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All-new zero-emissions flagship luxury car strikes out in bold, sophisticated style

Some car manufacturers probably feel similarly about the advent of 2030, and the gradual enforced phasing out of the combustion engine that it will begin to bring to markets all over the world, as 1990s tech companies did about the arrival of the millennium bug in 2000. Just a few, however, seem bold enough to look at it like our young century’s greatest business opportunity.

Having played a small but notable part in the emergent stages of the European electric car scene with the likeable i3, BMW has evidently got a busy few years of zero-emission launches planned – because, from a not-quite-standing start, the BMW Group is aiming for 50% of its total sales to be electric-only by 2030.

Headlights are all-LED units as standard, with BMW’s active Laserlights an option and fitted to our test car. The technology makes them compact as well as powerful, and their slimness certainly helps to define the visual character of the car

If there’s a sure-fire way to show the world that you’re serious about electrification, it’s with a statement car like this week’s road test subject. The BMW iX is an electric halo model based on an all-new, EV-only platform that’s coming not only to dominate its closest electric SUV rivals, but also to help redefine the luxury car for the zero-emissions age, and to blow away the compromises that we expect to apply to them.

With its most powerful versions breaching the 600bhp barrier, claimed range extending close to 400 miles and prices beyond £110,000, the iX promises to take few prisoners among the market’s existing electrified SUVs. Time to find out if, and exactly how, it might deliver.

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BMW iX line-up at a glance

The iX range is quite a broad one, priced to take on the likes of the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi E-tron at the cheaper end of the model scale, as well as the quickest and most expensive Teslas at the other end.

There are two trims – Sport and M Sport – although BMW’s pricier optional equipment and styling packs (Technology Plus, Comfort Plus, Sky Lounge) could be considered de facto trim levels and are also highly likely to influence residual values.

BMW iX FAQs

Is the BMW iX available as a plug-in hybrid or electric?

Essentially, the BMW iX is an electric car only, designed from the ground-up not to have an internal combustion engine of any sort. Like the smaller BMW i3, it has a bespoke platform that’s not shared with any other model. That means it can have its battery located low down in the floor for excellent packaging, weight distribution and a low centre of gravity, while the electric motors can be mounted more or less directly to the front and rear axles.

What are the main rivals for the BMW iX?

The upmarket EV market has grown considerably over the last few years, meaning there are plenty of alternatives to the BMW iX. Leading the charge is the Tesla Model X, which offers more space and even more performance, but isn’t as accomplished to drive. The Jaguar i-Pace is more entertaining to drive, while the Mercedes EQS is every bit as luxurious as the BMW but is a sleek salon rather than a high-riding SUV. Offering similar levels of comfort and regiment as the BMW is the Audi e-tron, although it's not quite as entertaining behind the wheel.

How much power does the BMW iX have?

The short answer to that is, quite a lot. That’s especially true of the flagship M60, which packs an astonishing 611bhp from its two motors and can rocket from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. Next up is the xDrive50, which has 523bhp, enough for a rapid 0-62mph time of just 4.6 seconds., Even the entry-level xDrive40 is no slouch, using its 322bhp and four-wheel drive traction to complete the same acceleration test in 6.1 seconds.

What choices of gearbox are there for the BMW iX?

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Like almost all electric cars, the BMW iX doesn’t need a conventional multi-ratio gearbox. With their instant torque and ability to spin to tens of thousands of revs, electric motors can cope with just a single gear, which is what the BMW has. Effectively you select drive, then squeeze the throttle and away you go, carried along in one smooth and seamless surge of acceleration. However, variable regenerative braking allows you to alter the resistance of the motor when slowing, almost like going down through the gears in a conventional transmission.

Where is the BMW iX built?

The BMW iX is built at the brand’s Dingolfing plant in Germany, alongside various 4 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series and 8 Series models. The facility also makes the batteries and motor modules for the iX and i4, plus it presses the body panels for all Rolls Royce cars. The factory can trace its roots back to 1905, when it was owned by the now defunct Hans Glas brand, which BMW bought in 1967. The first 5 Series rolled off the line in 1973, since when 10 million BMW’s have been built there.

How many generations of BMW iX have there been?

All-new from the ground-up in 2021, the BMW iX is the first model of its kind from the brand, so there are no predecessors. There’s also not likely to be a replacement for the iX for quite a while either, or a facelift due in the near future. However, a high performance M60 version is due to arrive in the UK later this year, packing an incredible 611bhp (in 10 second bursts) from its twin motor set-up and capable of 348 miles on a charge.

BMW iX First drives