Automotive

BMW iX grilles its way toward a high-tech electric future

BMW iX grilles its way toward ...
Powered by a 500-hp dual-motor electric drive, the iX can run 0 to 62 mph in an estimated five seconds or less
Powered by a 500-hp dual-motor electric drive, the iX can run 0 to 62 mph in an estimated five seconds or less
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There's nothing "shy" about that grille, but BMW does say it's part of the new "shy tech" strategy because it conceals a variety of driver-assistance sensors
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There's nothing "shy" about that grille, but BMW does say it's part of the new "shy tech" strategy because it conceals a variety of driver-assistance sensors
The iX is sized closest to the BMW X5, albeit with a lower, sportier roofline
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The iX is sized closest to the BMW X5, albeit with a lower, sportier roofline
Powered by a 500-hp dual-motor electric drive, the iX can run 0 to 62 mph in an estimated five seconds or less
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Powered by a 500-hp dual-motor electric drive, the iX can run 0 to 62 mph in an estimated five seconds or less
Instead of two separate screens, as on the iNext concept, BMW combines the instrument panel and infotainment display into a single curved display
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Instead of two separate screens, as on the iNext concept, BMW combines the instrument panel and infotainment display into a single curved display
BMW is still on track to start iX production in 2021
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BMW is still on track to start iX production in 2021
Like looking at a hungry tiger running directly at you
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Like looking at a hungry tiger running directly at you
BMW revealed the iX as part of this year's
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BMW revealed the iX as part of this year's #NEXTGen events
After years of talking and teasing, BMW presents the near-production iX
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After years of talking and teasing, BMW presents the near-production iX
The taillamps are thin and wide, much like the headlamps
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The taillamps are thin and wide, much like the headlamps
BMW promises that sustainable materials are part of the iX plan
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BMW promises that sustainable materials are part of the iX plan
No weird bench seat with integrated touch controls here
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No weird bench seat with integrated touch controls here
Head restraints integrated into the front headrests
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Head restraints integrated into the front headrests
BMW centralizes physical controls on this small, handsome console
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BMW centralizes physical controls on this small, handsome console
Shy Tech: Speakers, controls and vents are integrated more subtly around the interior
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Shy Tech: Speakers, controls and vents are integrated more subtly around the interior
The iX has dual motors wired to a 100-kWh-plus battery pack
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The iX has dual motors wired to a 100-kWh-plus battery pack
BMW iX exterior highlights
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BMW iX exterior highlights
BMW iX interior highlights
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BMW iX interior highlights
Mre exterior highlights
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More exterior highlights
BMW iX interior highlights
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BMW iX interior highlights
BMW iX under construction
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BMW iX under construction
View gallery - 20 images

Two years ago, BMW rolled out the Vision iNext as a wheeled laboratory of next-gen autonomous and HMI (human machine interface) technology. Nothing about it felt particularly imminent, save for the electric powertrain that BMW didn't actually detail. Today, the iNext turns into the iX, a big step toward a production 300-mile (483-km) electric SUV on its way to market next year. With the huge grille that has become a head-scratching hallmark of modern BMW design, the new technological flagship is ready to eat the competition – perhaps, literally.

We last saw the futuristic electric iNext SAV (that's "sports activity vehicle" in BMW's persistent parlance) being put through its paces in the Swedish Arctic in February 2019. It was wrapped in camo as tightly as a Christmas present dropped from Santa's nearby sleigh, but you could already tell it was shedding its odd concept lines in favor of a more polished production skin – regular wheels, exterior door handles and less of a glowing violet aura.

BMW takes a step closer to full production reality in showing the iX, a sort of middle step between the iNext and next year's production SUV, which will presumably get a more specific name or number so as not to be confused with the iX3. Today's iX looks quite production-ready and stretches roughly the same 194-in (493-cm) length and 79-in (201-cm) width as the X5, with the 66-in (168-cm) height of the more coupe-like X6.

There's nothing "shy" about that grille, but BMW does say it's part of the new "shy tech" strategy because it conceals a variety of driver-assistance sensors
There's nothing "shy" about that grille, but BMW does say it's part of the new "shy tech" strategy because it conceals a variety of driver-assistance sensors

The iX's stance seems slightly more upright than the iNext's, supported by the B-pillars needed to hang the non-coach rear doors. The impossibly thin, wiry headlamps have been opened up a little, but BMW promises they're still the slimmest headlights to ever feature on one of its series-production cars.

BMW refuses to take the very available opportunity to hem in the iNext's massive maw, despite readily admitting that the EV doesn't need very much cooling at all. Instead, the huge standing double-kidney seen previously on the likes of the new 4 Series lives on. Rather than air-sucking mesh, that big hunk of face hides a series of radars, cameras and other sensors behind a solid transparent panel. Its unfortunate hugeness is further accentuated by ridges that extend up the hood from each kidney, creating a ravine between them to swallow the BMW emblem whole. No thank you.

Like looking at a hungry tiger running directly at you
Like looking at a hungry tiger running directly at you

The iNext concept featured its most dramatic elements on the inside of the doors, and here, too, BMW sands things down to near-production form. To no one's surprise, the amorphous rear bench with touch controls shining through its jacquard cloth is gone, replaced with a very standard three-seater with headrests.

Still alive and kicking is the theme of "shy tech," taking the form of heated surfaces, concealed speakers and a head-up projector integrated subtly into the hovering curved instrument panel/infotainment widescreen. Likewise, the dashboard and center console house but slim HVAC vents, having been stripped of the usual physical controls. BMW centralizes what controls are left on the steering wheel and a center control panel with finger-sized gear rocker switch, transparent dial, and a few other select buttons and switches.

Instead of two separate screens, as on the iNext concept, BMW combines the instrument panel and infotainment display into a single curved display
Instead of two separate screens, as on the iNext concept, BMW combines the instrument panel and infotainment display into a single curved display

The iNext concept didn't debut with powertrain specs, but BMW says that the production car will use a 500-hp (373-kW) pair of electric motors and a floor-mounted high-voltage battery pack surpassing 100-kWh. It believes the configuration will push the car past 374 miles (600 km) on the WLTP cycle, racking up more than 300 miles (483 km) on the EPA FTP-75 test. It also throws out a sub-5-second 0-62 mph (100 km/h) estimate. A lightweight structure based around a "carbon cage" and aluminum space frame and an optimized 0.25 drag coefficient contribute to those numbers.

The iX will be capable of DC fast-charging at up to 200 kW, and BMW says the battery will charge from 10 to 80 percent in under 40 minutes. Those looking for a shorter charge will be able to zap the battery with about 75 miles (120 km) during a 10-minute pit stop. Meanwhile, 11-kW home wall box charging will be an overnight job, taking a little shy of 11 hours.

The taillamps are thin and wide, much like the headlamps
The taillamps are thin and wide, much like the headlamps

The iNext/iX has been billed as BMW's cutting-edge next-leap autonomous vehicle for years now, and while that won't mean full Level 5 robo-driving, the iX promises to feature the heavy-duty computing power and AI to push forward with a more automated driving experience.

"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," explains BMW board member Frank Weber.

BMW revealed the iX as part of this week's #NEXTGen 2020 event. The second annual #NEXTGen takes on a digital format this year, featuring a variety of online reveals, presentations and discussions.

BMW plans to begin iX production at its Dingolfing plant in the second half of 2021. The high-tech e-SUV will be among the 25 electrified models the company plans to have in production by 2023.

Source: BMW

View gallery - 20 images
7 comments
Daishi
I would not have looked at that and guessed the 0.25 drag coefficient.
Ben Samways
Grille sucks. Really? EV allows so much flexibility in design. Where are the clean sleek lines, what's in the engine bay? A Frunk? Sensors don't take up much space.
DavidB
Photos 12, 10, and 17 show front-seat headrests with large hard rectangles embedded in the spot where your head would be, sitting there. I can’t see how that’ll be sold as a good thing.

Between those and the way the headrests are tipped forward—don’t designers know how human bodies work?—and what’ll presumably be a Tesla-like price tag, are more than enough to keep me out of a BMW showroom.
Username
I prefer the i3
Nelson Hyde Chick
This thing is really ugly!!!
Daishi
@DavidB I think forward tilting headrests are considered safer and perform better in collisions.
WB
this thing is FUGLY! and given the price point you can get a tesla get more range, more acceleration, get it now, not in two years and have autopilot and auto updates standard...