Skip advert
Advertisement
Long-term tests

BMW iX xDrive50 long-term test: not a looker, but great in every other way

Final report: BMW's luxury EV strikes just the right note, reckons our editor-in-chief

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Find your BMW iX
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?
Customers got an average £1000 more vs part exchange quotes
Advertisement

Verdict

I wasn’t expecting to fall for the iX as much as I have. It’s a talented EV that blends usable tech, decent efficiency and impressive quality with the sort of drive you’d expect of a BMW. It’s the luxury electric SUV that everyone else has to beat.

  • Mileage: 9,066
  • Efficiency: 2.8 miles/kWh
Advertisement - Article continues below

The BMW iX has been playing my tune for the past six months, but now’s the time to look back rather than forward, with the BMW having – sadly – just left our fleet.

The iX is one of those cars that really gets under your skin, its breadth of talents is so deep. It’s not only an enjoyable car to drive and own, but also very easy to live with, and that comes down to the clever thinking that’s evident in so many ways.

Even the sound the car makes has been thought through, with BMW getting the help of Hollywood film score composer Hans Zimmer. He has produced a sound that doesn’t try to replicate a car’s engine; instead, the nicely judged note changes pitch as you accelerate – and the iX is quick, getting from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds.

The creative thinking extends to the BMW app, which is one of the best in the business: easy to connect, easy to use and full of useful features that turn it into an essential companion. If you’ve never pre-heated your car from your phone, it will change your life!

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

It’ll also keep a check on the charge left in the battery – and you can set a charge time to take advantage of low-rate electricity if your energy tariff supports it.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The best bit is that the phone — or an Apple Watch — also acts as the car key – a good job because the key itself is a cumbersome thing.

Another favourite feature is the mobile phone holder at the front of the centre console. I can’t think of many other cars that solve the problem of where to put your phone in the car – they normally sit in cup-holders. There’s also a wireless charging mat.

However, some things I’m less sure need reinventing. I’ve enjoyed watching passengers try to work out how to open the doors – you push a button, rather than pull a lever. But when you think about it, pulling a lever to then push the door open does seem odd, so maybe BMW is right again?

The maker’s voice control – which can be used for everything from the heated seats to the rear foglight – was a bit intermittent in its reactions. And the panoramic glass roof isn’t massively successful either; it’s clever – requiring the press of a button to go from opaque to clear – but it’s just not clear enough; our days look misty enough as it is.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Mind you, it’s not only me that the BMW has impressed. Passengers love the space inside, the look of the cabin and the view out. Plus the flat floor adds to the feeling of space and is a boon for the central passenger when I’ve had three people in the back.

Advertisement - Article continues below

One member of the family did have a slight gripe, though. The slope of the boot door meant it wasn’t as spacious inside as Sky the Goldendoodle would have liked. She was oblivious to the hatch opening with a wave of my foot under the bumper, though – another bit of tech that worked better on the BMW than it does on other cars.

The big 105kWh battery meant I had to upgrade my old 3kW charger for a smart new Hypervolt 7kW unit to stand a chance of a decent overnight charge, but with impressive average efficiency of 2.8mi/kWh, it meant 300-mile-plus ranges were within reach. I reckon that efficiency would have been better still if I didn’t spend so long on the motorway – although the adaptive cruise control made that easy, too.

So it’s a resounding thumbs up for the iX, a car that I would heartily recommend. And I have, to many friends thinking of taking the EV plunge and one who’s looking to swap out of a Porsche Taycan. It’s expensive, but there’s no better luxury, sporting EV.

BMW iX xDrive50: second report

The BMW iX has the looks to suit the leader of the Galactic Empire

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below
  • Mileage: 8,600
  • Efficiency: 2.7 miles/kWh
Advertisement - Article continues below

According to a recent survey, one in three of us give our cars names – there’s even a National Name Your Car Day (2 October, if you really want to know). I’m usually in the two thirds who don’t bother, but I reckon there’s a certain resemblance between our BMW iX and one of the movie world’s greatest villains, so say hello to Darth.

Being likened to a Sith Lord in Star Wars doesn’t sound hugely complimentary towards the iX, especially because it’s a car that I’ve grown to really admire – although I have to be honest and say that admiration doesn’t extend to the looks which, apologies to Darth Vader, aren’t exactly beautiful.

That’s where my criticism of the iX ends, though, because this is a model that’s a real showcase for electric cars, and BMW’s electric line-up in particular.

As I always tell people considering a switch to electric driving, owning an EV requires a mind shift and more planning than it does with an ICE car. The biggest downside of an EV is always the charging – or more precisely, public networks.

In the nearly six months I’ve been running the iX, I’ve only needed to rely on the public charging network a couple of times – once on an overnight trip to Manchester, the other on another overnight stay in Coventry.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

In the Midlands, my hotel had charging, so I topped up overnight – no problem at all. In Manchester, I spotted that the Q-Park Piazza had 12 EV charging points, so headed there to plug-in. But this was on a busy Friday night and the car park was rammed, with non-EV drivers deciding to park in the charging bays, along with a couple of EVs not bothering to plug in – infuriating, but sadly par for the EV course.

I found an on-street fast charger the next morning, but that turned out to be more expensive than expected, too. I hadn’t checked the parking arrangements – making the assumption that Manchester City Council wouldn’t charge you if you were, er, charging – and returned to the car to find a parking ticket slapped on my windscreen. My fault, I should have checked, but it doesn’t exactly encourage EV usage in Manchester.

The rest of the time, I’ve relied on my 7kW Hypervolt charger at home, some careful planning and the benefit of a realistic 300-mile-plus range from the iX.

As I write this, having charged a couple of days ago, the temperature’s just below 10 degrees and the car’s showing 98 per cent of battery charge left with a range of 304 miles. That’s some way short of the official full figure of 379 miles, but I have got close to that in warmer weather when I’ve been driving in mostly stop-start town traffic, when an EV is always at its most efficient.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Having the brilliant BMW app on my phone also helps to keep tabs on things and provides some great information. For example, in the month of December I made 51 trips covering 503 miles with an average trip duration of 23 minutes. That meant 20 hours behind the wheel, the same as 34 per cent of iX xDrive50 owners. Energy usage is currently averaging 2.7 miles/kWh although the app tells me my most efficient trip netted a return of 3.5 miles/kWh.

The app also lets me pre-heat the cabin – a real favourite with my wife – and will even get the car out of a tight parking space remotely, check my tyre pressures and give me a view from the car’s cameras. It’s one of the very best car apps I’ve used.

I’m also really enjoying the drive of the iX, whatever mood I’m in. When just pootling around, the silence – interspersed with an appealing synthetic crescendo when I’m accelerating – and comfortable ride really impress, as does the handling when I feel like a bit of fun; it’s a BMW after all.

Similarly, on the motorway, I activate the adaptive cruise, sit back and enjoy the ride, only occasionally being interrupted by the system checking I’m still paying attention with flashing lights on the steering wheel.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

I also trust the system enough in stop-start traffic on the A40 when commuting into London (benefitting from no congestion charge in an EV), so I arrive stress-free and pay less than I would have done on the train.

BMW iX xDrive50: first report

All the tech is key to enjoying our new electric BMW iX long termer

  • Mileage: 6,650
  • Efficiency: 2.8 miles/kWh

As Auto Express’s resident geek, I love my tech. Yet even I will admit that some car makers seem to go overboard on gadgets that will either never be used or are so distracting that they verge on dangerous.

For me, BMW has always managed to strike the perfect balance between exciting tech and usability; its iDrive system has been the best since day one. And now, with the company’s flashy iX on my driveway, it’s proving that BMW is still way ahead when it comes to useful tech.

I may be overplaying it slightly, but BMW’s Digital Key has changed my life. For all that BMW does right, its car keys are so wrong – huge, lumpy and uncomfortable. So allowing me to use my phone (which is always with me) as the key is simply genius.

As I approach the car, the lights greet me and then, as I get closer, the doors unlock. The system uses ultra-wideband technology for added security, but I’m sold on the sheer convenience. And it’s quite cool, too.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

BMW’s use of AI has also proven useful. It means the car can sense that I’m searching for a parking space and offer to guide me in (in such a polite voice). The iX has also realised that when I’m leaving my driveway, I tend to lower the driver-side front window to listen for traffic or people, and offers to do that for me whenever it knows I’m there. With a mind on the British weather, I declined the latter.

I’m not the only one wowed by the tech. Passengers and passers-by have commented on the curved screen that combines a 12.3-inch driver display with a 14.9-inch infotainment panel – all perched on top of the dashboard, pointed towards the driver and behind a beautiful glass screen.

The quality of the display is superb and the menus are pretty intuitive, too. Plus BMW’s iDrive scroll wheel is still present and correct, so you don’t always have to reach forward to the screen to control it or input details. You can also use two types of voice control: BMW’s to work the car’s functions, or Siri with seamless wireless connection to my iPhone’s Apple CarPlay features.

One minor complaint I have so far is that occasionally my iPhone seems to connect without the display showing. Disconnecting and reconnecting usually sorts it out, but I’ll check if the car’s software needs updating.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Oh, and when it comes to the phone, there’s actually a couple of places to put it: just at the front of the centre console (makes a change from in a cup-holder) or on the wireless charging pad a bit lower down.

Aside from all the tech, the iX is still very much a BMW, so it’s great to drive. For me, comfort is as important as agility and this big SUV combines both brilliantly. There’s decent space for the entire Fowler Five, although whoever draws the short straw and gets the middle seat lasts about an hour before complaining. Legroom is impressive, while the flat floor helps. And Sky the Goldendoodle fits into the boot – just. If she could speak, she’d tell me she preferred the Range Rover I used to run, but the BMW’s lower boot lip means she can jump in easily.

I’m loving being back at the wheel of an EV, too -– that instant zip of acceleration is intoxicating, while the silence is a joy, too.

The BMW’s big 105kWh (usable) battery means I’m glad I upgraded my home charger to a new 7kW unit from Hypervolt (which is just as cool to use as the car itself), so I stand a chance of a full top-up overnight. And so far, in six weeks with the car, I’ve only had to use public charging once – a top-up when staying at a hotel.

Average efficiency isn’t too bad either at 2.8 miles/kWh, meaning a 300-mile range is within reach, too, although that’s some way shy of BMW’s 380-mile claim.

Model:BMW iX xDrive50 M Sport Edition
On fleet since:September 2023
Price new:£106,400
Powertrain:105kWh battery, 2x e-motors, 516bhp
CO2/tax:0g/km/2%
Options:22-inch Individual 1021 Style Aero Alloy Wheels (£1,485), Interior Design Suite – Amido (£3,250), Laserlights (£2,000), Parking Assistant Pro (£300), Black Sapphire metallic paint (£795)
Insurance*:Group: 50/Quote: £3,822
Mileage:9,066
Efficiency:2.8 miles/kWh
Any problems?None so far

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Have you considered?

Volkswagen ID. Buzz Style long-term test: summer fun awaits for our pricey electric MPV
Volkswagen ID Buzz long termer second report - header
Long-term tests
23 May 2024

Volkswagen ID. Buzz Style long-term test: summer fun awaits for our pricey electric MPV

Honda e:Ny1 review
Honda eNy1 - front
In-depth reviews
20 May 2024

Honda e:Ny1 review

New Cupra Born VZ 2024 review: a great stride for the EV hot hatch genre
New Cupra Born VZ - front
Road tests
17 May 2024

New Cupra Born VZ 2024 review: a great stride for the EV hot hatch genre

Most Popular

New Kia EV3 is a £30k electric car with a 372-mile range
Kia EV3 - front
News

New Kia EV3 is a £30k electric car with a 372-mile range

Kia expands its electric line up with the EV3 – taking plenty of inspiration from the flagship EV9
23 May 2024
Renault Scenic review
Renault Scenic UK - front
In-depth reviews

Renault Scenic review

The Renault Scenic takes a pragmatic and polished approach to zero-emissions motoring
21 May 2024
Citroen C3 review
Citroen e-C3 - front
In-depth reviews

Citroen C3 review

A clever rethink of the small, affordable car theme, the C3 and its all-electric e-C3 twin have the potential to really shake up the market
22 May 2024