Powerful and quick as it may be, this BMW is clearly defined as a luxury operator first and a performance car second. It delivers filtered ease of operation at all times. It has surprising agility, manoeuvrability and wieldiness for a big car operating at low speed. It has high-speed sure- footedness and stability, too, and fluent country road precision and composure about its body control.

In most respects, the iX handles with the assurance of something that is comfortable with its size and role, and that is also devoted to its dynamic aims: putting you at ease, and making you relaxed and comfortable.

The steering is medium-weighted and filtered-feeling. It’s quite direct in outright terms (with less than 2.5 turns between locks), although BMW’s standard-fit Integral Active Steering system gives it more gentle off-centre pick-up at faster speeds than it has when manoeuvring. This clever system tuning allows the iX to feel smaller and lighter than you expect it to when nipping around roundabouts and tight junctions, and more planted and steady when carving a line around a motorway slip road, but it’s nothing new or that rival SUVs don’t also achieve.

However, combine that steering system with a chassis with just enough lateral grip and body control to engender a sense of cornering tenacity, and a torque distribution that makes the rear contact patches work that bit harder than the fronts as the car is accelerating beyond an apex, and you actually end up with a five-metre, two-and-a-half-tonne electric luxury SUV that handles like a BMW. The iX does have a certain understated handling poise, and a quietly compelling agility for something so tall, wide and heavy.

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It’s not the car’s greatest dynamic strength, though, and its sheer size and preference for wide lanes and smoother surfaces means you have to pick your moments to go looking for it.

Ride comfort and isolation

This is where the iX really excels. So it should, you might think, as a luxury car with no combustion engine to rumble or vibrate, as well as big wheel arches to help quell road noise, and air suspension to smooth over bumps. But many high-end EVs have failed to bring really revolutionary rolling refinement to the table over the pastdecade, for one reason or another. The iX nails its potential, and then some.

Even though our test car rode on 22in alloy wheels, it admitted just 58dBA of ride and wind noise into its cabin at a 50mph cruise on the Millbrook high-speed bowl: the same level as Rolls-Royce’s Cullinan Black Badge recorded in 2020, and fully five decibels less than we witnessed in the Jaguar I-Pace two years earlier.

From the driver’s seat, you’re aware of a slight wind rustle around the car’s door mirrors, but very little road roar over well-sealed surfaces. Higher-speed, long-wave inputs are dealt with supremely well without disturbing the car’s level calm much at all, and sharper and more sudden ones are rounded off surprisingly well, too, considering the car’s wheel specification. There is no resonance, hollowness or ‘sproing’ in evidence from the air suspension, and wheel control is consistently good.

This isn’t a wilfully soft-feeling, wafting car; it’s a shade tauter and more poised-feeling than that, but it’s very supple and settled. You’re made aware when the iX’s axles are busier on one side of the car than the other as the chassis jostles and rotates around its roll axis just a bit, but that’s mostly because of the nature of an SUV in which you sit farther above that roll axis than in a lower saloon. For the most part, the iX’s ride is well beyond reasonable reproach.

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Assisted driving notes

The iX’s mock radiator grille, or ‘intelligence panel’, is one of the places where its various sensors (12), cameras (five) and transceivers (12) are housed. The upshot? That, but forthesoftware(whichcan,andmost likely will, be updated over the air – for a fee), this car might already be ready for level-three, hands-off autonomous driving once it becomes legal.

As it is, the car’s front collision warning system is sophisticated enough to detect oncoming traffic when turning right across a live lane, as well as pedestrians and cyclists. Its lane control assist and active cruise control systems also have extended sensory functionality and greater operating reach than other BMWs’.

Our testers found the lane keeping, blindspot warning and cross traffic alert systems somewhat risk averse andoverlyintrusivewhenturnedupto their most sensitive, but the forward crash avoidance and active cruise control systems both worked well.