BMW iX 2022 long-term test
Munich’s first luxury car of the electric era proved so impressive that those looks hardly even matter any more
*Why we ran it: *To see if the BMW iX, the firm's second dedicated electric car, could live up to its range-topping billing
-Month 7 - Month 6 - Month 5 - Month 4 - Month 3 - Month 2 - Month 1 - Specs-
-Life with a BMW iX: Month 7-
*Munich’s first luxury car of the electric era proved so impressive that those looks hardly even matter any more **- 26 April 2023*
Call it a short memory, naivety or most likely just familiarity from close to 10,000 miles covered in one, but on reading the early coverage of the BMW iX again as research for this report, I had forgotten just how much the styling question had lingered over Munich's flagship electric SUV.
Reflecting again now, I don't think it's as bad-looking as it could have been (have you seen the new BMW XM?), or as bad as some (probably me included) made out, and out in the real world nobody ever seemed to comment.
So I will politely say that it makes an impact and wouldn't be a deal-breaker and leave it at that. Besides, there was so much else to enjoy and experience with this most interesting and appealing of electric cars.
The IX was BMW's first bespoke EV in a decade. It's very different to the i3, of course, being a large SUV of the kind of squashed-crossover style many brands are converging on at the moment, as seen in the Audi Q8 E-tron (née E-tron) Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC.
Yet the i3 and iX share a common ethos in being built from the ground up as EVs rather than being ICE car conversions. The i3 reimagined an urban car for the electric era, and the iX shows how luxurious (and I deliberately used that word rather than 'premium') an SUV can be by being electric.
For the IX was almost as refined and comfy an SUV for everyday driving as the Range Rover. Dynamically, that tells you much of what you need to know. It had a smooth ride, predictable handing and supreme refinement. It was that good at covering distances and giving its driver and passengers a calming and relaxing experience.
This car was the first in which I did big miles after the pandemic; five figures on an odo are rarely seen in these pages nowadays given the reduced miles that we've been doing for the past few years. A near-200 chunk of those miles were from taking the i into Europe twice, where that comfort and refinement really shone.
There are three versions of the iX offered: the smaller battery (71kWh) xDrive 40, the larger battery (105kWh) xDrive 50 and the more powerful M60 range-topper, which also uses the bigger battery.
The xDrive50 is the undoubted iX sweet spot, its extra range being a boon and the additional power of the M60 not being needed (516bhp from two motors is enough already, thank you). The M Performance model also gets a sportier chassis tune that makes it less comfortable and relaxing to drive while also harming efficiency.
Range is still a dominant topic with EVs, but in the iX it was so long that journeys required little extra planning or preparation. It could push north of 350 miles in the summer on mainly local journeys (for more regen) and never below 220 at continental cruising speeds.
It wasn't guaranteed to reach its peak charging rate of 195kW, but I never waited longer than I needed to at a public charger due to it charging too slowly. Besides, like many iX owners, most of my charging was done at home.
On dynamic performance alone, the IX would have been worthy enough. But it did so many other interesting things to make it stand out as not just another SUV to fill a perceived gap in a brand's line-up.
The interior design and layout felt like a step change for BMW, having pleasingly retained some buttons for key controls and not gone all digital. The material quality was excellent, and the attention to detail and quality of execution made it feel like a very special car. Very comfy seats, too.
Some colleagues (chiefly Matt Prior and Matt Saunders) hated the Iconic Sounds function, a whirring Hans Zimmer composition that accompanied acceleration, but I enjoyed its novelty and applaud the original thinking. And it could always be turned off.
I also really like the dour car's colour - not a dour monochrome shade, but a luxurious maroon that looked even better with the gold trim. Good on BMW for offering something different. The blue of the iX M60 we ran for a short period while the xDrive50 was having some software problems fixed (the one real black mark against the car, although to be fair to BMW, they were sorted and didn't return) looked even better.
I recently drove the Q8 E-tron, and despite its update, it still wasn't as refined, comfy, efficient, rangy, luxurious or special feeling as the iX for similar money, which goes to show how much BMW got right.
BMW's track record of luxury cars isn't stellar, with the 7 Series, but in going electric here, it seems to have found a new path. If the first luxury BMW from the EV era is this good, imagine what's to come.
I really enjoyed the iX. Size and a kind of inhibiting grandeur usually hold back my appreciation of really big, heavy, luxurious SUVs, but I make a total exception here on grounds of comfort. It excels at every kind (quietness, soft ride, responsiveness and quality materials) and adds a design modernity that moves it a mile ahead from the i4, whose cabin is much like any other BMW’s. It’s a real stake in the ground, this car. I think of it as BMW’s Range Rover.
*Prices: List price new* £94,825 *List price now* £102,755 *Price as tested* £116,965
*Options: *Technology Plus Pack £5000, Comfort Plus Pack £3900, Sky Lounge Pack £3500, Interior Design Suite I Amido £3250, Visibility Pack £2000, Aventurine Red III metallic paint £1890, Clear and Bold Interior Application £1050, bi-colour Aero alloy wheels £1000, Titan Bronze exterior trim £550
*Fuel consumption and range: Claimed range *320 miles *Battery capacity* 111.5/105.2kWh (total/usable) *Test average* 2.9mpkWh *Test best* 3.9mpkWh *Test worst* 2.4mpkWh *Real-world range* 305 miles *Max charge weight *195kW
*Tech highlights: 0-62mph* 4.6sec *Top speed* 124mph *Engine* Two synchronous motors *Max power* 516bhp *Max torque* 564lb ft *Transmission* 1-spd reduction gear *Boot capacity* 500 litres *Wheels* 22in alloy *Tyres* 275/40 R22, Bridgestone Alenza *Kerb weight* 2585kg
*Service and running costs: Contract hire rate* £1193 *CO2* 0g/km *Service costs* None *Other costs* None *Electricity costs* £1096.55 *Running costs inc fuel* £1095.55 *Cost per mile* 12 pence *Faults *Alarm sensor corroded, driver display fault
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*Comfort and refinement* I can’t think of an EV I’d rather have for a big trip. A milestone for EVs’ ability to devour long journeys.
*BMW App *Clever tech allowed me to see the car in situ wherever I had left it, using augmented reality.
*One-pedal driving* Well-judged regen setting allowed for true one-pedal driving. A very easy car to drive, even around town.
*Tech woes *Software glitches necessitated visits back to BMW. A problem across most EVs, it seems.
*Worrying width* I needed the help of every one of the iX’s sensors and cameras for low-speed manoeuvring.
*Final mileage: 10,311*
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*The iX's camera makes reversing a simple task - 5 April*
Manoeuvring the iX is made easier by a camera that gives a top-down view of the car. However, feathering the throttle to inch the car backwards is no mean feat due to its all-or-nothing approach, and one of the active safety systems’ propensities to slam the brakes on when it thinks you’re going to reverse into the wall. Our car needs to chill out a bit.
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-Life with a BMW iX: Month 6-
*10,000 miles on the clock... and few to go... - 22 March*
Something has just happened for the first time since Covid: 10,000 miles has appeared on the odometer of my long-termer. Okay, 1000 or more were on there before it arrived, but I did at least that in the M60 version I swapped into briefly last autumn. Life is truly back to normal, and the iX has largely been an incredibly quiet and comfy pleasure in its time here. Shame it’s going back soon.
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*It's not just range anxiety our editor has been subjected to... - 1 March *
We’ve had range anxiety, then we got charging anxiety (‘will I actually be able to find a charger?’) and now we have charging speed anxiety, too. The cold weather seems to have hit the iX’s ability to take a sustained DC charge in the wild: before it would max out at 190kW, but its best lately has been little more than 110kW, and typically it’s only around 70kW
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-Life with a BMW iX: Month 5-
*An 800-mile continental trip throws new light on the cost of travelling by EV - 22 February*
The iX has been back on the continent, where I racked up just over 800 miles in one week heading all over Belgium on Car of the Year judging duty. The journey allowed me to retrace large chunks of a route I took in the same car back in the summer, where a similar mileage resulted in ‘fuel’ costs of around half those I could have expected in an equivalent X5 diesel. How things change.
My first brief charge was free. The middle of a Tuesday afternoon in early January is a rather good time to travel on the Eurotunnel. There’s a fast charger you can use for free while you wait for your train and I managed a very quick top-up.
My overnight stop was in Bruges, where I planned to get back to 100% from the 15% I arrived with after doing just over 200 miles. (Range anxiety is a non-issue in the iX, even in colder weather at motorway speeds.) In July, the same charger was 40 cents per kWh, yet just six months later it was 75c per kWh. That was for an 11kW overnight charge, not the rapid charge you might expect at that cost. It was this Allego network that I planned to use for my overnight top-ups in Belgium to keep costs down and avoid the high-speed motorway alternatives, but in the end I spent over £100 on these charges from my three nights in the country.
Coming back from Brussels, I knew I’d need one stop to cover the 300-mile journey home. My plan was the Eurotunnel terminal at Calais while I waited for my train, where the Tesla chargers have been opened up for non-Tesla use and some new non-Tesla rapid chargers have been introduced since the summer. I plugged into a Tesla one as I had the app already set up and the new non-Tesla chargers don’t yet take contactless payment, but less than 10 minutes later an error message appeared on the BMW saying the cable had become too hot and it wouldn’t charge any more.
This was a new one on me in any EV, and the error repeated itself on another couple of chargers I tried, indicating a fault with the car rather than the chargers. So I caught the train and charged in the UK instead.
Including a full charge from home before setting off, the trip cost me close to £200 in electricity. The same mileage in a 40mpg diesel would have been £155. Eek.
*Love it *
What a fantastically refined and comfortable way in which to travel such long distances.
*Loathe it *
The sheer randomness and lack of visibility of EV charging costs is exasperating and undermining the EV cause
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*Front seats of the iX aren't ideal for kids - 8 February *
No complaints about the comfort of the iX’s rather snazzy, diamond-stitched sports seats – unless you’re sub-5ft tall, that is. After calling shotgun, daughter Niamh (13) discovered that the hard plastic surround for the faux ‘race harness’ hole is perfectly placed to clonk against her head every time the BMW’s mighty pace is deployed
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*As far as premium electric cars go, is this the best in show? - 1 February *
The need for something large to ferry my wife, two teenagers, two dogs and a bumper crop of Christmas gifts to my parents’ place in Somerset had me knocking on editor Mark Tisshaw’s door to borrow something roomy, and I was thrilled when he chucked me the keys to the BMW iX.
Despite their hefty price tags, I’ve started seeing quite a few of these around and was intrigued to discover if the quirky looks were a way of livening up a mediocre car or a signal of real innovation.
It’s easy to have your head turned by the gimmickry on the iX, and there’s plenty of it: the rose-gold trim, the cut-glass controls, the door-release buttons (rendered pretty pointless by the conventional latches concealed below, in case they fail) and the various driving modes with their comedy choral soundtracks (to be fair, the kids loved those). But it doesn’t need all that, because this is a deeply talented car.
Best of all, it’s a ‘normal’ car – at least in the context of large luxury SUVs. Hugely spacious (particularly in the rear), comfortable, fast and secure, it does everything that you would expect from more traditional rivals but with the convenience of an EV with a battery pack huge enough to give a real-world range to trouble ICE alternatives.
When run right down, it needs a lengthy charge. Even with my home charger running at just under 7.5kWh, it was more than a 12-hour stint to get back to 100%. But once full, it devoured the four-and-a-half-hour, 150-mile congested drive to the West Country with 40% to spare.
With no public chargers out in the sticks, we stuck it on a three-pin trickle overnight, and that was enough to get us home.
That means even in a (very) cold snap, there’s 280-plus miles of range, or well into the 300s as it warms up, making this a serious proposition for motorway miles.
Even better, get away from the main roads, switch to Sport mode and it shrugs off a good proportion of its significant weight to feel surprisingly agile on rural routes, with breathtaking overtaking ability.
That palatial rear bench, combined with a high floor and the monolithic tailgate, means a slightly disappointing boot, and I’m not struck on the fiddly two-piece cover either. But on the plus side, it’s a very practical shape, the raised floor makes it easy to load and the rear seats fold at the touch of a button, revealing a vast load bay (enough for 29 small plastic food crates and three large ones, according to my real-world test).
It’s the most capable and convincing EV I’ve driven yet – which I guess is what you would expect from a car costing in excess of £100k. But perhaps more enticing is what it promises for the future: in a few years’ time, the technology showcased by this car will become universal, and that’s pretty exciting.
*A warm welcome*
It’s worth reducing the range for the superb seat heaters, front and rear, which even warm the armrests to give your elbows a treat.
*A cold front*
I realise I’m far from the first to mention the iX’s challenging looks, but that faux grille gives it a face only a mother could love.
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-Life with a BMW iX: Month 4-
*Voice control continues to disappoint* *- 25 January*
The iX’s infotainment can be controlled by touchscreen, a rotary controller or voice control. I’ve yet to find a voice control system I really get on with and I am still searching for it here. You have to be so precise with your command. Get it wrong and in the time it takes for you to repeat yourself, you’d have been able to do it quicker using the screen or controller anyway.
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*Stages of heating aren't as effective as they could be - 11 January*
Heated seats with different levels of heat (warm, hot, internal organ baker) aren’t new but the iX has three stages of heating for the steering wheel. Its different levels of warmth aren’t so easy to distinguish and it’s probably a feature still best served as an on/off one, yet it’s an example of how tech-laden and feature-rich the iX is, whether the function needed to be added or not.
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*Now our iX is finally fixed, we’re going to keep a watchful eye on it. Here’s how... - 4 January*
The iX xDrive50 is at last back with us. You will recall that no sooner was the alarm fixed than the driver’s display went dark. It turns out there was a fault in the lighting circuit that caused a failure in the screen. There was a bit of a delay in getting the part, but it’s now sorted.
It’s good to have it back. The iX M60 we ran in its place was similar in many ways, but overall I prefer the xDrive50. The steering isn’t as quick, the ride isn’t as firm and the extra power isn’t missed; the more relaxed tune (while it’s still plenty quick enough) better suits the iX’s character. This car majors on quiet, easy, relaxed progress and is at its best when geared up solely for this.
The iX also has a few features that make it an easy and relaxed car to live with even when I’m not behind the wheel, controlled via the My BMW phone app. Apps to run features of a car externally are nothing new, yet the iX introduces something I’ve not seen before. The Remote Cameras function lets me get live snapshots inside and out of where my car is parked. For the outside, it merges an image from all the various cameras used by the driver aids to create a 3D image of the car in its surroundings. I can then scroll a full 360deg around the car to check if it’s as I’ve left it or if anyone has parked too close. I’ve used this several times already.
For the inside, a rear-facing camera near the rear-view mirror takes a single shot of the cabin. This is a bit less useful day to day, but not when merged with the Remote Theft Recorder. When the alarm goes off, it alerts me via the app and photographs the inside of the car.
When the alarm first went off, I used this to check if there had been a break-in. Upon seeing no activity inside, I knew it must have been a fault, but if the worst had happened, it would have been very useful.
The app is also handy for plenty of other features. Now the weather has turned cold, I regularly use the remote heating function to defrost the iX. Not that I’m forgetful, but the ability to see the car’s exact location on a map is also handy. The same goes for being able to check that all the windows are up and the doors are locked, and the ability to keep track of your charges (how long, how much, at what speed etc).
Far from being gimmicky, the My BMW app really enhances the iX ownership experience.
*Love it *
*Colour and trim*
I’m seeing more iXs around but none as nicely specced as ours.
*Loathe it *
Not unexpectedly, our mpkWh is taking a hit in the winter weather. Yet the range still stays above 300 miles, so it’s only a minor grumble.
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-Life with a BMW iX: Month 3-
*More issues for BMW's flagship EV - 30 November*
No word yet on the electrical fault that’s keeping our iX 50 off the road, so we’re still in the more potent M60. One thing they both have in common is a 500-litre boot, rising to 1750 litres with the seats folded flat. Which is what I did to help with a garden clear-out. You won’t see many M60s performing such roles, but it’s more than capable of doing so, and I fitted in more than I expected.
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*Another fault for the EV – but at least we’ve had some positive charging experiences - 23 November *
Good news: I got our iX back after its alarm was fixed. Bad news: it was back with BMW 24 hours later after a new fault was found.
The alarm fault was a strange one. It turns out the sensor for the interior alarm had become corroded after just 5500 miles. It’s mounted behind the nearside rear wheel arch, and it seems water had got in there, corroded it and then triggered the alarm repeatedly. Indeed, the technicians told me that the alarm started going off just minutes after I had dropped it off there as it sat outside the workshop.
That was all replaced, though, so I picked the car back up from BMW UK headquarters in Farnborough, but within a couple of miles of driving down the M3, the driver’s display crashed completely. Not only did it crash, it never came back on again and still didn’t come back on after I turned the car off and again, exited and re-entered a few times or left the car for a few hours.
You can hard reset the system by holding in the volume wheel on the centre console for 30 seconds, but all that did was reset the infotainment. Although it looks like one big screen and is seemingly mounted as one, there are actually two displays, with the infotainment in the middle and the dial display in your eyeline.
This crash took out the head-up display also, meaning there was no speedo or indicated range – crucial things. I had to use the GPS speedo hidden in the corner of the Waze navigation app via Apple CarPlay.
So back home the iX went, where it was hooked up to BMW’s system for the fault to be investigated. More, I hope, next time. I remain for now in another iX, the M60 version I had been getting to know while the alarm fault was fixed.
I’ve been trying out some of the UK’s fast-charging network in it, as I’ve been frequently going farther afield recently, and helping out my colleagues at What Car? as part of their annual EV charging survey in the process. Among the stops I’ve made are at the Gridserve Electric Forecourt in Norwich, which for me remains the blueprint for how a fuel station of the future should operate.
The unit rate of charging has crept up since my last visit, now standing at 66p per kWh – double what I pay to charge at home. But you pay for the speed and convenience (just plug in and tap your credit card), Gridserve’s 350kW chargers capable of hitting the iX’s 190kW charging rate limit and adding 65% battery on my visit there in little over half an hour for little over £40, while I sat above having a Costa.
A few days later, I was at another fast-charging site but with a very different set-up. Readers with excellent memories will recall that I vowed not to use an Ionity charger again having been double-charged in an Audi Q4 E-tron in Belgium, yet it was a case of needs must on a trip to Gatwick airport late one evening when I knew it would be squeaky-bum time on the return leg.
The Ionity hub at Cobham is where I went crawling back on my dark and wet drive down, and when I arrived, all six of the 350kW units were in use. One quickly became available, though, and I connected my car and started the charge through the Ionity phone app. The charging rate never really got above 120kW, yet I got the 68kWh I needed, paying 69p per kWh.
Unlike many chargers, they weren’t tucked out of the way and were well lit, and I felt safe and secure. The fact they were busy was a positive, actually, as it reduced any sense of being isolated and exposed. Charging operators really must consider location and lighting when installing chargers.
I had hoped for another charge as well from a Shell Recharge in Bracknell, but when I got there it wasn’t merely out of order but had been crashed into. Most bizarre but also inconvenient, and enough to make you think twice about going there to charge next time.
*Love it *
*Public charging *
Shell aside, I’ve had two really positive recent experiences. Extra points to Gridserve.
*Loathe it *
Problems and time off the road are mounting up, which isn’t good in any car, let alone a £100,000 one
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*Our iX is still MIA - 9 November*
No update on the alarm issue that’s keeping our xDrive50 off the road, so we remain in the M60. The two iX variants have plenty in common, including that most wondrous thing on the coldest of mornings: heated armrests for the driver. A shame you can’t drive flat-armed on both sides like in a Land Rover, but it’s pleasing nonetheless.
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*There’s no cause for alarm, but an M60 is standing in for our xDrive50 - 2 November*
No sooner had my head hit the pillow, having stayed up a little later than I should, than I shot up again, snapped out of a doze by a car alarm in the driveway shortly before 1am. It was the BMW iX’s.
There was no sign of anyone in the driveway, and a check on the BMW app lets you view an image from inside the car (a very cool and clever bit of kit) at the time the alarm was triggered. Nothing.
A few days later, I was by the coast on a long weekend and the alarm triggered again, at 6.30am. And once more two minutes later. Something was up, confirmed again when it went off that afternoon in another location.
So back it went to BMW HQ, where it is currently being investigated. It’s not a fault they’ve experienced before, and I’ll have more news when they get to the bottom of it. In its place has arrived the courtesy car- and-a-half you see here, the iX M60.
The M60 is not a full-fat M car, more of an M Performance model. Yet it still has some quite extraordinary headline numbers, the power increasing from a combined 516bhp in the 50 to 611bhp in the M60, in part due to the M60 being fitted with an upgraded rear motor.
It gets a chassis makeover too, with higher damper rates, a stiffer rear anti-roll bar and a more precise tune for the steering and air springs, as well as a bodykit and various bits of M trim inside and out. Ours is finished in a lovely Blue Ridge Mountain metallic colour, which actually makes this the most agreeable-looking iX I’ve yet seen.
There doesn’t feel a night-and-day difference between the pair on the road. The M60 feels marginally quicker off the line, and even more so during ‘in-gear’ acceleration. This is one very quick car indeed, not that the 50 was crying out for extra pace. The ride is a bit firmer and the responses are sharper, which combine to make the car feel more natural flowing down a UK B-road at pace.
Efficiency takes a hit, showing around 2.6mpkWh for a real-world range below 300 miles, whereas we’re regularly seeing more than 350 miles on a decent run in the 50. It also comes in a good £17,000 more than the 50 M Sport, which is a lot to pay for even more performance on top of an already high-performance car.
It’s been good to try, but I’ll be happy to see the 50 back. For me, the iX is about comfort and performance rather than performance and razor- sharp handling, so the M60 isn’t the direction I’d have taken the iX in. Still, I’d take the colour and trim (and alarm) of this car with the chassis and drivetrain of the 50,and be very happy indeed.
*Love it *
The Hans Zimmer soundtrack is boomier in the M60, and it suits the car well.
*Loathe it *
*Is it an M?*
The M60 shows what M is up against with EVs. It’s quick, but hardly that sporty.
-*Back to the top*-
-Life with a BMW iX: Month 2-
*After driving an Audi EV to Bruges, our man plots a longer journey in a rangier BMW - 19 October*
Earlier this year, an Audi Q4 E-tron Sportback was my transport for a short break in Bruges, Belgium. The distances involved weren’t massive, but I still started out feeling slightly anxious about taking an electric car on a longer journey onto the Continent, with its unknown infrastructure.
In the end, there was nothing to worry about. I could charge at the Channel Tunnel, en route at fast-charging stations, and at charging posts in Bruges and when we dipped briefly into the Netherlands. If anything, I overcharged. There was no jeopardy.
But all this got me thinking: what about going farther afield? Could the great European road trip be achievable by EV? Cue the BMW iX and another trip down to the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone in early September to see.
From my home to Folkestone is 100 miles on the nose, and we set off with 100% charge and an indicated range nudging 380 miles. The official range is 371 miles, but the displayed figure seems to be based on current and recent performance: drive on the motorway and it will drop; conversely, it will creep up in stop-start urban driving.
Our mid-morning departure meant avoiding rush hour and a leisurely trip down to Kent’s south coast pleasingly devoid of traffic.
There are two ways to charge while you wait for your train: using one of the free fast chargers provided by the Channel Tunnel, or one of the dozen or so Tesla Superchargers that have recently and conveniently been opened up to non-Tesla EV drivers.
I did a bit of both for consumer testing purposes with the best part of an hour to kill before boarding, getting 18kWh from Tesla in 20 minutes at a cost of £10.54 and the remaining 13kWh from the free charger to get me back up to 99%. Those two DC chargers were quick to connect and then to charge, so both were positive experiences.
The size of the iX’s battery and our near-capacity charge meant no more topping up would be needed to cover the 170 miles down to Reims, our overnight stop, so the time we took to replenish the battery ahead of our boarding call for the train proved to be very well spent indeed.
We arrived in Reims nearly three hours after departing Calais, quietly in awe of how quick and easy it is to make progress on French toll motorways. I had intended to drive a bit under the 130kph (81mph) speed limit to try to conserve battery, but then the mental maths kicked in about how much earlier I would arrive and I adjusted the speed of the adaptive cruise control accordingly.
The range took a hit, but a 230-mile cruising range at such a speed (so 2.2mpkWh efficiency, compared with the 3.5mpkWh-plus I typically get pootling around) didn’t seem catastrophic. The iX is a big and heavy tool, after all, with a huge frontal area. If I had been paying the price of diesel instead of electricity, it would have been a different story... Chargers are not yet abundant in Reims, so it’s the kind of city where some prior research comes in handy.
I had made plans A, Band C in case I struggled to find an available charger or encountered any unforeseen issues. Plan A came off, though: a charging post in an off-street car park right near our hotel. It cost ¤5 (£4.40) to park for the best part of 24 hours, and the 78kWh AC charge overnight cost a reasonable ¤22.10 (£19.45) to get us back to 100%.
Our next stop and base for the rest of the week was another 80 miles south in Troyes. After some short day trips and local pottering, we needed another 71kWh of energy to be able to set off with 100% on the way home. Troyes is a bigger city than Reims and has many more charging options, among them a charging post in a free leisure centre car park just a couple of minutes’ walk from the quiet residential area where we stayed.
Again, it was easy enough to connect, although not as easy as it was on my wallet: just ¤12 (£10.55), which was less than 7p per kWh. The energy price crisis had yet to reach this part of the Troyes suburbs.
Now being able to predict the range so precisely at around 230 miles with my 130kph cruising speed meant I could plot a one-stop charging strategy on the 355-mile return drive. The perfect place seemed to be Saint-Quentin, just over halfway to Calais – by which point I would be likely to need a bathroom break, anyway, plus my second coffee of the day. A Tesla Supercharger station is open for all here too, and it charged the iX at close to its 195kW maximum rate.
BMW and Tesla both have phone apps that let you check the charging rate and battery status in real time. The Tesla unit had added nearly 5% before we had even set foot in the large shopping centre outside which it resided and double that again in the time it took me to murder the French language one final time when ordering a cappuccino.
I had worked out that we needed to get to 85% to get us all the way home and have some charge in hand just in case, and it took under 30 minutes to do so. The rapid charge was the priciest yet, at ¤39.44 (£34.69) for 58kWh, but a price I happily paid for the speed and convenience.
My hot chocolate consumed, it was on to Calais, where we arrived in good time and found the Channel Tunnel running so well that we got on an earlier train.
Back on the other side and with just over 100 miles left, thanks to a small detour en route, my maths thankfully proved correct and we arrived home with 8% charge, never having experienced any range anxiety.
During the whole trip, we never experienced any charging anxiety, either. Sure, not every EV trip will be as successful as this one or have as many chargers immediately available in ‘plan A’ locations. But as ever with electric cars, prep in advance and have a back-up plan ready, and they really can conquer even the longest journeys.
The total cost of charging, including a 100% charge (£23.10) at home beforehand, was £98.33, and efficiency 2.48mpkWh. A BMW X5 covering the same 850 miles would cost about £188 in diesel at 40mpg for comparison. That’s some saving.
Just as intriguing was the amount of time we spent charging. One of the sticks used to beat electric cars is how you will have to constantly stop and charge and add loads of time to your journey. As this trip proved, that’s not true.
I could charge in the dead time waiting for my Channel Tunnel train to leave Folkestone, then I could charge overnight and then, on my return to Calais, I would want a 30-minute break in a 250-mile, four- and-a-half-hour journey anyway, which is where fast charging comes in. Let’s call that a 10-minute refuel stop if you really do want to get a move on in a non-EV and you would save only 20 minutes over the whole 350-mile return leg.
A successful trip, then, and at the heart of it all was an electric car that I’m appreciating more and more by the day. It was quiet, comfortable and spacious – all essential qualities for such a journey. I don’t ever recall feeling so fresh after such long stints at the wheel, either. Further testament to the iX’s soothing powers.
As with all the best trips, I returned home wanting more. Thankfully, a large part of what made the journey enjoyable is going nowhere soon.
*Active cruise control*
The iX has among the better ones I’ve experienced, backing off from trouble ahead in plenty of time and leaving its foot in when needed.
*Shades of grey*
BMW’s grey cable blends into the paving next to chargers, making it a trip hazard. I used my hi-vis jacket to be a good citizen and highlight it.
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*A short off-road stint showed the iX's class - 12 October*
I took the iX down to the Goodwood Revival recently, where I was shown to a dark corner of the car park, a postcode or four from the classics by the entrance. Despite me arriving in the Antichrist, they let me into the event at least, and the drive over the Downs showed off the iX’s surprising grip and handling flair for the first time. And it didn’t break down...
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*The already-brilliant iDrive is significantly improved - 5 October*
BMW’s iDrive system has long been a benchmark, and the eighth iteration introduced in the iX is another leap forward. The graphics are clear and crisp, the menus easy to navigate and key functions always to hand. Plus, press the Nav button and, if your phone is connected, you get taken to its sat-nav app rather than BMW’s system, which is a boon.
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-Life with a BMW iX: Month 1-
*EVs are all the same, eh? Clearly you’ve not tried this one, then - 28 September*
One of the major concerns that car lovers like us have about electric cars is how they can be given their own distinctive personalities. Aren’t they all just going to be differently styled yet ultimately characterless white goods when they share common electric motors and battery packs that don’t allow for bespoke tuning in the way that a good old combustion engine does?
For a lot of early electric cars, and even plenty on sale today, that might be true. Yet increasingly now we’re seeing those that offer plenty of character of their own – something the BMW iX takes even further by creating a driving experience that doesn’t try to mimic that of an ICE car in any way.
I touched on the unique noise (or rather the Hans Zimmer- composed score) that it makes under acceleration in my opening report, and even a few weeks in, the novelty of this hasn’t worn off.
It’s something that passengers instantly pick up on, too, egging me on up slip roads or away from traffic lights so they can hear it again. The best description of it so far has been a comparison to the noise that a sliding door to a sci-fi villain’s lair might make when opening or closing.
I’ve already taken the iX on some big journeys, including a late-summer excursion a good few hundred miles into France (full report on that next month) and have found it to be the most comfortable, calming and relaxing car that I’ve driven in recent memory.
There are no quirks to it: it gets everything bang on, from the seat padding and positioning to just how super-smooth and quiet it is at speed, with a comfortable ride to boot. Electric cars are a refined species anyway, but it’s taken to the next level by the iX.
I made the Range Rover comparison last time, and that car has got to be as quiet and refined as it has ever been after five decades of development. The iX is BMW’s first attempt at an electric luxury SUV, and it’s this good already. What a tantalising prospect of just how much better again electric cars can get in this field with a similar time frame of development.
The data also suggests that this is a car dispelling the ‘all electric motors and batteries are the same’ myth and showing just what they can do for performance and efficiency with a decade or more of development behind them. The iX uses a pair of BMW’s fifth-generation motors, and I’ve been staggered by just how efficient it has been, even with 516bhp on tap.
I ran the Honda E city car a couple of years back and would get close to four miles per kWh on a warm day and three miles per kWh on a cold one, and I’ve used that as good barometer since to account for journeys with higher average speeds.
The iX gets close to those figures despite weighing around half as much again and having about four times the power, showing just how efficient BMW has made it without compromising on performance.
The development of electric cars continues apace, then, and the iX is at the forefront of it.
*Love it *
I do like the burgundy and gold. It doesn’t solve the grille issue, but it certainly looks smarter than some iX specifications.
There are almost too many cameras and sensors, particularly when I’m reversing into a space. It makes me a bit jumpy.
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*Our editor is impressed by the iX's efficiency - 14 September *
I’ve been very impressed with just how efficient the iX is. We’re still learning which mpkWh figures are good (this being the EV equivalent of MPG), but anything below three isn’t great and anything above four is excellent. The iX is averaging about 3.5 – no mean feat for something that weighs 2510kg and testament to BMW’s long-term development of electric motors and batteries.
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*Welcoming the BMW iX to the fleet - 8 September 2022*
The visual statement and ensuing debate over the styling of the iX has somewhat overshadowed the countless other far greater and more significant statements that are being made by BMW’s new flagship.
They include, among others, the sheer amount of technology this car packs in, plenty of it breathtaking and truly innovative, and much of it so cool that if Apple had launched it, we’d be hearing about it for years.
Then there’s the positioning of the car, and how successfully BMW has managed to pull it off. The firm has long dabbled in the luxury space with the likes of the 7 Series, 8 Series and more lately the X7, but never with overt success. Yet the iX feels so quiet, refined, powerful, comfortable and high-quality that you’d happily line one up against a Range Rover.
It may still lose, but it would not be a foregone conclusion – and that’s something against the standout luxury SUV of the past 50 years.
There are those, though, who will never get past the looks, in particular that grille, and that’s fine. It’s not for my eyes, truth be told, but you can get it blacked out, and in certain colour and trim specifications it doesn’t stand out as much as some of the photos suggest. It’s not just any old grille, either: it houses many of the car’s sensor and safety cameras and is coated in material that self-heals should it get chipped or scratched. That aside, let’s call it somewhere between bold and divisive and get on with enjoying the car’s other qualities, of which there are many.
You could call the iX a distant successor to the i3. It is only BMW’s second dedicated fully electric car, arriving at the same time as that small EV icon sadly departs. Both are built around ‘carbon cage’ core structures and have light, airy cabins full of interesting and innovative materials, but given that the iX is five metres long and starts at close to £80,000, the similarities soon end.
Three versions of the iX are offered. Bookending the range are the xDrive40 with a 71kWh battery good for a claimed 257-mile range, and an M60 with a 105kWh battery that’ll get you a claimed 348 miles between charges. In the middle is the xDrive50 we have here, which uses the bigger battery from the M60 but gets an extra 23 miles of range as it does without the extra power and performance of the top-end model.
The xDrive50 uses twin electric motors for a combined 516bhp and all-wheel drive. That’s a lot of power but it’s needed for a car weighing more than two and a half tonnes – a figure that would be higher were it not for that carbonfibre core. Put your foot down and you’ll be under no illusions: this is no normal big-range EV, if you hadn’t realised that already.
The iX is a car that’s determined to do things differently and really deviate from the internal combustion era. That first of all manifests itself in the spaceship-style noise it makes under acceleration, a soundtrack created by none other than movie composer Hans Zimmer (think Top Gun: Maverick, Gladiator and, er, Kung Fu Panda).
The volume and intensity of the sound are all relative to your use of the right pedal. That shouldn’t be a revelation because that’s essentially how driving a combustion-engined car works, but nobody has yet done something this different and this successfully. It sounds like doors opening in a sci-fi film, and it’s good fun. I’m glad BMW made it this way.
Before you drive the iX, you will already have marvelled at the cabin. It mixes high-quality materials that are easy on the eye and lovely to touch with technology that’s undoubtedly in-your-face yet still sympathetically integrated. Better yet, it is also for a large part controlled by some actual buttons and a click wheel. Such common sense will never catch on...
There’s so much to explore in the iX, and that’s before you get to the £22,140 of options our M Sport-trim test car is fitted with. The likes of the £3500 Sky Lounge Pack (next-level cool panoramic roof) and £5000 Technology Plus Pack (plenty of clever cameras here) are all things we’ll come back to.
For now, I’ll doff my cap to the lovely £1890 Aventurine Red III and £550 Titan Bronze trim of our car, a lovely combination that’s refreshingly not monochrome, and get settled into that oh-so comfy Sport Seat (part of the £3900 Comfort Plus Pack), from where you can enjoy the most soothing and calming of rides.
Refreshing is a word I think we’ll keep coming back to. As a ground-up electric car, no assumptions have been made in the way it has been designed, engineered and created, and neither does it feel like one of those electric cars in which an internal combustion engine has simply been swapped out for some electric motors and a battery.
A different approach has been taken across the board, and the result is a car that already feels like one that will remain not only a benchmark for how to approach the development of electric cars but also one with plenty of ‘firsts’ to which we’ll refer back to for years to come. Rarely has a long- term loan felt like such an adventure.
I liked the informality of the iX when we road-tested one earlier this year. You may not think it’s beautiful, but there’s something disarming about the design that adds character and diffuses the stuffy grandiosity that can pervade with big luxury cars. Spend some time with it and you’ll realise that this car is really likeable, and it somehow feels inclusive and informal. It’s also so damned good at being quiet, supple, relaxing everyday transport.
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-BMW iX xDrive50 M Sport specification-
*Specs: Price New* £94,825 *Price as tested* £116,965 *Options T*echnology Plus Pack £5000, Comfort Plus Pack £3900, Sky Lounge Pack £3500, Interior Design Suite I Amido £3250, Visibility Pack £2000, Aventurine Red III metallic paint £1890, Clear and Bold Interior Application £1050, bi-colour Aero alloy wheels £1000, Titan Bronze exterior trim £550
*Test Data: Engine* Twin electric motors *Power *516bhp *Torque* 564lb ft *Kerb weight* 2585kg *Top speed* 124mph *0-62mph* 4.6sec *Claimed range *320 miles* Economy *3.4mpkWh *Faults* None *Expenses* None
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