BMW has revealed its first all-electric SUV headed to the US, with the iNEXT concept becoming the new BMW iX. Set to be officially launched in 2021, and then arrive in dealerships in the US the following year, the iX is still a work-in-progress, BMW says, though it already has some numbers to tease us with.
It’s based on the automaker’s fifth-generation eDrive technology, the combined electric drive units which bundle together motor, electronics, and more into a smaller, more efficient package. The BMW iX has two electric motors for all-wheel drive, and we’re told to expect around 500 horsepower from the SUV.
It’ll be sufficient for 0-62 mph in under 5.0 seconds, BMW says, though still deliver an EPA estimated range of 300 miles. That’s not the biggest range we’ve seen from a BEV SUV, true, but it’s still enough to put the iX in the upper-middle of the field, at least based on today’s models.
For charging, there’ll be DC fast charging support for up to 200 kW. That, BMW suggests, means that if you find a compatible charging station you’ll be able to take the iX from 10- to 80-percent in under 40 minutes. Ten minutes on a 200 kW connection is good for around 75 miles. Alternatively, on an 11 kW Level 2 charger, you’re looking at under 11 hours for a full charge from flat.
BMW is hooking up with EVgo in the US for its charging network, with updates to the BMW app showing things like real-time charger status, and allow them to start and monitor charging sessions. Those who lease or buy a BMW iX – or, indeed, other qualifying fully-electric BMW models – will get $100 of EVgo credit.
As for the design, the iX is roughly the same as the BMW X5 in length and width, and around the same height as the BMW X6. It’ll be offered with 20-, 21-, and 22-inch wheels. The wheelbase is 118-inches, and BMW says the front and rear track was made intentionally wide so as to balance long-distance comfort with sportier driving.
The familiar BMW kidney grille – which we’ve seen getting larger and more dominant in recent models – is present, with a futuristic twist befitting the EV’s status as an all-electric vehicle. It’s also designed with EV requirements in mind: since there’s no internal combustion version to consider, the iX’s grille is completely closed off. Instead of cooling, it’s where the camera, radar, and other sensors are packaged, along with a heating and cleaning system to keep them free of ice, snow, and road dirt.
The top coating, meanwhile, has a self-healing effect BMW claims. If warmed for a few minutes – or left at room temperature for 24 hours – small scratches and abrasions will repair on their own. The sensors themselves, meanwhile, feed into a computing system that’s 20x more capable than BMW uses in its existing cars.
The grille is flanked by new headlamps, which BMW says are its slimmest to-date. LED lights are standard, with new strips for the daytime running lights, while BMW Laserlight – with new Adaptive LEDs – will be an option. Above is the BMW roundel logo, which actually serves as a filler cap for the screen washer fluid reservoir. That’s because the hood itself isn’t designed to be opened by owners, only by authorized BMW technicians.
Inside, there’s an optional single-piece panoramic glass roof, with electrochroamatic shading that can tint it electronically. That activates automatically when the iX is parked, to help keep the cabin cool. The doors have electric handles, normally flush, while the frameless windows are a new design feature on a BMW SUV. They get three layers of sealing for acoustic improvement.
Managing noise, in fact, has been a big focus, BMW says. The exterior mirror have super-slim mounts, for example, which help minimize wind noise and improve aerodynamics. They integrate tiny turn signals, too. The charging port, meanwhile, is behind a flap on the right rear wheel arch, where a traditional BMW would have its gas tank filler.
There’ll be seating for five inside, with what BMW describes as a “lounge-style” cabin. No center tunnel to divide the left and right seats, and the “shy tech” aesthetic means most of the tech and controls are hidden. The steering wheel is hexagonal – with three-stage heating available – and there’s a simple rocker switch for gear selection and a freestanding BMW Curved Display for the infotainment.
That screen combines a 12.3-inch driver display and a central 14.9-inch touchscreen, with a magnesium housing and anti-reflective cover glass. BMW Operating System has a completely new UI, is 5G-connected, and there’s both voice control and an iDrive controller lower down. Rather than buttons, there’s a touch sensitive area with haptic controls for things like drive modes. A physical volume control is kept on, though. Wireless phone charging, two USB-C ports, and a 12V outlet is in the front too, with the center armrest – optionally heated – opens to reveal an illuminated storage compartment.
The optional head-up display has a frameless projector, to make its installation more subtle. 2.5- or 4-zone automatic climate control is available, with nano fiber filtering, and there’s an optional “radiant surface heating” package that makes the instrument panel, glove compartment, door panels, center armrest, and steering wheel provide “a cocoon of warmth.”
Hexagons make plenty of appearances in the styling, too, along with natural leather, FSC-certified wood, and plenty of recycled plastics. Alternatively there’s the option for Sensatec or optional microfiber covering the dashboard. Door pull handles are integrated, and the speakers are hidden behind the plentiful fabric trim, too. The new seats have integrated head restraints, and can be had with heating, ventilation, massage, and even built-in speakers.
In the rear, there’s space for three, and four USB-C ports. The 40/20/40 split bench has optional heating, and BMW says to expect more legroom thanks to the EV architecture. A 1,615W Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound System is optional, with 4D audio including integrated seat drivers, while a Harman Kardon eighteen speaker system with 655W is standard.
Clearly, BMW has paid plenty of attention to the new iX. All the same, we’ll have to wait a little while to see it translate to a production vehicle. That process is expected to begin next year, at the automaker’s Plant Dingolfing. Pricing and specific trim details – including the Sport package – will be conformed closer to launch for the US.