BMW’s iX 300-mile range electric SUV starts at $82,300

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When BMW first unveiled its flagship iX electric SUV in November, we speculated it would cost $70,000 or more, based on its luxurious styling and improved battery. Well, we were right – kind of. The German automaker has just announced that when it goes on sale early next year, the proposed price tag of the new EV will exceed $80,000.

That puts the iX squarely in Tesla Model X territory and leaves open the possibility that it could dethrone Elon Musk’s falcon-winged EV as the luxury SUV of choice for consumers. It will also compete with the Audi E-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes EQC when it finally arrives at dealerships in the first quarter of 2022.

According to BMW, the iX will start at $82,300 for the iX xDrive 50 when pre-orders for the SUV begin mid-year. That amount gives you an electric four-wheel drive engine configuration that can deliver 516 hp in 4.6 seconds for a sprint from 0 to 100 km/h. BMW says the iX will have an estimated range of about 300 miles based on the EPA test model, which lags behind the entry-level Tesla Model X with 360 miles of range on a full charge.

But the xDrive 50 variant won’t be the only version of the iX for long. BMW is planning a more powerful iX M60 model for the future, with more than 600 horsepower and the first all-electric SUV from the BMW subsidiary M GmbH, although the automaker won’t say exactly when that will be.

The edge I saw the iX in person last month at an event at the Classic Car Club in Manhattan, and while we weren’t allowed to drive it or even take pictures, we can say that the electric SUV looks just as attractive on-screen in Nov. There has been some criticism of the vehicle’s design, mainly centered on the aggressive and redundant blocked kidney grille.

But more than that, the grille serves as an “intelligent sensor panel” made with a polyurethane coating that can repair minor scratches within 24 hours at room temperature or by a five-minute supply of warm air.

Don Smith, product manager for BMW, said that while “obviously it doesn’t make sense to have an open grille,” the carmaker’s customers “want it to look like a BMW.”

There were a handful of quirky design features that are sure to delight car buyers. The rear view camera is embedded in the BMW logo in the center of the tailgate. If the camera is covered by mud or dirt, the logo sticks out a few inches and reveals a trickle of washer fluid.

The all-glass panoramic roof features electrochromatic dimming, which changes from translucent to milky opaque in a split second. And the iX is BMW’s first vehicle to come with a radiant heating system, which provides heating to vertical surfaces such as the instrument panel, glove compartment, door panels and contact surfaces such as the center armrest and steering wheel.

A lot of new technology will make its debut in the iX SUV, from DC fast charging capabilities up to 200 kW to available 5G and personal eSIM support. The one-piece panoramic glass roof is fitted with electrochromic blinds. And thanks to the Digital Key Plus function with ultra-wideband radio technology, owners can use their smartphone to start the car.

The fifth-generation eDrive platform of the BMW iX xDrive50 uses a 400-volt battery pack with a gross energy content of 111.5 kWh and a net energy content of 106.3 kWh. This makes it possible to charge from 10 percent to 80 percent in about 40 minutes with a 200 kW DC fast charger.

The curved iDrive screen was impressive, with colorful graphics and very little lag when switching between menus. The version of the iX available at the Classic Car Club was only a pre-production model, so not everything on display was final.

The rest of the control panel design exemplifies BMW’s shy tech principle. Instead of conventional buttons, a control surface with active haptic input, divided by feeler bars, is used to select the other functions of the iDrive menu. And there will be plenty of additional high-tech features commonly found on luxury EVs, such as augmented reality heads-up display to aid in navigation.

Along with the i4 luxury sedan, the iX will become BMW’s technological flagship, meaning it will feature multiple technologies that will be used in the German automaker’s upcoming vehicles, mainly electric powertrain and driver interface. It has been a long time coming and when it finally comes out next year it will be the start of something new for BMW.