BMW iX: The ride of the future that breaks all the rules
The full-electric Sports Activity Vehicle demonstrates how luxury and sustainability are now intertwined.
There has never been a car like the BMW iX, a full-electric Sports Activity Vehicle that encompasses luxury, efficiency and performance. Then again, there has never been a BMW like the iX. It’s a flagship electric vehicle for the brand, an exciting car built from the ground up to offer the very best way to drive into the age of sustainable mobility.
It’s also a technological flagship for the manufacturer, showcasing technologies that include BMW iDrive and a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System.
BMW iDrive enables occupants to interact with the BMW iX in a new way. Its curved instrument display consists of a 12.3-inch instrument cluster for drivers and a 14.9-inch central display for passengers. The system’s intelligent digital assistant responds to voice commands and hand gestures to control the car’s functions. For instance, a simple voice command lets you adjust the clarity of the car’s panoramic roof.
The Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System features hidden speakers that are finished in the same material as the upholstery so they blend into the car’s interior. Equipped with near-field speaker technology, the speakers are designed to be placed closer to the listener for a more direct, pure sound that doesn’t bounce off other interior surfaces in the vehicle.
BMW is also rolling out 5G partnerships with mobile providers for advanced connectivity features like the personal eSIM. Where available, this helps the BMW iX interact with the driver’s arsenal of connected devices, turning the car into the ultimate mobile device. It also makes inter-vehicle communications possible without the need for additional communications infrastructure. In the future, this could allow similarly equipped cars to share data about traffic and road conditions.
A NEW CAR, INSPIRED BY TRADITION
The revolutionary design of the iX signals its unique provenance within the BMW family. It wasn’t derived from any existing model, yet it draws on visual cues from a range of BMW X cars — it has the size and width of the BMW X5, the sporty low roofline of the BMW X6, and the road presence of the BMW X7.
Aside from being a car with an immediate sense of gravitas, the iX has a distinctive vertical grille and slim headlamps, giving it the unmistakable look of a vehicle that faces the future of motoring boldly and aggressively.
COMFORT UNDERPINNED BY TECHNOLOGY
The interior is just as remarkable, thanks largely to efficient packaging made possible by the electric drive. With compact motors at each end of the vehicle and the battery pack under the cabin itself, there is plenty of room for an airy and spacious cabin.
BMW’s designers therefore had the opportunity to craft the interior into a mobile space that conveys a feeling of safety and confidence, while aiming to forge a new connection between occupants and the car.
Examples of these design considerations are everywhere you look. The hexagonal steering wheel — a first for BMW — and the BMW curved display, which is mounted on an invisible support to appear as if it’s floating, draw the eye and emphasise the sense of uniqueness about the iX.
Just as fascinating are the features that lurk out of sight, as part of a new Shy Tech approach to design. The entertainment system’s loudspeakers lie concealed behind acoustic cloth while the haptic buttons light up to reveal themselves beneath an open-pore wood surface. These features turn switches that would ordinarily be taken for granted into a source of delight.
WHEN PERFORMANCE MEETS PRACTICALITY
But perhaps the most fascinating experience is the one behind the wheel. The iX is a tantalising prospect for any keen driver.
Available for now in xDrive40 and xDrive50* variants, it presents superlative performance figures. Respectively, the two are rated for 425km and 630km when fully charged, which means they are able to cover more than a week of driving in Singapore.
With the proper fast-charging infrastructure in place, it would take only 10 minutes to add 95km of range to the xDrive40 (using a 150kW charging station), or 150km to the xDrive50 ((using a 200kW charging station).
The iX is as thrilling to drive as you would expect of a BMW. With 326hp, the xDrive40 accelerates in near silence to 100kmh in 6.1 seconds. As for the 523hp xDrive50, it whisks itself to 100kmh in 4.6 seconds.
While the iX’s athleticism is true to the traditional spirit of BMW, it represents a wholly untraditional way of building cars. Constructed with holistic sustainability in mind, it is a showcase of how recycled materials can be put to clever use.
The floormat fabrics began life as discarded nylon fishing nets. Econyl, a kind of nylon recovered from these nets and other discarded plastics, can be infinitely recycled with no loss in quality, keeping it in cars and out of landfills and oceans.
The door substructure is made from 100 per cent recycled materials while visible parts are 30 per cent recycled material. The batteries in the iX use recovered lithium, while the motors are free of the rare earth materials that are particularly harmful to the environment when extracted.
Even the aluminium sourced for the car is from plants that run on solar energy, while BMW itself has turned to carbon-free wind energy for its own assembly operations.
And as the BMW iX shows, if you’re embarking on a journey to a sustainable future, you might as well travel there swiftly, in style and comfort.
Find out how BMW is rewriting the automotive rules it helped to create.
* Singapore market launch to be confirmed.