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The iX ushers in a new chapter for BMW, but will its first fully electric sports activity vehicle tempt company buyers away from rivals?
LED rear lights, polygonal steering wheel, four-zone air-conditioning, heated front seats, 12V power sockets, Harmon/Kardon surround sound audio system, wireless charging tray, Live Cockpit Professional with head-up display including 12.3in instrument cluster and 14.9in central display.
Sport, M Sport
Let's be honest, recent BMW models have challenged previous brand perceptions with their styling. Large kidney grilles appear to be the norm now, and the latest 4-Series proves this look can work very well. However, the iX's are the biggest yet, almost completely blanked off and we reckon are likely to be one of the key opinion dividers with the styling of this car.
Another key identifier of the iX at the front are the high-set headlamp units, which are the slimmest with LED technology that BMW have ever produced. These headlights seamlessly integrate with the tops of the grilles, but the rest of the front of this BMW is made up of the distinctive front air dam. In fact, it's made even more distinctive on M Sport models, with specific front and side aprons and rear diffuser.
Move to the side and the iX's style is more conventional. Although there's still some unusual flaring to the wheel arches, the windows are frameless like in a coupe or convertible, and there are no door handles as such - just solenoids. Plus, all iX models ride on massive 20 and 21in alloy wheels.
The back of this BMW follows the style of the front, with slim, high-set lights that almost cover the whole of the rear of the iX and a large rear airdam.
You won't mistake the iX for any other car, which we think is a good thing and we're sure when we see more on UK roads, the styling won't stand out so much. However, it's a design that's very colour sensitive.
The iX is as radical on the inside as it is on the outside. The dashboard is dominated by the curved display that's perched on it, housing a 14.9in infotainment touchscreen and a 12.3in driver display. These house the instruments and BMW's latest generation of its iDrive with Operating System 8. Elsewhere, perhaps following Audi's lead, there's a quartic or, as BMW calls it, polygonal steering wheel and tall centre console housing the controls for the iDrive.
The good news is the iDrive is simple and intuitive to use, although it's disappointing that there are no separate buttons for the climate control, plus the digital instruments are sometimes hard to read and the odd steering wheel design is difficult to get comfortable with.
With all the surfaces covered in Alcantara and metal details in a copper colour, plus the seat controllers on the doors and circular infotainment controller finished in a cut glass-like finish, there is no doubt the iX's interior is beautifully finished.
The iX is spacious too, with impressive front and rear legroom. The single-piece front seats are really comfortable, but in Sport spec, like our car, I wonder if they should be more supportive? There's plenty of useful stowage too, with neat features such as a wireless phone charging pad, USB-C and 12V sockets dotted around the cabin. The boot has a high loading lip and holds just 500 litres, which is smaller than some rivals, although the rear seats can be folded 40:20:40 to create extra space.
The iX range consists of the xDrive 50, which has a combined output of 523hp and a range of up to 380 miles, plus the xDrive 40, producing 326hp and can cover 257 miles on a single charge and is expected to be the key fleet choice. A range-topping iX xDrive 60 will arrive at a later date, with BMW claiming a maximum output over 600hp and an "exceptionally sporty driving experience". All iX versions are equipped with an intelligent all-wheel-drive system.
The long range is complimented by flexible charging that is designed to be as convenient as possible. DC power can be taken on board at a rate of up to 195kW (BMW iX xDrive50) or 150kW (BMW iX xDrive40). This allows the battery charge to be increased from 10 to 80% in around 35 minutes in the BMW iX xDrive50 or 31 minutes in the BMW iX xDrive40.
On the road, the iX's responsive steering and tidy handling go against its tall SUV body and 2,365kg weight. Although the steering could do with more feel.
The highlight of the iX's drive is surely the ride. Even on the optional 22in wheels and despite its weight, this BMW is impressively well resolved and refined - although it's at its best at higher speeds.
As expected, the BMW iX impresses. The interior is spacious and beautifully detailed, it drives well and has an impressively refined ride. Although if you choose the xDrive 40 that we have here, the range at 257 miles is no better than rivals. However, the BMW's flexible charging should cut down time spent at chargers.