iX xDrive50 M Sport
The BMW iX isn't the ultimate driving machine, but the ultimate 'sitting in traffic' machine
It was about half-way round the M25 – rarely the scene of many epiphanies, it must be said – when I decided that the BMW iX was officially ‘The Future’. There is arguably no more comfortable, efficient and thought-provoking car than this currently on sale. At a steady motorway lope, not that you can regularly manage that on the M25 with its pockets of strangulation and the interference of the antithetically named ‘Smart’ gantries, it’s so refined that it’s almost possible to achieve transcendence. It makes the torture of that road, and its ilk, tolerable. And any car that can enliven your mood when you’re struggling along clearly has something going for it. There you have it: rather than the ultimate driving machine, BMW has created the ultimate sitting-in-a-traffic-jam machine.
Some other observations. This is an electric car whose software algorithms calculate its range accurately rather than basing them on pie in the sky being passed by flying pigs. Fully charged, the best I’ve seen is 350 miles, which drops to 250 if you do 100 miles driving, assuming you’re not travelling at warp speed, and maintains a believable trajectory. My esteemed colleague creative director Andy Franklin borrowed the iX for a few weeks and struck out for the wilds of South Wales from his Lincolnshire base. He says he saw 390 miles on the range-ometer, and only had to stop once to recharge. Now I obviously have to beat that, which breaks out the mindfulness to go with the transcendence. Who drives an EV like their trousers are aflame? Not me; it’s all about hyper-miling. BMW says that the iX’s battery is 40 per cent more efficient than the one in the i3, and it definitely feels like a major step forward in real world conditions.
While Andy was in it (enforcing the no-crisps ban on his kids that I demanded… have you seen the iX’s seats?), I borrowed his Citroen e-Berlingo. This is another of those Stellantis EVs (see also the Peugeot e-2008 and Vauxhall Mokka-e) whose immense character and ability is undone by the 50kWh battery’s inability to deliver the claimed range: 182 miles in this instance. As superbly versatile as you’d expect a van-based vehicle to be, it helped relocate my daughter at the end of her first year at university. She’s at UEA in Norwich, 85 miles away from our near-Stansted base, a round trip it couldn’t do on a single charge.
It’s also surprisingly big, though obviously not as inflated as the iX. I look forward to the first production EV roadster, preferably one that doesn’t weigh 250 tonnes. In between these two EVs, I drove Alpine’s A110 GT to Silverstone for the British GP, and once again was blown away by how elegantly a car moves when it’s unencumbered by mass. And how efficient it is: it’ll do 40mpg. One of those alongside the iX might be the new dream garage.