First ride: 2021 BMW iX prototype review – Gameingnow

The door handles do without any physical mechanism to operate. A simple touch is all it takes to trigger the electronics. When you do, you’re quickly made aware that this is not merely a dressed up X5. The sills are narrower and the floor is set higher. Look carefully and you also notice sections of the inner body structure are fashioned from carbonfibre. They’re unpainted on the prototype, as they will be on the production version.

There will be two iX models from the outset of UK deliveries in November, both running dual electric motors and four-wheel drive as standard: the iX 40xDrive and the iX 50xDrive we’re in here. Also planned is a BMW M-developed iX M60, although it isn’t set to join the range until next year.

Interestingly, BMW relies on in-house engineering competence by sourcing the electric motors produced from its own Munich-based manufacturing facility instead of going to suppliers such as Nidec, Bosch or ZF.       

We won’t be able to tell you how the iX drives for another few weeks, but the opportunity to ride in the iX50xDrive prototype with the project director for the new SUV, Johann Kistler, confirms it delivers genuinely strong acceleration along with the sort of handling poise you wouldn’t credit from a 2500kg-plus SUV and outstanding levels of refinement.

But in other areas, it also represents a radical departure from just about every other BMW model. This is clear the moment you climb up into the cabin.

Indeed, there is an intriguing new feel to the interior. With its low-set dashboard and high-mounted seats that have greater cushioning than those of other BMW models, you get the feeling you’re sitting on instead of in the new BMW. The standard seats also lack the traditional side support available in traditional BMW models, giving them a distinctive lounge-chair-style feel.

Even with the passenger seat wound down to its lowest setting, via Mercedes-Benz-like controls mounted high on the door trim rather than within the outer base of the seat like on other BMW models, you’re perched quite high.

This is further emphasised by the new model’s rather tall glasshouse, which provides occupants with outstanding visibility. There’s also a flat floor without defined footwells, placing your feet much higher than in conventional combustion-engined SUVs, the X5 included. A panoramic  glass roof adds to the contemporary look of the cabin, flooding it with light when the automatic electrochromatic shading allows.

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