The BMW IX is BMW's latest flagship EV, and takes the form of a large electric SUV, or Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) in BMW-speak, that features a single speed electric motor pushing out 322 bhp, 630 Nm of torque, and will perform the century sprint in 6.1 seconds with a range of 425km. Featuring a boxy but futuristic exterior design that looks strong and robust, the interior is arguably more stylish, with the new OS8 infotainment unit presenting itself in the form of a lovely curved screen that stretches from the centre of the dashboard over to the driver's instrument cluster, where the new squarish and modern steering wheel can also be found. The car also features the new BMW floating centre console, which in the xDrive40, also features wooden console buttons. Space all around from the front seats to the rear seats is spacious, with a completely flat floor in the rear which will accommodate 3 adults quite comfortably.
Approaching the IX for the first time, there is an immediate sense that the IX is a different animal, and stands out from the rest of the existing BMW stable as something that feels extremely futuristic and avant garde - after all, this is BMW’s latest flagship EV, and along with its commitment to the future of electric cars, the BMW IX currently serves as a sort of styling benchmark for future BMWs to come. The styling language is quite minimalist and avant garde, combining crisp and neat lines with sharp and distinctive features - features such as BMW’s new trend of enlarged kidney grilles, minimalist interior, and matt effect light finishes. Specifically on the IX, I particularly like the way the car transitions from its c-pillars down into its rear wheel arches, giving the car an attractive looking set of hips. Oddly though, the boxy and elongated frame of the IX somehow reminds me more of an MPV than the Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) that BMW intended for it to be - It’s not a bad thing in our books, as we do appreciate the occasional high end MPV (and also because we are very sad that there isn’t a new 2 Series Gran Tourer - which we love very much).
Climbing into the cabin, there is even greater articulation that BMW has built the IX for the future, as the cabin is wonderfully appointed with a completely fresh and new design that does not look anything like the current BMWs that we are familiar with. Interestingly, the car’s interior feels most similar to the BMW i3, which was one of the first EVs introduced by BMW more than 8 years ago, and still feels extremely relevant today.
One of the things that immediately catches your eye is the new floating centre console, which features a crystal iDrive control wheel nestled within a beautiful wooden control interface which also houses most of the buttons you’d normally find on a centre console. Cup holders and a wireless charger are housed neatly in a lower section of the centre console which aids organisation but can be a little hard to reach the cup holders while you are driving. Other nifty features include a phone holder that sits your phone up at a nice angle for viewing, Overall, this is a nicely designed portion of the car, and feels extremely premium and expensive, allowing the rest of the centre console which is separated and part of the dashboard to maintain an ultra premium, minimalist feel. The fact that the centre console is split at the floor, does somewhat add to the feel that you are in an MPV instead of an SAV, as commonly seen in full size MPVs. Personally, I quite enjoy the extra legroom, though others may feel that this detracts from the driver-focussed personas of previous BMWs.
The premium and minimalist theme continues throughout the rest of the cabin, with the usual black plastics in the car replaced by a lovely copper/rose gold trim that really elevates the ambience of the vehicle. Similar to the idrive control wheel on the centre console, the seat adjustment controls on the door are also made in the same crystal effect. Instead of traditional door handles, BMW have taken a step into the future - and you now open the door using a button located near your seat adjustment controls. I’d say this is a pretty cool feature, and also rather entertaining to witness your first time passengers’ futile efforts to find the door handle. And after they actually find it - mild forms of amazement typically ensue. Not to worry though, BMW has kindly included an actual physical door catch that is neatly hidden out of sight, and will do the same job as the fancy door opening button.
OS8 makes it debut in the IX, and the huge curved screens are beautiful, and dominate the dashboard. For all intents and purposes, this is a cool piece of hardware and is impressive to look at - however, I’d have preferred slightly softer edges as from certain angles, the material use can look a little utilitarian. Having gotten used to OS7 over the past few years, I found it difficult to instantly get used to the aesthetics of OS8, mainly due to the widget styled icons on the touchscreen, giving me plenty of Android vibes - of which I am personally not a fan. If unlike me, you are an android user, this aesthetic is likely to sit a little bit better with you. If I were to be honest, I’d say that the interface on OS7 looks a lot more premium than OS8 - although it sure does look futuristic.
Performance wise, the IX is quick for a car that weighs 2.4 tonnes, clocking 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds, which is remarkable if you consider that the car only packs 322 bhp, but produces 630 Nm of torque. To put context to the figures here, the IX punches off the line as quickly as the next performance EV, before torque and power taper off around the 80km/h to 100km/h mark. While it's easy to look at this and say "Hey, that's not very quick", I think the power setup in the IX is appropriate for a family car, and highly relevant for urban usage. In Singapore especially, we need power off the line, but we don't require a massive top speed - which makes the BMW EV setup a little more applicable than say the Audi EV setup which seems to favour power over range. More importantly, as a family friendly car, the IX's power isn't dangerously fast, meaning that the weekend drivers in your family won't be overwhelmed by the directness of an EV drivetrain. What this power configuration also does, is that more of the 76.6kWh battery can be dedicated towards range rather than performance, ensuring that the IX still maintains respectable range figures of up to 400km on a single charge.
Passengers will also find it easy to fall in love with the IX, as rear legroom is superb, with a completely flat floor that makes carrying 3 at the back less of a compromise than with other 5 seater SUVs on the market. Headroom is also excellent, thanks to an electromagnetic moonroof that does not require a space consuming physical roller blind to shield you from the sun. Rear seats are just as lovely and plush as the ones in front, and are deep enough to offer plenty of under-thigh support, resulting in a very comfortable ride.
Ride quality is superb and is even more remarkable considering BMW have achieved this without the use of adaptive air suspension - a fact that I particularly enjoy, because it represents one less expensive wear and tear component that consumers won't have to worry about. Sure, it isn't quite as comfortable as the Audi e-Tron S Sportback with adaptive air suspension, but the difference is marginal, and the IX will cost you quite a lot less to put on the road.
Overall, as BMW's flagship EV, I'd say that the IX is off to a good start, and its emphasis on premium materials, a clean looking cabin, and a sensible application of electric power are very promising pillars to work off going into the future. Where it sits in terms of price point against its competitors is also worth noting. While it is still a very expensive car to buy, it does provide its buyer with an impressive first class interior that will rival competitors that are even more expensive. Combining its futuristic looks with its magnificent interior, the BMW IX will definitely impress, both from the outside and inside - making it a very compelling purchase if you are shopping in that price bracket (or even in the one above).