Is it just me, or has time flown past in the post-Covid-lockdown world? There has been a slew of new cars, and we’ve all been busy with the latest and the greatest, but it definitely can’t be only two years since BMW introduced what was essentially its answer to the Mercedes-Benz EQC: the iX. Following an exceptionally strong year sales-wise, BMW has been quick to update its all-electric iX for 2024, and as the flagship all-electric BMW SUV, it has many tricks up its sleeve, some of which are new. We took the car out on an emission-free drive to get a first-hand feel of what it offers.

Priced at ₹1.21 crore, ex-showroom, the BMW iX is of course luxurious, but the way BMW has prioritised comfort and luxury – by focussing on things that matter to the end user – is worthy of applause. The interior is understandably packed with features: ambient lighting to set the right mood, leather seats with massaging features, a newly introduced air suspension to ensure no bumps are felt in the cabin and advanced connect drive tech to keep up with even the most well-loaded of luxury SUVs in this price bracket.

Interior design

The fit and finish are top class, but where the iX really stands out is with material choice. It has crystal buttons, and grain wood on the centre console, in addition to leather. This is interior design at its best in the segment, only improved by how well it’s put together. The aforementioned front seats are quite superb, but there’s elevated comfort at the back, with the well-padded rear seat offering as much comfort as a couch.

While many have, from the comfort of their couch (and not the rear seat of the iX) commented on this all-electric BMW’s rather controversial styling, it must be noted that it looks better in the flesh. Polarising it sure is, but an eyesore it definitely isn’t. It is BMW’s idea of moving away from the norm, to offer future-ready styling that’s not held back by conventional design. The iX attracts eyeballs unlike anything else, but at the same time, it doesn’t look over the top, like some other cars. Maybe we’ve grown used to cars with massive grilles, or it’s just that we were too eager to pass judgment. Regardless, it’s become BMW’s best-selling all-electric SUV, so something is working.

The design is executed so well that the iX seems to be hewn out of a large, seamless surface. The standout feature is still its grille; it follows BMW’s Shy Tech philosophy, and adds to the aforementioned seamless appearance. The grille turns into one, large, closed unit and effectively adds to a clutter-free front end. A similar effect is achieved with the help of the iX’s flush door handles, frameless windows, and a pair of the slimmest headlights ever fitted to a BMW. While an SUV and not a coupe per se, the iX has a neatly tapered roof, which in BMW parlance is termed ‘Streamflow’. While that sounds like a new line of pens from Uniball, it helps turn the iX into what can be best described as a work of automotive art in motion. I thought I’d say it about a modern BMW, but the iX is certainly an aesthetically pleasing one — now more than ever.

The infotainment system, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, has a 14.9-inch touchscreen and an 18-speaker Harmon Kardon system

The infotainment system, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, has a 14.9-inch touchscreen and an 18-speaker Harmon Kardon system

Big on tech

The high level of tech on offer doesn’t surprise, but it’s good to see how well it’s been integrated without hampering the car’s inherent sophisticated appeal. The infotainment system, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, has a 14.9-inch touchscreen and an 18-speaker Harmon Kardon system. You’ll see the term Shy Tech return here; it’s BMW’s idea of keeping all the tech hidden, working flawlessly in the background to make the occupants’ lives better. The high-quality speakers are ‘invisibly embedded’ for the same effect.

Joy to ride

Where BMW utterly fails to hide its tech is in the iX’s surreal performance. Anyone who’s driven even the fastest of cars will be able to appreciate the effort that must’ve gone into making the iX such a joy to drive. The dual motor setup in the iX xDrive40 that we had on test has a combined output of 321 bhp and a colossal 64.24 kg-m, enabling the SUV to accelerate to 100 km/h from standstill in just about six seconds. The instant torque available from the electric powertrain is addictive, to say the least, but by choosing a suitable driving mode (there are five, namely Eco Pro, Sport, Comfort, Adaptive and Personal), you can tailor how the iX behaves. The first three are predefined, whereas Adaptive allows the car to learn, and Personal gives the driver the chance to fine-tune each setting.

The majority of electric cars, even at the lower end of the market, have become so good with efficiency and battery tech that range anxiety isn’t so much of a concern for buyers any longer. The iX is no different in that regard; it comes with a 76.6 kWh battery pack, which offers a claimed range of 425 km on a single charge. Charging the iX isn’t going to be a nightmare, either. The 11kW AC charger is said to take 7.25 hours if you were to fully charge the car from 0 per cent. DC fast charging is a completely different ballgame, with 10 minutes of 150 kW charging offering 95 km of range. Keep it plugged in for 31 minutes, and the state of charge will go from 10 to 80 per cent, claims BMW.

The German carmaker mentions that the interior is made with sustainable materials, the car’s production is done using 100 per cent renewable energy, and there’s about 20 per cent recycled plastic used in the iX. All that is great news, but how different is it from the BMWs that we’ve driven and fallen in love with? Not very much, to be honest, apart from the fact that it’s not a ‘conventional’ BMW. On the move, it hides its dimensions (including its weight) well. The 50:50 weight distribution and its AWD system ensure that driving fun isn’t lost out on, and the upmarket cabin is easily one of the best places to be, not just among similarly priced cars but also modern BMWs.

Its positioning as a luxury electric SUV is only strengthened further by its unconventional design, commendable performance and spacious, extremely comfortable interior. The way tech is blended into everyday driving, without losing the overall minimalist theme both on the inside and outside, is what sets the iX apart. It doesn’t try to be different just for the sake of it; it is genuinely unlike others in the market.