BMW unveils iX electric SUV with 373-mile range

Its looks have polarised but the specs impress

BMW HAS unveiled the iX, an X5-sized pure-electric SUV with a claimed range of 373 miles to rival models including the Mercedes EQC, Audi e-tron 55 quattro, Jaguar I-pace and Tesla Model X.

The iX will join the smaller iX3 as part of BMW’s zero emission SUV offering, and is the company’s second model offered solely with an electric drivetrain since the i3 in 2013.

Its claimed range would enable the iX to go further on a single charge than any of the aforementioned competitors. BMW claims that the impressive range has been achieved by optimising the car’s aerodynamic qualities: it has a drag coefficient of 0.25.

The SUV is similar in size to the X5 in length and width, with an X6-comparable height and X7-sized wheels, and BMW says that the new architecture and drivetrain means that there is optimal interior space, including extra legroom and an “open, airy feel”.

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The iX also marks the first appearance of a “new, modular, scalable toolkit” developed by BMW. It utilises the fifth generation of BMW’s electric motor, which made its debut in the iX3, though in iX two motors have been fitted to produce more than 493bhp combined.

That can propel the iX to 62mph in under five seconds, the car maker says — although competitors such as the I-Pace can do the sprint in a similar time with significantly less power.

BMW has neglected to mention the specific weight of the car in its press release, and has emphasised the iX’s “lightweight design”, but it will reportedly be around 2.5 tonnes.

The new model can be charged using fast charging up to 200kW, meaning that the battery can be filled from 10%-80% in under 40 minutes. BMW also claims that 75 miles can be added to the iX’s range from just 10 minutes of charging.

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As tends to be the case with modern BMWs, the conversation following its release has largely surrounded its looks. The large vertical kidney grille (which houses an intelligence panel in the iX that manages camera and radar functions) needs no introduction, having already been included on the new 4-series, M3 and M4. Other aesthetic cues include a heavily sculpted bonnet, squared off wheel arches and a sloping roofline.

In response to criticism of the car’s looks, BMW said: “When it comes to innovative design, it’s very common for some to find it unusual and odd. Be open to the new look and let’s embrace the future together.”

Unlike other electric models the iX doesn’t have a front storage compartment (or, obviously, an engine), meaning that the bonnet cannot be opened. Rather, the BMW logo at the front can be flipped up for when the washer fluid needs replacing. The logo on the rear of the car, meanwhile, houses the rear camera.

The new technological “toolkit” included on the iX means that digital capability is significantly improved on previous BMWs, with more computing power — reportedly 20 times more than previous models.

Frank Weber, member of the board of management, said: “The iX has more computing power for data processing and more powerful sensor technology than the newest vehicles in our current line-up, is 5G-capable, will be given new and improved automated driving and parking functions and uses the high-performing fifth generation of our electric drive system.”

The BMW iX’s release date will be made known towards the end of next year.