‘How it is possible with 2500 kg, really impressive’
BMW’s electric journey is one of trial and error. The BMW i3, intended as an EV from the first stroke of the pen, marks the enthusiastic and energetic beginning. Real success was not to come until the brand started equipping current models with an electric drivetrain. The iX is an outsider in the range. After all, the large SUV-like car is only available with an electric motor and battery pack. How does that work out? Users provide the answer.
We previously read that users of a BMW i4, derived from the 4 Series Gran Coupé, are quite enthusiastic about their car. The traditional approach to the EV subject is therefore going well for BMW and seen in that light, the iX is an unexpected car. It is not as unique as the i3, because it uses an existing BMW platform, but you will never find a traditional engine in this car.
The body shape is also special, because is the BMW iX an SUV or an MPV? And then we haven’t even talked about the grille made of self-healing plastic. Well, let’s quickly talk about the technology. The entry-level, the iX xDrive 40, has a net 71 kWh battery and delivers 326 hp to all four wheels. The xDrive 50 goes a step further with a net 105.2 kWh battery capacity and 523 hp. Not enough yet? With 619 hp, the iX M60 places an even greater burden on the battery pack.
Space and seating comfort
We already asked the question: is it an SUV or an MPV? Riders know it. “The children love the space in the back. That is also almost limo level,” writes a driver about his iX xDrive 40. “They also have their own seat heating and USB ports. They are the kings of the world.” Another xDrive 40 driver agrees. “It’s a really big car inside,” he writes. With the exception of one part: “The trunk is large enough at 500+ liters, but not overly spacious for such a large car. This could have been thought of more cleverly with, for example, a frunk. It remains strange that there is a gigantic hood that you cannot do anything with.” An opinion that many other drivers share, such as this xDrive 50 driver. “The trunk space is okay at 500 liters, but my previous car, an .” Very few MPV features.
A lot is also written about the chairs, and not in all cases positively. “The seats are a bit short,” reports an xDrive 40 driver. “A lot has been written about this. I am 1.86 meters and 90 kilos and it was fine for me, but they are really ‘armchairs’ that you sit on. Personally, the chair could be lower and with a seat extender.” Yet in practice it is not so bad. “The longest ride I made with it was about four to five hours and that was no problem at all,” this rider concludes. Someone else experiences something similar. “At first I had some doubts about the chairs. I was used to the sports seats and in the iX you cannot extend the seat and you have less support. However, in practice they fit well and the chair massage works well, so that doubt was not justified.”
The next xDrive 40 driver seems to have prepared himself for this section. “Others also wrote that the seats of the chairs look short, but appearances can be deceiving; With my height of 1.93 meters, I experience the seats as super comfortable during the long drive to Italy and I have no problems whatsoever after more than ten hours of steering. The seats are a bit softer than the good sports seats from the iX3, but also a lot more comfortable.”
Infotainment and controls
For the infotainment, BMW came up with a large screen and an interface that you can operate in multiple ways. “That works quickly and because you can use touch, the iDrive controller or speech, there is always a way that suits you,” says the driver of an iX xDrive 40. That sounds ideal, but one complaint is remarkably common. “What is really a dragon of functionality in software version 8.5 is the voice control,” complains the driver of a 2023 iX. “Apart from calling someone from your address book, you cannot do much. Okay, in all honesty: you can activate or deactivate your seat or steering wheel heating with the command ‘Hello BMW’, but something as simple as entering an address is not possible.”
An xDrive 50 driver even turned it off. “I have put the Personal Assistant (voice control) on hold for the time being, because she intervened at times and misunderstood me. That actually worked much better in the X5.” The next driver does not have this good experience. “What I do find a minor drawback is the voice control. I already found that with my returned BMW and also with this one. I expected this to be further developed in 2021.”
He also criticizes the rest of the interface. “The minimal presence of buttons has gone awry in my opinion. After some getting used to, I can now handle the controls well, but I think some buttons for seat and steering wheel heating could be reduced.” An xDrive 50 driver goes one step further. “The transition is major, both from Mercedes-Benz to BMW and from diesel to full electric, as well as to the overwhelming technology. The instruction and guidance you receive is mediocre, despite the goodwill of the very careful seller.” It appears that the knowledge of the dealer(s?) is insufficient. This occasionally causes stress for this user. That is a negative.” An old man – we don’t say that, he says that himself – has no problem with it. “All the whining about the no longer ‘physical buttons’ and the number of ‘apps’. I have set all the buttons that you should not operate while driving and I hardly have to touch them anymore.”
Driving the iX
So far, experiences have been mixed, but that will change if we focus on the driving experience. “I have never driven an SUV that steers so tightly,” exclaims an xDrive 40 driver. “How it is possible with 2,500 kilos, really impressive.” He adds: “Very quiet and comfortable car, despite 22 inches and no air suspension.” An xDrive 50 owner does have air suspension. “Imperfections in the road surface are filtered out incredibly well,” he writes. And there is more. “In my experience, it really drives like a BMW; very pleasant on highways, secondary roads, straight ahead and in curves. I don’t really feel the high weight, but I also have a rather calm driving style. Four-wheel steering will also make a positive contribution to this.” The car is also used for foreign trips. “Just returned from our annual family trip to the French snow and you fully realize the absolute comfort of the iX: the stability on the road (undisturbed in rain and wind) and the silence, peace and space in the car.”
Other drivers also speak highly of the silence in their BMW. “The car is very quiet, wind noise is virtually absent. However, you can hear the ambient noise a little better, for example in a tunnel,” another rider experiences. “I’ve never driven such a quiet car before.” His analysis of the chassis: “Despite the coil springs, the driving comfort in the car is very high, fast bends go well, but there is some noticeable swell with bumps. The adaptive dampers of the iX3 did this better and the car seemed a bit tighter. Due to the shorter wheelbase, the iX3 was a bit bumpier. Now there is more peace and quiet in the car. Here too, the comfort is at a very high level!” And not just at low speeds. “Even at 200 km/h, the car is rock solid and zooms along the road very quietly and comfortably.”
An iX M60 driver chose the top model for a reason, and that reason is not the exorbitant power. “Actually, the IX you want is an iX 45,” he writes, “but it doesn’t exist (yet). An IX with a battery of approximately 95 kWh and approximately 400 hp. If it had been there, I would have ordered it, because I don’t need 619 hp in an SUV.” No, the reason is of a different nature. “Air suspension – which was previously standard – is no longer available on the iX 50 and – even more importantly for me – the rear axle steering is also no longer available on the iX 50. Both things are standard on the iX M60. Especially the steering rear axle is a must for me on a large car like the IX.” We could devote an entire article to the driving range, part of the iX experience. We will do that soon.
Maintenance, malfunctions and irritations
From previous articles about e-BMWs we already concluded that the cars are quite reliable. This also seems to apply to the iX in general. However, nothing is completely flawless, so iX drivers also experience something every now and then. With an xDrive 50, an over-the-air update did not go well, which led to malfunctions in the emergency call system, communication and navigation. “In the meantime, everything has been neatly resolved,” says the driver. “The car was in service at BMW for a few hours, where they had to disconnect a certain module (hidden in the headliner apparently) and then also had to reinstall or update the software.”
Another rider also had to deal with a software problem. “Last week, after a short drive, the right screen was completely black. The buttons to change the layout of the dashboard also no longer worked.” How this is resolved? “You have been able to reset an iDrive for many years now. In the iX you do this by pressing and holding the volume button for at least 30 seconds. Unfortunately, even this didn’t work and calling the diagnostic mode didn’t work either.” What did work: “Lock the car and wait until it fell asleep. Then all systems started up again and everything worked properly again.”
Regardless of these findings, drivers are quite enthusiastic about their electric SUV. SUV, yes, because in terms of space and flexibility it is certainly not an MPV. The trunk is considered small considering the exterior dimensions and drivers are surprised at the lack of a ‘frunk’. They are just as surprised by the poorly functioning voice control of the infotainment. On the other hand, drivers really appreciate both the driving characteristics and the comfort, including the silence on board.
Later we will come back to the range in practice in a separate article.
– Thanks for information from Autoweek.nl