iX xDrive50 M Sport
BMW iX long-term review: "an idiosyncratic masterpiece"
BMW CEO Oliver Zipse recently told me that "there is no such thing as a future-oriented design without controversy. We want to spark discussion about what we’re doing". You get used to the iX’s looks, no question, and I like seeing this car cut a swathe through a sea of grey conformity on the M25. Just choose the spec carefully; brighter colours work better, oddly enough.
That’s the subjective bit. Objectively, there’s no question that the xDrive 50’s 105.2 kWh battery pretty much erases range anxiety. The best I saw on a full charge, in the height of 2022’s sticky summer, was 360 miles, although that’s dropped to 288 now it’s cold. Unlike some, BMW’s range calculation doesn’t involve pie in the sky, and it’ll do what it says. It’s also impressively efficient for a big machine: I averaged between 2.9 and 3.2 kWh per mile, pretty much bang on BMW’s claims. On my 7kW home charger, it took 14 or 15 hours to replenish, depending on the state-of-charge. It’s about 50 minutes on a 100kW rapid charger, but I did almost all my charging domestically.
Clearly, that’s not as affordable as it once was, and you need to factor in tariffs and time of day. With the price cap at £0.52p per kWh, we’re talking roughly £52.00, still approximately half what it costs to fill up a similarly potent car with fuel. As I write, Gridserve wants 66p/kWh for its fastest charger, or around £70.00 for a full charge on the iX.
BMW has also nailed the HMI, and even having the climate control on a touchscreen – usually a baleful solution – is tolerable here. The switchgear on the odd-shaped steering wheel is fiddly, though, and the profusion of sensors can make reversing more stressful than it ought to be. The iX can park itself; maybe it resents being denied the opportunity. There’s surely no debate about the cockpit’s configuration: with that elegant curve screen and the fantastic seats, there’s no better car interior available. The frameless glass kinda irritated me, especially with my son’s habit of slamming the passenger door shut (he never grasped the soft-close concept). And you may want to hold off on the crystal switchgear, one example from the extensive and expensive options/configurator list.
On which point, no-one I showed the car to could get their head around its £116k cost (with options), although the thing is selling extremely well in all the key markets. I’m aware that some people think we live in fantasy land on TG, and £17k worth of options is a big ask (more, in fact, than I recently paid for a year-old Dacia Duster. Let that sink in).
But let’s keep it in context. This is a top-flight consumer good. Alongside the new i7, it’s clear BMW’s electric game is strong – the strongest of all the established players, in fact. It also shows how rapidly things are improving, from the thermal efficiency of the batteries to the harmonisation of the hard- and software. The i7 is heavier than the iX but handles more adroitly, too. I rarely pushed it, preferring to sit back and literally enjoy the ride. Luxury cars are meant to cosset and repel the real world, and even against the likes of the Mercedes EQS and new Range Rover, the iX does this better – and more intriguingly – than anything else out there. It’s an idiosyncratic masterpiece.