As the world pivots toward electromobility, BMW has been a pioneer in the EV world. Their i3 hatchback was one of the first fully electric vehicles made available in SA. The German automaker is getting ready to release a full range of EV models, to be sold alongside its petrol and diesel-powered compatriots.
As consumers increasingly favour the tall driving position and luxuries that come with a premium SUV, the Munich-based brand has created something truly special in order to meet the needs of the customer, but from an environmentally responsible perspective.
The iX, a luxury SUV, promises to be every bit a BMW. Heading up design, the legendary Adrian van Hooydonk — the Dutch automobile designer who penned the gorgeous E63/E64 6 Series — refers to the all-new iX xDrive50 as the car which, “defines a new era of mobility.”
The sumptuous interior was the first priority for Hooydonk and BMW, from a design perspective. Modern, classy and cosy, the iX’s cabin boasts a minimalist approach that still manages to remain warm and inviting. Wood trim mixes with elegant leather and crystal-esque appointments.
Part of the minimalist approach meant reducing the amount of switches found in the premium cabin. BMW says that while there are still physical buttons to be found in the interior, technology has enabled the company and designers to create a clutter-free space. The iDrive controller, now crafted in a fabulous glass scroller, allows the driver and front passenger to control most of the functions through the BMW Operating System.
Despite the focus on luxury, BMW has not forgotten wavered on producing the iX xDrive50 as responsibly as possible. Plush Loft Stone Grey interior appointments are made of natural wool fibres. Instead of the conventional tanning agents used in most cars, the brand has implemented the use of olive leaf extract to treat the fine leather upholstery. “This is obtained from the leaves gathered following the annual pruning of the trees in European olive groves,” says the brand.
Even the floor mats and luxurious carpeting in the all-electric SUV are made from a synthetic yarn. BMW produces this from recycled nylon waste, via a special process. The source of this? Fishing nets recovered from the sea. This highlights the theme of sustainable mobility.
What provides this bastion of responsible motoring? Two electric motors send power to all four wheels, with 385 kW of all-electric power on tap. According to van Hooydonk, it is probably the most intelligent vehicle BMW has ever produced. Of course, BMW’s have always been renowned for their performance and driving dynamics. The iX is no different. Not only does the highly efficient drive system and higher density high-voltage batteries improve driving dynamics, but improves consumption. This addresses a number of worries that would-be buyers have about range and charging. Astonishingly, the iX xDrive50 is capable of driving 505 km on one charge.
Despite weighing over two tons, the iX xDrive50 will sprint, silently, to 100 km/h in 5.0 seconds flat. That’s not too far behind the legendary E39 M5, by the way.
The exterior certainly has presence. Adrian van Hooydonk describes the iX as, “monolithic.” “It is clean and robust, like a well-rounded stone with some facets sheared off.” There’s no mistaking the iX for a combustion-engined X5 or X7, with model specific appointments. Size wise, the Dutch designer remarks that the new model has the footprint of an X5, the roof height of an X6 and the wheel size of an X7.
“These were ideal ingredients to create a strong design character.”
Of course, efficiency is the name of the game. Style is important, but so are aerodynamics. The unique design cuts through the air cleanly, with a drag coefficient of 0.25 Cd - a best in this vehicle class.
BMW SA will be introducing the iX range to South Africa shortly, with the range kicking off with the iX xDrive40, priced at R1 650 000. With a power output of 240 kW and 630 Nm of torque, the 40 will be able to hit 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds and boasts an electric range of 350 km.
The iX xDrive50 will be priced slightly higher, at R2 175 000. As mentioned, 385 kW and 765 Nm of torque means the big Beemer can hit 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds. Air suspension is standard on this model, adding an even more supple ride quality to the luxurious experience.