BMW iX xDrive40 first drive

BMW’s next generation of electric vehicles is effectively brought into the now with the iX. Large, striking, and with a long range, the iX is the antithesis of BMW’s first generation EV - the i3. But surprisingly it shares plenty of similar themes. We have a first drive in the new BMW iX xDrive40 Sport.

Review by Chris Lilly

BMW IX XDRIVE40: PERFORMANCE

The iX range is made up of two specifications currently, the xDrive40 and xDrive50 - though a high performance M60 model is due in the future. Tested is the lower-power model, but it still packs a combined 240 kW (326 hp) from its twin electric motors, powering both axles for all-wheel drive. The xDrive50 features 385 kW (523 hp). The iX xDrive40 will complete the 0-62mph time in 6.1 seconds and can go onto a top speed of 124mph.

Performance feels brisk on the road, and the BMW sits comfortably at motorway speeds, feeling like a natural cruiser over one distances. The response is good in this xDrive40 model, but you can feel the iX’s weight impacting performance. In a lighter car, this amount of power would feel plentiful. In the xDrive40, it feels ample. I suspect the xDrive50 may well remove this particular comment.

HANDLING

The i3 is a brilliant little car to drive; agile, responsive, and sharp. The iX is none of these things, but then this large SUV is not supposed to be anything like the little i3. Instead, the iX is much more of a long distance machine, settling down at pace for a refined and comfortable ride.

It’s no large Mercedes for outright refinement, but the iX does feel exactly what it is - a large BMW. And that means it’s exceptionally good. The weight in the centre of the car and placed low down means it has a sure-footedness that is hard to match, and the suspension does a good job of keeping body roll in check while maintaining suppleness. Around tight urban roads, the iX feels large, but it gets about junctions easily, and it even does a good job of putting a smile on your face on a country road. It may not be its natural habitat, but it still succeeds.

BODY STYLE

In the intro, I used the word “striking” to describe the BMW iX. It is certainly that, and it’s perhaps a flattering way to term the latest BMW design trend. I’m not a fan, but then again, if this model is the attention-grabbing vanguard, perhaps future models will be better received. Likewise, BMW models in recent history have a habit of ageing very well.

Inside, the dimensions translate to a spacious interior for four adults, though the boot space isn’t the largest around. It will accommodate a fair amount of luggage, but it’s not the cavernous boot you might expect before you lift the tailgate. Further forward however, the occupant space is very good, both in the front and rear seats, considering head, leg, and shoulder room.

COMFORT & CONTROLS

BMW iX xdrive40 first drive interior

The strongest link between the i3 and iX is the cabin, with the latter getting closer to the i3’s ground-breaking “lounge” style interior than anything else in the intervening years. Most of the time that “lounge” adjective used by manufacturers doesn’t translate to production models, but it’s easy to argue the iX meets expectations. A large screen featuring BMW’s latest operating system looks good and works well.

Controls are nicely set out on the centre console, and can be specified with glass switches or wood inlay, while the seats are very comfortable. The steering wheel is not a good piece of design in my view, with rounded hexagonal shape meaning that the thumb divots are sitting at 3 and 9 on the clock face. This in turn means your palms are slightly turned upwards when gipping the wheel, which could get uncomfortable over longer periods of time. No doubt drivers will adjust to get around the problem, but a round wheel would have no such requirements. Other than that, it’s a top class interior.

BMW IX XDRIVE40: RANGE & RUNNING COSTS

Driving range is a real strong point for the iX line-up, with the xDrive50 model capable of covering up to 380 miles on a charge. The xDrive40 has a smaller capacity battery, but will still manage a significant 257 miles before needn’t to be recharged, according to official WLTP figures.

In the real-world, there wasn’t enough time to thoroughly try out the test car’s range, but it performed well during the test route. Over a mixture of different roads and routes, the iX xDrive40 was achieving 3.1 miles per kWh, which equates to a range of 220 miles on a charge. Considering this was in mid-December, I’d expect a range of closer to 230/240 miles in most conditions.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

The iX xDrive40’s 71 kWh net battery (76.6 kWh gross) allows for the good driving range, and can be recharged at up to 150 kW DC for this battery size - the xDrive50 models can recharge at up to 195 kW DC. This means that recharging times allow for a 10-80% recharge in around 35 minutes. AC charging is possible at up to 11 kW, which puts a full recharge at around 8 hours where available.

There are three different levels of brake energy recuperation, with the lowest practically coasting, the mid-level a reasonable balance between the two, and the highest strength allowing for one-pedal driving most of the time. There’s also an auto setting which uses radar and the navigation system to determine regen strength by itself.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

There are two trim levels available for the iX xDrive40 - Sport and M Sport. Fitted as standard are reversing camera and assistant, active cruise control with stop and go, and steering assist, 21-inch alloys, and BMW Live Cockpit Professional which included a digital instrument cluster, widescreen infotainment system with navigation and smartphone connectivity.

Also fitted as standard are climate comfort windscreen, four-zone air conditioning, wireless phone charging, heated front seats, and Shadow Line exterior trim details.

BMW IX XDRIVE40: MODEL SUMMARY

The BMW iX is not going to win many customers over on looks alone. However, with a long driving range, good levels of space, a beautiful cabin, and fast recharging speeds, the large SUV is going to be bought in big numbers. It’s not a directly EV version of the ever-popular X5, but it ie essentially so. The comfortable EV SUV is not BMW’s best-electric model, but it is a good one nonetheless.

BMW iX xdrive40 first drive rear

Model tested: BMW iX xDrive40 Sport
Body-style: Large SUV
Engine / CO2: Twin electric motors / 0 g/km
Trim grades: Sport and M Sport

On-road price: From £69,905.
Warranty: Three years / unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:4th Apr 2022

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