pretty much just a 4 Series Gran Coupe with an electric powertrain, the iX is a clean-sheet design from the ground up. It's unlike anything else in BMW's current portfolio.

It all starts with a composite spaceframe made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastics, aluminum and high-strength steel. Sound familiar? This is the same framework BMW used when building the i3 hatchback and i8 coupe, and just like those cars, the iX's body structure is as light as it is strong. Plus, it looks cool — lift the iX's hatch and you'll see the exposed CFRP shell along with inset taillights that illuminate when the tailgate is raised. Safety first.

Laid over that lightweight skeleton is the iX's smooth skin, with slim horizontal lighting elements, textured surfacing on the faux front air intakes and a roundel logo that doubles as a windshield fluid port. Yes, the iX has that grille, but instead of focusing on its size or design, check this out instead: The grille has a polyurethane coating that makes it less-susceptible to damage, and can actually fix itself. BMW says the self-healing effect takes about 24 hours when left at room temperature, but things like small rock chips and scrapes should quite literally fade away. Ugly? Yeah. Cool? Definitely.

It's hard to get a sense of how big the iX is, especially in photos. At 195.0 inches long, 77.4 inches wide and 66.7 inches tall, the iX is about the size of a BMW X5 SUV, just a little shorter in height. In the US, the iX will come standard with 20-inch wheels, and a range of 21- and 22-inch options will be available. The Sophisto Grey car pictured here is rolling on 22s, and like so many modern vehicles, the iX really needs big wheels to make the overall design work.

On that note, I hope you like the more aggressive face of the iX xDrive50, because it's the only one BMW will offer in the US -- well, for now. There's a slightly smoother front fascia with blue accents on the less-powerful iX xDrive40 that'll be sold in other countries, but I don't think we got the short end of the stick here; the xDrive50 looks better. Want something super aggro? BMW is working on a hotter-looking and hotter-driving iX M60, which is expected to debut in January.

 

The xDrive50 is a pretty great spec, though. Situated in the middle of the iX's 118.1-inch wheelbase is a 111.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, of which 106.3 kWh is actually usable. This sends power to a pair of electric motors, one at each axle. The front motor makes 268 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque while the rear has a healthier 335 hp and 295 lb-ft. Of course, you can't just add the two numbers together to get the iX's combined output (EV math is weird). The official figures are 516 hp and 564 lb-ft — plenty, for sure.

No final curb weight figure is available just yet, but the big battery pack means the iX will be heavy, despite its lightweight architecture. Still, BMW quotes a 0-to-62-mph time of 4.6 seconds for the iX xDrive50 — exactly as quick as a V8-powered X5 xDrive50i. It's no Tesla Model X Plaid, I know, but instant electric torque is a thrill no matter the launch time, and BMW says its batteries should be able to deliver reliable, repeatable acceleration performance.

When it does come time to plug in, the iX can accept DC fast-charging at speeds up to 195 kW, meaning you can go from a 10% state of charge to 80% in just under 40 minutes. Hooked up to an 11-kW Level 2 charger, going from 0% to 100% takes 11 hours. Official EPA range estimates are TBD, but BMW estimates the number should come in right around 300 miles. That's more than enough for the majority of EV buyers.

The iX's key mission in life is to move you and yours silently and efficiently, so don't expect sports car-like antics. That said, this EV is hardly a dud, with a nicely controlled ride quality and very little in the way of body roll while cornering. The iX uses the same lift-related dampers that BMW introduced on the G20-generation 3 Series, where the shocks have extra hydraulic damping built in for smoother rebound over bumps. A self-leveling air suspension is optional for an even more supple ride, and even on 22-inch wheels, the iX glides across miles and miles of German autobahn without even the smallest hiccup.

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