BMW iX xDrive50 in the test: Large SUV lies well on the road

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Big hooter with smooth steering and agile character

BMW iX xDrive50 in the test: Large SUV lies well on the road-xdrive50

The BMW iX is big, really big, especially long. In terms of shape, the four cars that are waiting for us testers in the BMW garage in Garching look a bit like inflated i3 models.

I'm supposed to take the five-meter ship from the north of Munich to the production plant in Dingolfing and back again. Or may? In any case, a four-hour drive is a real task for me, who I hardly tested any more cars during the pandemic.

Project manager Johann Kistler first gives us an introduction. For him, the iX is the crowning glory of his professional career: in the 1980s, he had already set up a study with a sodium-sulfur battery at BMW. At that time, you could charge a range of 60 km in four hours – what a difference to the iX, which added a range of 150 km in just 10 minutes.

Operation still preferred by controller

Kistler explains to me how to operate the car: unlike the cars in the press photos, my car has no wood in the center console, which seemed to me to be very ostentatious anyway, but rather a piano lacquer part. "We still rely on the controller to operate while driving," says Kistler, pointing to the crystal-like rotary and slide button. It's safer when driving because you don't have to look. But if you want, you can also operate the functions using the touchscreen.

BMW iX xDrive50 in the test: Large SUV lies well on the road-lies

Center console of the basic version with black piano lacquer

The curved display looks much smaller than on the press photos. "We're not entering into a competition for who has the largest monitor," says Kistler. The thing is not very high, but it looks like one piece and stands free on the dashboard. Overall, the cockpit looks significantly different from what you are used to from BMW. Only the steering column stalks are reminiscent of the Munich standard – which so far has always been a bit dreary and, with all the black plastic, almost seemed cheap.

Also unusual: the doors are not opened from the inside using a pull lever, but electronically, using a button – probably to prevent the dreaded dooring, the accidental opening of the door when a cyclist approaches. That does not bother me. Only the contrast is noticeable: On the one hand, BMW relies on the traditional "turn-push control" instead of relying entirely on touch technology, on the other hand, the door is opened from the inside using a button (for good reasons).

You can sit comfortably in the rear of the iX; especially the knee room is great. The trunk is obviously usable, even if the loading threshold is quite high. Despite air suspension, the trunk cannot be lowered. Another disadvantage: there is no frunk; the charging cables should be placed under the loading floor – but where they are not so easy to grasp when fully loaded.

Good road holding, but easy steering

But now it should start. Two iXs drive after an X6, because this is not a free test, but a "guided scenic drive". Even at the first roundabout, it is noticeable how agile the iX is when cornering – my car has rear-wheel steering on board. In addition, the steering wheel turns almost by itself, whereas I'm used to a rather tough steering feel from BMWs. I like both extremely well.

The air suspension that my car has on board, however, is designed too much for comfort for my taste: When I steer back and forth at a medium speed, the swaying almost feels like I'm sitting on a foam cube. The suspension expert in front advises me to try it in sport mode. But no, subjectively it gets even worse, probably because it not only makes the damping tighter, but also adjusts the steering.

Image gallery: BMW iX xDrive50 in dark blue (2021)

BMW iX xDrive50 in the test: Large SUV lies well on the road-gallery xDrive50 dark blue 2021

On the autobahn I give full throttle and storm after the X6. The top speed of 200 km / h is quickly reached. Even if the iX doesn't feel that fast, because the 2.6-ton truck is very full on the road, it can hardly be disturbed. Ideal for the motorway. However, I see the power consumption soar to 27 kWh / 100 km.

More about the BMW iX: BMW iX xDrive50 in the test: Large SUV lies well on the road-gallery xDrive50 dark blue 2021 BMW iX: Interesting charging and performance curves

BMW iX xDrive50 in the test: Large SUV lies well on the road-xdrive50 BMW iX (2021) even tops Tesla with a range of 600 km

Later on on the country road, I come up with more moderate consumption of 22 or 23 kWh. Here, too, the enormous weight is noticeable when I watch the consumption display. If I take the gas off, it quickly shows -40 kWh, if I turn it on, it turns into +60 kWh just as quickly. The plus here is only a plus in mathematical terms.

Adaptive recuperation – or one pedal driving

And what about recuperation? I am an avowed lover of one pedal driving. The iX does not offer this from the start, but it can be set. Since the iX has no steering wheel paddles, I simply activate B mode (on the gearbox selector). Then the iX drives exactly the way I like it: Cut the gas and the car slows down.

The adaptive recuperation, preselected as standard, is also cool: This increases recuperation when rolling towards a place-name sign, a vehicle in front or a speed limit. Even on a downhill slope, I notice that the iX no longer rolls freely downhill, but has automatically tightened the reins. BMW did a good job of that.

Platform? Not CLAR

When we arrive in Dingolfing, we take a tour of the BMW factory, where the iX is built. On the same assembly line as the BMW 5, 7 and 8 series. When asked whether the conventional CLAR architecture is also the basis of the iX, Kistler says no: It is a platform of its own. As a kind of evidence, he shows me that there is no center tunnel in the iX.

Then another half an hour of technology is announced, after all, the car is BMW's technological spearhead when it comes to electromobility. I ask Kistler why the iX 40 has the same electric motors as the iX 50, but a lower system performance.

BMW iX xDrive50 in the test: Large SUV lies well on the road-xdrive50

The performance curve of the iX 50 (left in the picture) ends abruptly at 385 kW

As I already thought, the system performance is limited by the maximum current output of the battery. And since the two iX versions have different batteries, the system performance is also different.

The cells of the two variants are different in size and weight, as we can see for ourselves based on samples. According to BMW, the cells also come from different manufacturers. The expert cannot or does not want to tell me whether there is a different chemistry involved.

Kistler also shows me the electrochromic glass roof: it can be switched to opaque or transparent with a button on the roof. Whereby one shouldn't imagine under "transparent" that the glass is as transparent as the freshly cleaned living room window at home. It stays milky.

Fiddled with the standard equipment

My test car is equipped with air springs and rear-axle steering, but otherwise pretty basic. No cruise control, no automatic lane guidance, and no rear-view camera either: what I would find completely okay in a compact car seems strange to me in a 100,000-euro car (the iX 50 is available from 98,000 euros). So intelligent when it comes to recuperation, and then no cruise control? Since BMW has apparently tinkered with the standard equipment. Anyone who buys the car should plan a little more money for such extras.

More about the BMW iX: BMW iX xDrive50 in the test: Large SUV lies well on the road-large BMW iX in comparison with Audi e-tron, Mercedes EQC, Tesla Model Y

BMW iX xDrive50 in the test: Large SUV lies well on the road-gallery xDrive50 dark blue 2021 BMW iX (2021): First ride in the new electric SUV

Conclusion: a big technology boom

The BMW iX is not the most environmentally friendly car on the market. Sure, it drives locally emission-free, and the WLTP consumption of around 20 kWh is excellent for this class. But of course a VW e-Up is more economical with energy and can also be produced in a more resource-saving way.

The iX is just a big bummer. The advantages include the good road holding, the high stability when driving fast. Nevertheless, thanks to rear-wheel steering, the five-meter ship remains agile in tight corners. I also like the smooth steering, while the chassis is too spongy for me. Is that crucial for most electric car drivers? Probably not.

With the iX 50, which costs almost 100,000 euros, BMW probably does not want to come up with large numbers either. Above all, the Munich-based company wants to show what is technically possible that BMW can do just as well as Tesla. This has succeeded, which can be seen, for example, in fast charging, in aerodynamics and in power consumption. With a range of over 600 km, BMW even beat the Americans.

BMW iX xDrive50

engine 2 electric motors (current-excited synchronous motors)

power 385 kW

Max. Torque 765 Nm

drive all wheel drive

Acceleration 0-100 km / h 4.6 sec.

Top speed 200 km / h

length 4,953 mm

broad 1,967 mm

height 1,696 mm

Trunk volume 500 – 1750 liters

Empty weight 2,585 kg

Payload 560 kg

battery 105 kWh net

Electric range 630 km WLTP

Charging port up to 11 kW AC, up to 200 KW DC (CCS)

Charging time 11h AC, 35 min DC (10-80%)

Market launch November 2021

Base price 98,000 euros

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