Yes, the styling is controversial. You don’t need to be an expert in any form of design – whether that be of a desktop lamp, a mix master or a skyscraper – to know that the overlarge take on the traditional BMW “kidney” grille seen on the BMW iX is a lot to take. Of course BMW has never been one to shy away from designing some pretty wild front-ends – look at the current X5 and X7 SUVs to see what I mean – so the image seen on this most futuristic of BMW SUVs, you could argue, is a natural progression. Plus, if you really can’t take it, you can order your iX in any number of dark colours and colour the grille dark as well for a nice spot of camouflage.
Of course, there’s also the fact that it’s not a grille at all but a decal, because being an EV, the iX has nothing to cool there. I wonder if a lot of the mirth we’re hearing about the front-end is more about that than the styling itself – not everyone is on the EV bandwagon just yet.
Otherwise, the styling is just fine; the wheels are good, the slim taillights help the rear fascia match the futuristic look of the front end and the stance is just muscular enough to save the iX from looking like an EV puffball.
The real fun begins, however, when you step inside. It’s airy and filled with enviro-conscious materials, but the design is the kicker, how open it all is. The centre console is a dual-tiered set-up, but since there’s no transmission tunnel it doesn’t extend all the way to the dash, allowing for more breathing room and making it easier to sling items across your lap into the front passenger’s seat. They’ve shaped the steering wheel so your legs don’t bump it and the dual digital display for your gauges and infotainment is curved and angled subtly towards the driver so that they feel ensconced, but not cramped. Coupled with the fact that you’re burning nothing but electrons, driving the iX is like a breath of fresh air. The wood ‘round the iDrive wheel, meanwhile, lends a nice coffee shop ambiance to the proceedings; just wish there was more of it.
Then there’s the power.
In xDrive50 spec seen here, the iX is good for 520 km of range, while two EV motors combine for 308 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque; not huge numbers, by any means – the X5 xDrive50e makes more of both – but since you have direct-drive EV power, throttle response is instantaneous and it feels much faster than the numbers suggest.
At the end of the day, though – well, end of the year, I guess, considering the nature of this series – it’s the ride and handling that did it for me. It gets rear-wheel steering for a smaller turning radius in-town and for more stability at speed and that’s great, but it’s the overall package that is so spot-on. It’s smooth when you need it to be, responsive when you expect it to be and everything in between.
Which was a relief, because having driven BMWs for a decade I’ve seen how they’ve shifted a little from the road racers in drag you could argue most of them were, to one of the biggest proponents of EV motoring and a good EV car does not necessarily a fun drive make. Luckily, BMW hasn’t forgotten their roots with the iX, and I’m all for it.