From £70,9858
Has ride refinement you won’t find elsewhere and is agile for a big car. A few frustrating ergonomics, though

What is it?

If you think the good thing about the BMW iX is that you can’t see how weird it looks from inside it, then you should see inside it.

BMW’s third BEV (after the BMW i3 and BMW iX3) is a big SUV, nearly five metres long, two metres wide and 1.7 metres tall. Not too dissimilar to the BMW X5, then, only more spacious inside.

It’s also more radical inside, and not always in such a bad way. There’s a huge screen across the dashboard centre, but the rotary infotainment controller remains, only now created from what looks like crystal glass and sited on a tall, wood-finished console.

The seat controls have migrated to the doors (not sure why), which are luxuriously padded, and the steering wheel is sufficiently weirdly shaped that, well, I think it’s a wonder they were sensible enough to make it the same on one side as the other. It’s also stupid to hold, because the spokes are right where your fingers would like to wrap around the rim. And the heater controls are now on the touchscreen, annoyingly. You can’t pick normal round instruments, but at least they tell you what you need to know.

I can imagine seeing these in 50 years’ time in the way that we browse 1970s Citroëns in the classifieds now.

2 Bmw ix xdrive40 2021 uk first drive review side pan

What's it like?

It is, though, incredibly spacious front and rear, and it gives you great visibility. But the boot floor is high. Swings and roundabouts. I think more roundabouts? Whatever: in the same way that the i3 and BMW i8 were radical compared with other BMWs, it seems the iX will go the same way.

Our test car is an xDrive40 so has a motor front and rear, making a total of 322bhp, with a 71kWh (usable) battery under the floor that gives a range of 250 miles (officially) and can be charged at rates of up to 150kW. It costs around £73,000 before options.

As a result of all that hardware and the car’s shape, its total weight is 2365kg, and the wheels are at least 20in, so this isn’t an SUV that you will be taking off road. But given that it’s zero-emissions, maybe you don’t have to feel bad about that.

It’s a slightly curious thing on the road, and again in some ways not too BMW-ish.

The ride is incredibly well isolated. You expect an EV to be quiet, at low speeds particularly, and of course it is, but I can’t remember the last time that I drove something that absorbs bumps so well at higher speeds. It’s Mercedes-Benz S-Class good or better. At lower speeds it’s good, too, if marginally less cosseting. What’s more unusual is how responsive, light and quick the steering is.

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Usually in a BMW, there’s a gradual build-up of weight and response as you steer, because the car has been developed to sit for days at 155mph (the iX is limited to 124mph), but here it takes on no additional weight. It isn’t unstable; it just feels very willing to change direction.

There’s no great connected feeling here between steering and car, and that’s unusual in a BMW – even one of the big SUVs. There’s a little roll as you do turn, but while this is a tall car, most of the masses are low down.

That makes it an unusual, although not bad, driving experience. Quiet, removed and faux-agile, with some fantastic and some frustrating interior touches.

10 Bmw ix xdrive40 2021 uk first drive review dashboard

Should I buy one?

I remember Ian Robertson, back when he was BMW’s boss, probably about a decade ago, talking about the emergence of new technologies and new companies and how that would affect or threaten what some now call ‘legacy’ car makers. The advantage the old guard had, he said, is that they really knew what they were doing when it came to vehicle engineering – making cars properly and sensibly. Ergonomically.

I quite like the iX, but sometimes it might be good for car makers to remember that.

3 Bmw ix xdrive40 2021 uk first drive review cornering rear

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Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

Join the debate

Add a comment…
david RS 15 December 2021

Poor BMW.


It was so cool.


Reasonable 13 December 2021

£70k and 2.6 tons? Makes you realise how impressive the i3 still is at half the cost and weight.

lukeski 13 December 2021

I have to say this does seem an awful lof of money, its not terribly quick by EV standards, its has spacious rear seats, but the boot is only about the same as my Peugeot 308. The ergonomics are poor, unless you are very tall or have teenage children the appeal really seems very limited. A top-spec Skoda Enyay is nearly as quick, bigger boot, longer range, and is £26k cheaper, that is a lot of money for better ride quality. Again, i don't understand how you make a nearly 5 metre EV have such a small boot?