BMW sees the introduction of the distinctively styled large SUV as a watershed moment in its transition from traditional internal combustion engines towards an all-electric future, suggesting the lessons learned in its development will influence new models such as the imminent i4 executive saloon and electric versions of the next-generation 5 Series and 7 Series.
The iX is meant to convey a new form of relaxed driving pleasure. With power outputs ranging from 326bhp in the xDrive40 to 600bhp-plus in the yet-to-be-revealed M60, though, performance remains a priority, despite the weight penalty incurred by a large battery pack.
The lack of a number in the model’s name is meant to signal its positioning as the flagship of BMW’s i sub-brand. Although the radical lines of the Vision iNext have been watered down for production, there’s still no denying that this is a BMW like no other.
The basic proportions follow those of the X5. However, the surfaces are super-smooth and a lot more rounded. And rather than serving as an air intake, the giant kidney ‘grille’ is a composite panel that’s transparent to various sensors behind it, which are used for the car’s many driver assistance systems. The slim headlights, meanwhile, use the latest LEDs and can be ordered with BMW’s Laserlight technology.
For the first time on a BMW SUV, the doors are frameless and do away with conventional handles for an electronic mechanism. The polygonal wheel arches – a feature brought over from the concept – form an integral part of the body sides. And there’s a wraparound look to the rear end, with thin horizontal LED tail-lights integrated within the tailgate to accentuate the car’s width.