Munich’s Tesla-challenger is here: The BMW iX [updated specs, pricing]

Derryn Wong

BMW’s large EV SUV has 500+hp, 600km range, 200kW fast-charging, goes on sale in 2021, and is the brand’s most advanced road-going vehicle to date 

First published November 11, 2020
Updated March 17, 2021 with iX 40 and iX 50 details, price estimate
Updated December 3, 2021 : The BMW iX has debuted in Singapore at EV Weekend 2021 – full details and pricing here!

Munich, Germany –

BMW has confirmed an all-new battery electric vehicle (BEV) dubbed the BMW iX, a BEV sport utility vehicle (SUV) which will go into production at the brand’s Dingolfing factory in Germany, next year.

It’s the full production version of the BMW iNEXT concept (below) first revealed at the LA Motorshow in 2018.

Looks like the iX – if you squint, wear sunglasses and hang upside down

The car premieres a number of different platforms for BMW: A new aluminum spaceframe with carbon cage construction, as well as a new digital platform with 5G and the ability to process 20 times as much data as previous BMWs, which will allow for greater assistance and autonomous drive functions, though the company has not said exactly what those will be just yet.

The German luxury brand made the announcement on November 11, 2020 on its #NextGen virtual media platform/conference, and released details on March 2021 on the variants and spec.

How much will it cost?

There will be an entry-level iX iDrive40 and a higher-spec iX iDrive50.

Currently we don’t know when it will arrive in Singapore exactly, but if it does go into production on schedule, the end of 2021 or early 2022 is a safe bet. We expect it to cost at least S$400,000 with COE.

BMW says the iX 40 costs EUR77,300, which is comparable to a BMW X5. In our calculations, the base price for a BMW X5 xDrive40i is EUR74,299, and that car costs S$350k to S$370k here.

The iX iDrive50i costs EUR98,000, which is similar to the EUR96,500 of a BMW X7 xDrive40i M Sport, a car which costs S$470,000 with COE here.

But the thing is, the EV adoption rebate and VES could mean the cars will likely cost less than that, up to S$45,000 less. Assuming the best case scenario, we could be seeing the iX iDrive40i for just above S$300k with COE, and the iX iDrive50i for just over S$400k with COE.

Power, tell us about the power…

Both cars have an electric motor on each axle, from BMW’s latest fifth-gen electronic drive tech, and all-wheel drive.

The iX iDrive40i (how many ‘i’ letters can you fit in a car name? This probably wins it…) has ‘more than 300hp’ and is capable of 0-100km/h in just over six seconds. The 50i has ‘more than 500hp’ with a 0-100km/h time of under five seconds.

BMW says the motors, power electronic, and single-speed transmission are integrated into one package, which results in better efficiency. The drive units, it claims, have a power efficiency factor (energy converted to work) of 93 percent, compared to 40 percent for combustion engines, and are better than rivalling e-motors.

Ok that’s the assault, what about batteries?

The batteries will have a capacity of around 100kWh, which isn’t eye-opening, as it’s almost the same as the Audi E-Tron and Jaguar I-Pace. What is eye-opening is that BMW is saying the car will be extra efficient, consuming less than 21kWh/100km, beating out both of the aforementioned cars (23kWh/100km and 24.4kWh/100km average, respectively) despite those cars being smaller. Incidentally, BMW has announced a rival to those cars in the form of the BMW iX3. 

UPDATE: The 40i has an efficiency of less than 20kWh/100km, and the 50i less than 21kWh/100km. The claimed range for each car is now over 400km and 600km, respectively, meaning the 50i has a larger battery capacity of around 120kWh and the 40i a smaller pack of around 80kWh.

So how far will it go and how fast will it charge? 

With a battery of that size, BMW says the iX iDrive50i will do more than 600km (WLTP test cycle), making the iX one of the longest-ranging EVs on the market. If you do run low on juice, the maximum charge rate is 200kW, faster than the E-Tron’s 150kW, but slower than the Porsche Taycan’s theoretical fastest charge rate of 270kW. Charging at 200kW will bring the iX from 10 percent to 80 percent in only 40 minutes, and give you 120km of range with just a 10-minute spurt of electrons. 

The iX iDrive40i will have a lower maximum charge capacity – 150kW – which means 90km in 10 minutes at that charge rate.

We heard it’s triple X rated…

Yes, you’re right, it’ll indulge in the hulking, swollen things known as BMW X cars three times over. BMW says the ‘ iX combines the functionality of the BMW X5 with the dynamism of the BMW X6 and the visual impact of the BMW X7.’

Err….what does that mean? 

Simply, the iX will be a large SUV. BMW calls it an SAV (sports activity vehicle) not a SAC (sports activity coupe) so it’s not an electric X6, if you were thinking that. 

According to BMW, it has the length and width of a BMW X5, or around 4.9-metres long and 2.1-metres wide, but slightly less tall, around the same height as an X6 (1.7-metres tall). At the same time, it will have a rather long 3.0-metre wheelbase, which is 25mm longer than the X5’s. But it won’t seat seven like the X7, only five. 

What’s it made of?

The iX is a real BMW i car in the sense that it picks up where its forebears left off, with echoes of the LifeDrive architecture.

What, nobody remembers that? That was BMW’s unique architecture for its original BMW i cars, the i3 and i8, which consisted of a carbonfibre (CFRP) passenger cell on top of an aluminium running chassis.

That was a super-clever idea, and obviously very expensive to develop but it’s already outdated tech in some ways, which is why the i3 and i8 are already phased out. 

The iX will have a predominantly aluminium spaceframe, which is probably a first for a modern BMW model. Currently within the BMW Group, only the Rolls-Royce Cullinan uses the technology, though ASF is long-associated with Audi and Jaguar. 

What about carbonfibre?

Yes, like its predecessors, there’s quite a bit of carbon used in its construction.

The car’s bodyshell is a composite of aluminium, steel, plastic and CFRP. The Carbon Core concept, using CFRP for key structural elements was pioneered in the current 7 Series. The iX has CFRP in its side frame, rain channels, roof frame, cowl panel, and rear window frame to form a ‘Carbon Cage’ (BMW’s emphasis) heir apparent to the LifeDrive architecture.

The carbon not only reduces weight (by five kilos over a comparable steel construction), but BMW claims it also allowed improvements to aerodynamics, refinement, and body rigidity, amongst other benefits. 

It looks quite sleek…

With a coefficient of drag of only 0.25 Cd, it’s the most slippery car in its class (as far as we can tell the only comparable EV on sale in RHD markets is the Model X) thanks to an almost completely flat underbody, which is mostly battery. BMW says the aero elements on the front, rear, underbody and wheels add 65km to the car’s range. The front has an active aerodynamic flap to adjust airflow for cooling when needed, as well as the by now familiar Air Curtains/Blades vents around the wheels.

What’s up with that look yo…

We’ve already seen the colossal kidney grille look on the BMW 4 Series and don’t worry, it doesn’t look that ridiculous in real life – CarBuyer will reveal Singapore launch news on that car on November 19, 2020, by the way. 

The cool thing about that ‘grille’ (it has no venting) is that it has an intricate design achieved with a ‘nanoscale vacuum-based coating process’, but it also hides a radar sensor, for one, and secondly has a self-healing polyurethane coating which will self-repair minor scratches over time.

The sculpted bonnet is another nice touch, and the BMW roundel opens to reveal not a Spirit of Bavarian Ecstasy, but a washer fluid reservoir. Oh and you can’t open the bonnet, as it only has power electronics underneath. 

Like its platform, the iX is very obviously a BMW i car – a dead giveaway being the horizontal line on the D-pillar of the car. But BMW has decided to focus on making the iX a pared-down future car that doesn’t flaunt its high-techness in your face. 

Check out the thin lights – BMW claims these are the thinnest on any of its production vehicles, with the rear integrating the now signature L-shape flair – and overall clean design, with BMW working hard to reduce the number of shutlines. The front bumper and boot section are all single-units with no shutlines, for example. 

It’s also shy…

Yes, though sadly it doesn’t have light-bending camouflage, it’s advanced in other ways (read below). The iX is the first presentation of BMW’s new idea of Shy Technology, or tech that isn’t obvious until you need to use it. Related to that idea are doors with pop-up handles and frameless windows, but more unique examples include how the ultrasonic parking sensors are integrated into the black body parts, and a rear view camera that hides away. Shy tech, says Hooydonk, is the opposite of high-tech. 

Tell us about the inside…

It’s more about subtraction than addition. 

BMW says the interior concept was to recreate ‘A loft on wheels’ with a cosy seating arrangement and minimalist approach’ – again, something the BMW i3 also echoed. 

“The vehicle itself technologically is very, very complicated, and it is probably the most intelligent vehicle that BMW has ever built. But it’s this technology which has allowed us to reduce the interior design dramatically,” says Adrian Van Hooydoonk, BMW Group’s chief of design. 

Along those lines, there are fewer buttons in the cabin – a trend we’re seeing across luxury cars now – like the climate controls being totally integrated into the screens, but thankfully BMW has kept the ‘iDrive’ rotary controller.

It looks much more fancy now though, being a ‘floating’ crystal shape that has touch functionality, and is surrounded by a wooden surface inset with touch buttons – another example of the ‘shy tech’ approach. 

And what about that huge display screen?

To one-up Mercedes and everyone else waving colossal screens about, BMW says the iX will have a colossal curved screen or ‘Curved Display’ on the inside. It’s not actually a single unit but a 12.3-inch instrument cluster for the driver, and a 14.9-inch ‘Control Display’ for infotainment functions. It wins the screen-waving contest, since the new S-Class has ‘only’ a 12.8-inch display, although it can have five displays inside. 

The Curved Display has discreet reinforcements behind, and it’s housing is made of lightweight magnesium, while the single glass panel has an anti-reflective coating (thankfully). 

What else is there to see? 

A lot of it is hidden. It’s mostly screens and the rotary controller, really. Can you see anything else? BMW hid the speakers behind the trim, and minimised the air vents. 

Like the previous i cars, the interior furnishings are sustainably-sourced and recyclable, with forestry-certified wood, recycled plastics in the door panels, console and more, and the i3’s olive-leaf-tanned leather returns too.

Interior room should be plentiful, as there’s no central tunnel to foul your passenger’s feet, all the better to kick back and enjoy the huge panoramic sunroof, which can be dimmed electro-chromatically. It’s the only such roof to use PDLC (polymer dispersed liquid crystal) tech.  

There’s also lots of space to stow things, the central console has two levels, while the passenger front door side has a cellphone stowage space as well. 

Lastly, what’s up with the wheel?

The iX has BMW’s first hexagonal steering wheel, a shape which BMW says is ‘suited to switching between automated and active driving’ and isn’t large enough to block your view of the control display. Let’s hope it’s nowhere as fat as an M steering wheel. 

Interesting there are dual rotary controls on each side of the wheel – very much like a Tesla Model 3’s setup. We did say ‘Tesla killer’ in the title…

When you say ‘Tesla killer’ we think something else…

That guy behind the wheel still has a job for now…

That’s only if you watch Harry Potter movies and let the car do the driving, illegally

BMW hasn’t mentioned autonomous driving just yet, which makes total sense since cars aren’t even allowed to drive themselves, in Singapore or anywhere else.

On the other hand says the iX is the most connected and smart car it’s ever made, able to process 20 times as much data as previous models, thanks in part to it having 5G internet onboard.

So what’s the use of a car with 5G and autonomous capabilities…both of which we can’t use yet?

What we can expect is that it will have all the latest active safety systems and requisite sensors and so on, and thus be able to take on autonomous driving features via over-the-air updates later on in the future. 

Right now, the iX looks like a very capable BEV SUV with lots of out of the box thinking, but one that also happens to be very future-proof. It’s still at least a year away though, and as BMW reveals more about the iX we’ll have a clearer idea of just what the car can – or can’t – do.


BEV bmw electric ix

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's chief editor brings 15 years of experience in automotive journalism. Previously, he was the editor for Top Gear Singapore, and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment. He's contributed to The Business Times, Today, and many other publications, and also covered technology as editor of Stuff magazine. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he is the Chief Slave of two cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong

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