When BMW first revealed its flagship iX electric SUV in November, we speculated that it would cost $70,000 or more, based on its luxury styling and upgraded battery. Well, we were right — sort of. The German automaker has just announced that when it goes on sale early next year, the new EV’s suggested price tag will exceed $80,000.
That puts the iX squarely in Tesla Model X territory and leaves open the possibility that it may dethrone Elon Musk’s falcon-winged EV as the luxury SUV of choice for consumers. It will also compete with the Audi E-tron, Jaguar I-Pace, and Mercedes EQC when it eventually hits dealerships in the first quarter of 2022.
According to BMW, the iX will start at $83,200 for the iX xDrive 50 when preorders for the SUV begin in the middle of the year. That sum will get you an electric all-wheel drive motor configuration capable of putting out 516 horsepower for a 0–62mph sprint in 4.6 seconds. BMW says the iX will have an estimated range of around 300 miles based on the EPA’s testing model, which falls short of the entry-level Tesla Model X with 360 miles of driving range on a full charge.
But the xDrive 50 variant won’t be the only version of the iX for long. BMW is planning a more powerful iX M60 model for the future, with over 600 horsepower and the first all-electric SUV from BMW M GmbH subsidiary — though the automaker won’t say exactly when that will be.
The Verge got to see the iX in person at an event at the Classic Car Club in Manhattan last month, and while we weren’t allowed to drive it or even take pictures, we can say that the electric SUV looks as compelling as it did on-screen in November. There has been some criticism of the vehicle’s design, mostly directed at the aggressive and superfluous blocked-off kidney-shaped grille.
But more than that, the grille serves as an “intelligent sensor panel” made with a polyurethane coating that can self-repair small scratches within 24 hours at room temperature or through a five-minute supply of warm air.
Don Smith, product manager for BMW, said that while “obviously it makes no sense to have an open grille,” the automaker’s customers “want it to look like a BMW.”
There were a handful of quirky design features that are sure to delight car shoppers. The rearview camera is embedded in the BMW logo positioned in the center of the tailgate. If the camera is obscured by mud or dirt, the logo extends out a few centimeters to reveal a spray of washer fluid.
The all-glass panoramic roof includes electro-chromatic dimming, turning from translucent to milky opaque in a fraction of a second. And the iX is the first vehicle from BMW to come with a radiant heating system, which brings heating on vertical surfaces such as the instrument panel, glove compartment, door panels, and contact surfaces like the center armrest and steering wheel.
A lot of new technology will make its debut in the iX SUV, from DC fast charging capabilities at up to 200kW, to available 5G and Personal eSIM support. The single-piece panoramic glass roof comes with electrochromic shading. And the Digital Key Plus feature with ultra-wideband radio technology will allow owners to use their smartphones to start the vehicle.
The BMW iX xDrive50’s fifth-generation eDrive platform uses a 400-volt battery pack with a gross energy content of 111.5kWh and a net energy content of 106.3kWh. That makes it possible to charge from 10 percent to 80 percent at a DC fast charger at 200kW in about 40 minutes.
The curved iDrive display was impressive, with colorful graphics and very little lag when switching between menus. The version of the iX that was available at the Classic Car Club was only a pre-production model, so not everything on the display was final.
The rest of the control panel design is an example of BMW’s shy tech principle. Instead of conventional buttons, a control surface with active haptic input subdivided by feeler bars is used to select the iDrive menu’s other functions. And there will be a host of additional high-tech features that are commonly found on luxury EVs, such as augmented reality heads-up display to help with navigation.
Along with the i4 luxury sedan, the iX will be BMW’s technological flagship, meaning it incorporates multiple technologies that will be featured in the German automaker’s upcoming vehicles, mainly electric powertrain and driver interface. It’s been a long time coming, and when it finally comes out next year, it will represent the start of something new for BMW.