2024 BMW iX xDrive50: First Drive Review

Benjamin Gracias
India’s best-selling luxury EV gets more performance and range. Does it raise the bar enough?

Photography: Vaibhav Dhanawade/ Siddhant Gadekar

There is a quite simple but defining way to ensure the longevity of any product. Get the fundamentals right. There is very little that can go wrong as long as you reach or surpass key parameters. BMW seems to have gotten it right the first time around with the BMW iX, considering that it is the best-selling luxury EV in India, in the face of sizeable competition. There is a new iX coming our way – the iX xDrive50. It features more performance, and above all better range. So what’s the catch?

Is it the design? Not really. BMW designs have been controversial but personally, I find the iX’s styling eye-pleasing in an artistic Boujee kind of way. Despite the large elongated kidney grille, the front end looks clean, unlike other modern BMWs. The closed grille gets 3D stickers that make it look like a conventional grille, a neat trick. The slim headlamps heralded the trend for current BMWs, a step in the right direction. The design seems to have a Scandinavian approach – overall minimalist but with a keen eye for detail. Take the door handles for example. It sits flush with the bodywork but has an old-school, easy way of operation. The doors too are frameless – a select reserve of top-end luxury and super SUVs – like the Lamborghini Urus. Then there are the standard 22-inch wheels which look attractive despite having multiple elements. I quite like the tail lamp design which, when unlit, looks like a slim blacked-out piece of plastic. The only design element I can’t agree with would be the rear quarter panel that feels unnecessarily elongated. Overall the iX is one of the coolest looking SUVs you can buy.

Step inside this BMW and the interiors give off a more Swedish concept luxury SUV vibe, given the Nordic influence of minimalism, Titanium Bronze-coloured accents, untreated light-shaded wood and crystal dials. The cabin places a strong emphasis on a clean layout and that means no door latches (it gets a button on the doorpad instead and a switch-free dashboard. Though I have been a vocal opponent of this trend, I am lenient towards the iX given the ease of use of the digital buttons on the floating curved screen. That said, the physical buttons on the steering wheel could have been more intuitive. The steering wheel is another thing of beauty. Its unique shape makes it feel futuristic while the thick rim makes it a joy to hold. The lack of a centre console accentuates the cabin’s spaciousness as does the fixed electrochromic glass roof which can switch from transparent to opaque in an instant. There is no dearth of storage thanks to the extra space under the iDrive console panel. The cabin is spacious too with ample headroom, knee room and shoulder room. That said the spare tyre eats up most of the boot space which is disappointing as this SUV can be a fantastic tourer.

However, the talking point about the iX xDrive50 is the larger electric drivetrain. Two electric motors offer a combined output of 523PS and 765Nm. That’s a substantial hike of 197PS and 135Nm over the currently on-sale iX xDrive40 and allows for a claimed time of 0-100kmph of 4.6 seconds. That’s pretty quick for an SUV that weighs over 2.4 tonnes. It is impressive how quick this full-sized BMW feels especially in sport mode. The throttle response is quick though it does have a hint of on-off pedal response you see in typical EVs. The best part about this powertrain is relentless thrust at any speed and any driving mode so you are not left wanting for performance.

More importantly, the larger 111.5kWh battery pack (iX 40 gets 76.6kWh) offers a WLTP range of 635km which is substantially higher than the iX 40’s 424km range. What it straightaway does is dissipate range anxiety. The offered range is enough for most use-case scenarios and even for trips into the unknown in India (trust us, we have done it with range to spare). It even gets supports upto 22kW AC and 195kW DC fast charging resulting in a low charging time of around 6.25 hours (0-100 percent, 22kW AC) and 35 minutes (10-80 percent, 195kW DC).

Even more impressive is the battery regen tech that while offering a seamless intervention, is quite efficient, especially in city driving conditions. The electric powertrain is definitely the star of the show here.

It’s a good thing then that the iX 50 has the dynamics to match the performance. While we would not equate the handling to sporty SUVs, the iX 50 does well to counter its weight. You do feel the body roll when you chuck it into corners but it’s well controlled and other than that the SUV impresses with its grip and stability. The steering is a typical BMW affair – well-weighed, precise and feelsome. What’s not expected is the ride quality that’s better than most luxury SUVs and that too despite running low-profile tyres on 22-inch wheels. The iX 50 simply glides over potholes and broken roads. This is thanks to the multi-axle air-suspension setup which feels taut and does not wallow at high speeds.

It’s easy to see why the iX is an EV bestseller. It’s got the looks and the tech and with the iX xDrive 50, it now impresses in areas of performance, range and charging capabilities. At Rs 1.4 crore ex-showroom, the iX xDrive50 charges a premium of Rs 19 lakh over the iX xDrive40. That’s impressive given the kit and larger battery pack on offer but more importantly, the improved range that makes range anxiety a thing of the past. The BMW iX xDrive 50 ticks all the boxes for a luxury EV and then goes on to add some. Talk about raising the bar.

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