X claims the spot
CAR|January 2022
BMW’s electrified follow up to the i3 promises much. We grab seat time in the flagship xDrive50 to see how the electric arms race is progressing
Sean Parker
It’s all happened rather quickly and there’s a whiff in the air that it might catch us out. The “it” we’re referring to is the wave of new electric cars destined for our shores over the next 12 months from Germany’s luxury car companies.

BMW has played its hand by introducing the brand-new iX flagship electric SUV. It looks unlike any model the Bavarian firm has built and ushers in a new era in design, electrification, digitalisation, sustainability and autonomous driving. The iX is the carmaker’s second battery electric vehicle (BEV) on sale in South Africa (in dealerships before the end of the year) since the i3 almost seven years ago.

From a design point of view, the tall kidney grille is almost entirely blanked off. It’s unquestionably the focal point of the exterior. On our white press unit, the black grille featured intricate goldcoloured inserts that contrasted with the exterior hue. Dig a little deeper and it has a surface of innovative manufacturing techniques that incorporates camera and radar sensors. Possibly the most interesting aspect of the grille is its “selfhealing” properties; the coating forms a protective barrier and “fills” the surface scratches via heat such as direct sunlight. In colder climates, a hairdryer works best to initiate a quick fix. The iX’s design is an evolution of the i3, and the sooner one understands that the easier the design is on the palette.

To put its proportions into perspective, it’s the size of a BMW X5, just a little shorter in height. It sits 203 mm off the ground and, subjectively, looks far better in the flesh than it might in pictures. The white paper was simple: build a fully electric sports activity vehicle with enough room for a family and their luggage. For the record, BMW claims a 500-litre boot capacity that increases to 1 550 litres with the rear seats folded; this is around 150 litres less than an X5 as the motor encroaches on the rear axle that raises the boot floor.

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