Oh, how I miss jewelry. There wasn’t a lot of demand to don our blingy baubles during the pandemic, and as we ease back into normal they still don’t yet feel right. But just because we’re not wearing jewelry doesn’t mean we don’t want jewelry, an idea that makes the BMW iX, with a starting price of $83K and a nicely loaded at $105K, particularly lovely: it comes equipped with jewelry you can hold and behold.
The jewelry in this car is just the start of what is truly an exceptional and special experience. The BMW iX all electric SUV is a cocoon of posh pampering. Yes, it’s electric and in that regard, the iX delivers a really wonderful experience. But the pure inventive luxury of this car is a story on its own. It’s enough of a lure to draw a discerning and demanding car buyer over to the world of electric driving and all that it entails. It’s that magical.
When you first get into the BMW iX you may be distracted by the quilted leather interior, the hexagonal steering wheel or the wide curved glass panel that spans the front dashboard and houses the media and drivers information screens. But it won’t be long before the crystal iDrive controller catches your eye; it glistens like a beacon on a stage.
The iDrive controller is a crystal dial set atop a luscious walnut wood panel, and it’s more a thing of beauty than a necessary utility. That’s because the media screen is touch sensitive and enables you to access the same functions as the controller, allowing you to keep the crystal fingerprint-free. Opting to use the controller has its rewards, though— its beveled heft reminiscent of trying on watches at Tiffany. This simple experience on its own sets this car apart, there is nothing else like it.
The wood panel is pressure sensitive and contains many of the car’s controls, from drive modes to access buttons for navigation and media to vehicle height— you can raise or lower the height of the BMW iX. All by tapping the icon on the panel. And you may want to keep playing with the functions just to touch the rich textured wood, it feels so lovely.
Tear your eyes away from the iDrive controller and you’ll discover even more sparkle: the stop/start button, gear selector, volume control and seat controls on the door are all crystal, too. The seat controls, in particular, are constant source of delight; they catch the light and dance a rainbow of reflections around the cabin. It’s like that special moment when the sunlight catches your earring and suddenly you are surrounded by beautiful, colorful light beams. It’s so beautiful.
As dazzling as the crystal controls are, the rest of the cabin is kept in check by simple elegance. For example, looking at the door panels you mostly see leather and cloth panels separated by a slash of chrome. In fact, the panels demurely house a lot of functions: seat controls, ambient light strips, an audio speaker, window and side view mirror controls and two (yes, two) door handles. The main handle is comprised of a button that unlatches the door. Press the button and use the grip under it to push or pull the door open and closed. There’s also a mechanical door handle tucked into the door panel.
The exterior door handles are equally as smart; they are recessed into the door panels and have a touch pad that you can tap to open the door. Simple. Elegant.
Here are more things that I just fell in love with:
Just hit the accelerator and you will feel your head hitting the headrest and your hair sweeping across your shoulder (if you have hair that can do that). You’ll also hear the whirring sound of the iX’s electric motors—two of them, one in the front and one in the rear to power each axle and provide all wheel drive.
Together the motors generate 516 horsepower, more than enough to create a bit of a thrill on the right roads. But any powerful car can go fast. What’s magical here is how efficient this electric system is. I drove all day on my first day with the iX and used less energy than is typical for the miles I drove. I traveled 72 miles, but I only used 55 miles of range. I started off at 315 and ended my day with 260 left on the range.
How did that happen? Well, it starts with B mode. Many electric cars have options that allow you to select various degrees of channeling unused energy back into the battery: while braking, coasting or simply lifting your foot off the accelerator. In the iX, though, pull the gear selector back twice for B mode, and you’re in the most efficient mode. This means that you can actually recharge the vehicle while you’re driving, if you’re in the right circumstances.
And my circumstances were right. My route was from the airport to Pasadena, through the Angeles Crest National Forest and then back to the airport. I’m telling you this because going down hill, as I did when we left Angeles Crest and headed back toward the airport, the regenerative effect was incredibly effective. I regained nearly 50 miles of range, though some of that was due to the crawling LA traffic, which definitely helped. And through it all I almost never touched the brake pedal. It’s that total control—slowing without braking, recouping unused energy, creating more through regenerative braking—that makes electric driving so cool. And with B Mode in the BMW iX, even better. The range and performance were really impressive.
At some point you’ll need a proper charge, though. And with a range of 324 miles on a full charge, you may find that you go more than a day or two between charges. The most efficient way is to charge at a DC fast charge station. So you can do that, BMW is including two years of free 30 minute charge sessions at Electrify America.
Despite being a luxury car with a hefty price tag, the BMW iX comes standard with some pretty impressive features. Like the crystal controls, Eclipsing panoramic sunroof and carbon fiber panels components. Those two things each should add thousands to the price, and while they probably do, they are not broken out as options. That’s just how this car rolls. I like that.
Here’s what you get for the money:
Well, if you can afford it, you shouldn’t go without it. The BMW iX is over the top on so many points, both the pampering luxuries and smartly designed features. The regenerative braking alone was enough to make me feel that yes, I can live life in an electric car and not live with constant range anxiety. But the beautiful details and finishes almost make the fact that this an intelligently designed electric car a moot point. It’s not just a car, it’s jewelry that you live in. A truly exceptional experience.
Disclosure: BMW provided the iX for this test drive but all opinions are my own.2022-08-09T20:00:10Z dg43tfdfdgfd