There are two BMW iX models coming over the next 12 months, with the German automaker launching the iX xDrive40 and xDrive50 all-electric SUVs towards the end of 2021 and the start of 2022. And both cars sound like they should be able to give Tesla's Model X a serious run for it's money.
Release Date: Late 2021
Power: 493 bhp, 2 motor, AWD
Battery range: 373 miles
0 to 60 mph: 5 seconds
Smarts: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Harman/Kardon stereo, iDrive operating system and voice assistant, optional 5G and Wi-Fi hotpot
The BMW iX xDrive 40 and xDrive 50 will both feature a twin-motor, four-wheel-drive setup that'll take them from 0-62 mph in super-quick time then on to a top speed of 124 mph. But they can also lay claim to being among the greenest mass-produced cars yet, thanks to an array of environmentally friendly features.
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BMW iX: Release date and pricing
The BMW iX xDrive 40 is due to arrive towards the end of 2021, while the xDrive50 will launch in early 2022.with the xDrive 50 prices confirmed to start at $83,200 in the U.S., which gives it something of an advantage over the Tesla Model X. Tesla's premium electric SUV starts at $91,000 and rises to $121,000 for the most expensive version.
We don't yet know if the xDrive 40 will be released in the U.S., but in the U.K. it will start at £69,000. Either way, look out for iX pre-orders to go live this summer for a late-2021 / early-2022 delivery.
BMW iX: Design and interior
The BMW iX has already turned some heads with its questionable exterior design. Particularly when you compare it to the smooth and curved edges on a lot of other all-electric SUVs.
It's a lot more rough and angled than some people might like, but fortunately the interior of the car is a totally different story.
In typical electric vehicle style BMW has included a a large touchscreen control panel, alongside a panoramic sunroof that features electrochromic shading. In other words you can flick a switch to either tint or clear the glass, as your needs see fit. It's not a trick you see on a lot of cars, but it is something we'd like to see more of.
Powered front seats are heated, and are available in leather, faux leather, or microfiber cloth.
BMW iX: Power and performance
The iX xDrive 40 and iX xDrive 50 are BMW's first ever electric SUVs, and both will be seriously powerful. Both cars are expected to offer all wheel drive as standard, with a single motor on each axle.
The entry-level xDrive 40 will produce 296bhp (240 kW) and will be able to handle the 0-62 mph sprint in a little over 6 seconds, while the even beefier xDrive 50 will serve up 493bhp (370kW) and reach 62 mph in under 5 seconds.
That's impressively quick, if not quite as spectacular as the Tesla Model X, which can hit 60 mph in either 3.8 or 2.5 seconds, depending on the model.
BMW iX: Range and charging
In terms of range, the xDrive50 has a 100 kWh battery that's good for a 373-mile trip, while the 40 has to make do with a 70 kWh cell that will conk out after 249 miles. The Model X, by comparison, can go for 340 miles, or 360 in its Long Range guise.
Both the iX cars can go from 10-80 percent of charge in a little under 40 minutes, though the xDrive 50 is faster overall in this regard: its 200 kW charging can take it to 75 miles in 10 minutes, whereas the xDrive 40 has a 150 kW charger and will add 56 miles in the same time.
BMW iX: Intelligence panel and iDrive
As you'd expect for a modern EV, the iX series is packed with tech. That large kidney-shaped front grille functions as an "intelligence panel", which houses the cameras, radar and sensors it uses for its automated-driving systems. BMW says it will process 20 times the amount of data compared to previous models.
Inside, the iX range will be the first BMW to use the brand's new iDrive operating system, complete with onboard digital assistant.
But impressive though the cars look, BMW seems most excited about their green credentials.
BMW iX: Greenest SUVs ever?
The xDrive 40 and xDrive 50 are the result of "an all-encompassing approach to sustainability" that covers every step of the production process. Neither uses any rare-earth materials and BMW itself procures the cobalt and lithium used in their batteries, to ensure that “environmental and sustainability standards are observed."
The batteries are manufactured exclusively using green power and BMW says that overall production process emissions for the iX range were cut by 18%. The interior, meanwhile, uses a "high proportion of secondary aluminum and recycled plastic" included recovered fishing nets, plus FSC-certified wood and other natural materials. In total, the iX contains 132 pounds of recycled plastic.
BMW claims that over the course of 125,000 miles, the iX xDrive40 has a 45 percent lower global warming potential than a comparable diesel car.
BMW iX: Outlook
There's still a bit to be learned about both the BMX iX xDrive 40 and xDrive 50, so we can't make any major judgements right now. Questionable exterior aside, BMW is no stranger to the world of the best electric cars, so we have high hopes for both iX models.
Plus it's commendable that the company is aiming to make the production process cleaner and more sustainable. Whether it's fair or not, the electric car industry has got a lot of flack for how production can impact the environment — particularly with the mining of lithium and rare earth metals.
We're still interested to see what autonomous and smart driving features BMW has in store as well. High-end electric cars have been going all in with Level 2, and potentially Level 3 autonomy recently. While they're nowhere near capable of true driver-free autonomous driving, it's still progress towards that goal. BMW knows that, and hopefully has a few things still to show off.