Since the release of the Tesla Model X, there’s been a few brands take a shot at a luxury EV SUV, including Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Now it’s BMW turn. Enter the 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 – and boy, oh boy, was it worth the wait.
Let’s address the elephant in the room though, in the form of the grille – actually let’s not, it’s been done to death, and in this case, it serves a purpose, housing a host of safety tech and sensors. It’s also made partly of polyurethane, meaning it can heal itself.
From the sporty front bumper to its flared wheel arches and optional 22-inch wheels, the BMW iX xDrive50 turns heads, especially at night. That’s thanks to its elegant and slender laser headlights, and slim, pulsating rear taillights.
As you gaze down the side of the car, you might expect to see door handles, but BMW has moved away from traditional, obtrusive door handles and instead built them into the doors. It gives the SUV a sleek and more sophisticated look.
The tapering roof line evokes sports SUV feels, and the tasteful rear roof spoiler completes the look. Rather than leaving the rear bumper plain and boring, BMW designers have added some character with some diffuser-like elements.
Interior look and feel
Where the 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 excels though, is in its interior. Step inside and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a cocktail bar, where the only thing missing is a cigar, a martini and some soft jazz.
From the pillarless door frames to the unbelievably comfortable diamond quilted leather seats that are apparently sustainably sourced, it screams luxury. There’s a real environmentally friendly bent here too.
Parts of cabin are made up of recycled materials and if you’re not a fan of leather, you have the option of either vegan leather or cloth trim. Even the leather itself is dyed with olive leaf extract, rather than nasty chemicals that are harmful to nature.
An olive leaf logo imprinted into the dash on the passenger side is a nice reminder. The seats themselves are fully electronically adjustable and are fitted with a massaging function. Their controls have been relocated to the door and are encased in crystal.
You’ll find more of that throughout the cabin, with crystal replacing the traditional buttons and dials, including the iDrive swivel wheel, gear selector and volume control. The floating middle console is also another neat touch and divides the driver and passenger.
The air vents in the front, along with some of the door trims are finished off in copper. That makes a refreshing change from the overused Piano Black we see in many cars. The rear floor is flat too, one of the true benefits of an EV.
This ensures you can comfortably fit three people in the back seats, with plenty of headroom and legroom, no matter what height they are. The seats themselves feel like a lounge, filled with duck feathers.
Boot space is 500-litres, or 1,750-litres with the back seats folded down, and we have to say, overall, the interior design is a standout, and feels exclusive and expensive.
Technology and connectivity
The latest version of BMW’s outstanding iDrive system is fed through a curved 14.5-inch display, which adjoins 12.3-inch display (instrument cluster) for the driver, in front of a quite unusually designed steering wheel.
The infotainment setup can all be controlled either through the swivel wheel, voice commands (which turn on whenever it pleases) or by touch. In terms of connectivity, you have wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Wireless phone charging can be found under the centre console, along with two USB-C inputs. This minimalistic design continues throughout the cabin, with no functional or physical climate control buttons, you’ll find those on screen (it’s a process we didn’t love).
While you relax, you’ll find yourself gazing up to the sky through the monstrous electro-chromatic panoramic sunroof, that can be switched from transparent to opaque at the touch of a button. There’s also USB- C charging ports in the back of the front seats.
On the road, BMW’s flagship EV SUV is a completely different beast to its brothers and sisters, with dual electric motors delivering 385kW and 765Nm respectively. Some 55 per cent of the power from the xDrive all-wheel drive system is sent to the rear wheels.
All this goodness allows the 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 to sprint from 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds. That may not sound like much on paper, but this is an EV, with instant power delivery. It will throw you back in your seat like you’ve just been shot out of a cannon.
BMW has also addressed the soulless, silent nature of EVs by hiring famous composer Hans Zimmer (the man behind the aural spectacular that is The Dark Knight, as well as Interstellar), to create a noise that only The Endurance could match.
Three drive modes (Eco, Personal and this writer’s favourite, Sport) are available at the push of a button, and each one dictates how intensely the spaceship like sounds are pumped throughout the cabin.
No matter the mode though, this has to be one of the most comfortable cars we’ve ever driven, thanks to its air suspension, which allows it to glide over imperfections on the road. Rear wheel steering enhances its manoeuvrability, particularly when parking.
The iX xDrive50 is fitted with a 112kWh battery, with a max charging rate of 200kWh. It will charge up to 100km of range in under 21 minutes at a fast charger, or about 1 hour 41 minutes from a home wall box. It has a claimed range of 620km.
In the real world, we managed between 540 and 580km, thanks to things like charging phones, air conditioning, and those massage seats, which sap battery.
Overall, its flaws are minimal, but include the fact there’s only a single option for regenerative braking. The turning circle is hopeless and the charging speed is, in reality, pretty damn slow. That aside, the build quality is amazing, ride comfort is magic, and the handling is precise and agile.
In a nutshell, BMW has set the bar for what an EV SUV should be. It’s truly worth its hefty price tag, at $169,900 for the standard offering, or around $10K more for the version we had, which had a couple of optional extras.
Available only in Sport configuration, the 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 comes in a choice of eight colours, three wheels and a couple of interior trims. It has a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
Our test vehicle was provided by BMW Australia. To find out more about the 2022 BMW iX xDrive50, contact your local BMW dealer. You can read the full story at Exhaust Notes Australia.