2022 BMW iX: First Look at the BMW’s Electric SAV

BMW is paving the way for an all-new, all-electric lineup with the first-ever iX plug-in vehicle. It features new technology and a new design language when it comes to how people interact with their vehicles. Once inside the iX, occupants can choose to drive or not, because the 2022 BMW iX has autonomous driving functions.

It’s not a crossover. It’s not an SUV. Get this, it’s a Sports Activity Vehicle or SAV for short. That might sound a bit pretentious, but the plug-in electric iX from BMW promises to bring the aesthetic of science fiction movies much closer to home.

A New Exterior Design for BMW

BMW crossovers tend to have a curvaceous appeal, but the iX appears to be sculpted more aggressively. The 2022 iX has a body style unlike anything else on the BMW lot. It has the general proportions of an x5 but adds a longer wheelbase and numerous aerodynamic angles and cuts in the paneling. It takes the height of the x6 and the massive wheel space from the x7 and creates a new type of crossbreed SAV.

The profile has seamless door handles and frameless doors. The iX has floating C pillars with the iX logo on them that draw the eye toward the rear hatch. In the rear, the iX has narrow, almost slitted taillights and an air diffuser over the rear window.

The front of the 2022 BMW iX will certainly leave some auto enthusiasts scratching their heads. The signature BMW kidney grille is there, but it’s been redesigned for an electric vehicle. As you may know, front grilles are used to help cool the engines on ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, but you don’t need that function on electric vehicles.

BMW used the front grille to house all the iX’s sensors, radar, and cameras instead. This sensory array allows the iX to perform all its autonomous driving functions and advanced safety features. Other features of the front fascia include slitted headlights in the same style as the rear taillights. The lower portion of the front paneling has a new BMW design that evokes impressions of a vehicle in motion as well as abstract monochromatic art.

The All-Electric Powertrain of the 2022 BMW iX

The first-ever BMW iX is an all-electric vehicle that doesn’t have an internal combustion engine. Instead, the 2022 BMW iX will have a quick and nimble powertrain that can travel from zero to 60 MPH in less than 5 seconds. That’s what BMW is shooting for, but it’s obvious from this figure that the iX isn’t targeted at matching Tesla’s blistering acceleration.

The iX has dual motors that power both front and rear axles, giving it all-wheel-drive traction and torque. It will be capable of achieving 500 horsepower. Those are high-performance specs for the plug-in vehicle category. Only a few vehicles like the Jaguar iPace and the Tesla Model X will be able to match it.

The 2022 iX from BMW will have an estimated 300-mile all-electric driving range. BMW has partnered with some affiliate companies to facilitate more convenient charging. DC fast charging with EVgo will get drivers back on the road in 15 minutes with a 75-mile quick top-up or 80% recharge in 40 minutes. Owners can purchase an Amazon charging station and have it installed in their home, too. It fully charges the BMW iX in about 11 hours. 

The Futuristic Interior of the 2022 iX from BMW

The 2022 BMW iX seeks to control the conversation around exactly what a next-generation vehicle’s interior should look like and how it should serve the occupants. At once, the interior strikes you with the first impression of abundant space, as if all other vehicles were over-crowded with features that just don’t seem to matter anymore.

BMW designed the iX from the inside out because the relationship between car and occupant is fundamentally changing. Occupants can consider pastimes other than driving while riding in the iX. The interior looks like a lounge. It comes with more than adequate space for all occupants to stretch out and enjoy their journey.

The iX has a full panoramic sunroof top that has electrochromic shading. This means that you can change the transparency of the roof with the touch of a button. The 2021 Toyota Venza was one of the first commercial vehicles to use this feature, but BMW will undoubtedly get most of the hype.

The interior of the iX is illuminated and dominated by the wrap-around dashboard display screen. The bending screen is skewed toward the driver in all the press kits and promotional materials, but it will be interesting to see if final iX renders will show the flexing screen bending toward the passengers, too. When combined with the digital instrument cluster, the entire top deck of the dashboard flows together into one seamless screen.

The center console’s interface is quite futuristic indeed. It houses the electronic e-brake, push-button ignition, and gear selector. There are only settings for reverse, neutral, drive, and park. You can access media, telephone, and navigation from the large rotary wheel and control volume settings there, as well.

There’s a stunning rotary dial assembly in the lower portion of the center stack. It looks as if it’s bedazzled with illuminated gemstones as if you can access your navigation and phone contacts by conjuring magical spells. This style of the tactile interface hasn’t been seen on any other vehicle predating the iX. It stands as a well-thought-out contrast to the otherwise minimalistic inner cabins of the next generation’s electric vehicles. The center console floats above the paneling of the interior dashboard, giving it a three-dimensional aesthetic.

In an odd choice, BMW designers placed a square port in the headrest of the front seats. It almost looks like a place where you’d plug yourself into the matrix. It does not appear to be functional, but it echoes the futuristic nature of the 2022 iX.

Is the 2022 BMW iX Safe?

The 2022 iX from BMW has an aluminum frame that utilizes a composite of steel and carbon fiber. This helps the iX reach its top electric driving range, but it would be interesting to see the crash safety results. It’s unusual for that much aluminum to be used on the frame. It’s quite common for the body panels, but the iX incorporates aluminum into the frame of the vehicle itself.

The front fascia houses the sensory array that enables the 2022 iX to essentially drive itself. So, a fender bender could be astronomically expensive in the 2022 iX given the fact that so many high-tech components are housed behind the front grille. Damaging this section of the vehicle could potentially render the whole SAV inoperable.

Another safety concern is the autonomous driving feature. The iX can park, drive, and brake by itself in certain conditions. However, the driver is fully expected to remain ready to take control of the vehicle should the need arise. This is still a new frontier for the automotive industry, and there’s plenty of room to debate the relative safety of autonomous driving.

Final Thoughts about the all-new iX

The 2022 BMW iX goes on sale in late 2021 with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $80,000. That price is within range for other luxury electric vehicles like the Jaguar iPace and the Tesla Model X. However, it remains to be seen whether BMW will incorporate additional features in price-tiered bundles and packages.

The iX represents a new design language for BMW. All of the Level 3 autonomous driving features and body construction specs will get tweaked and placed on other electric vehicles in BMW’s stable. The lack of design elements in the exterior draws your eye toward the new features of the vehicle like the sensor array grille, large wheels, and sweeping roof. It’s all about acknowledging a new rulebook for aerodynamics and brand identity.

The iX exterior has shy tech amenities that only make themselves known when their function is needed. The front grille hides a sophisticated autonomous driving array. The doors have flush handles and windowsills. The rearview camera is concealed behind the rear tailgate BMW logo. In this manner, the form is the function. It’s the new wave of automotive design.

That aesthetic is echoed on the interior of the iX, as well. The interior is the real gem of this electric SAV. There’s so much interior space and BMW has one-upped Tesla by adding luxury to minimalism. The cabin of the iX isn’t simply empty. It’s just refined and uncluttered.

It’s performance specs are modest when you compare the iX to Tesla. BMW isn’t trying to match Tesla’s acceleration. It’s not even trying to compete in that arena. It has a decent driving range of 300 miles and decent speed. Perhaps, BMW is saving a sportier drivetrain for the 2024 electric version of the BMW i8. So, for now, the 2022 BMW iX will set the tone for BMW’s design strategy going forward and bring consumers closer to their sci-fi dreams.  

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