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All-electric BMW iX has the range to worry Audi

BMW iX
(Image credit: BMW)

BMW has debuted its upcoming all-electric car, the BMW iX – and it's clear the manufacturer has the environment in mind with this and future models. 

While technically a mid-sized crossover SUV in the same vein as the BMW X5, the all-new iX is being branded as an SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) which seeks to combine performance, practicality and environmental awareness.

BMW says it's also the first model to be based on a "new, modular, scalable toolkit" upon which the future of the BMW Group will be built – so the iX marks something of a new start for the company in terms of what to expect from its future cars.

Launching towards the end of 2021, the BMW iX will arrive in a choice of two variants: the BMW iX xDrive50 and BMW iX xDrive40. We know the latter will start at £69,000 (around $95,000 / AU$120,000), with the price of the xDrive50 model yet to be announced.

First off, the BMW iX is set to be the company’s most environmentally-friendly car to date. BMW says its new electric motors benefit from the feed-in of electric energy rather than traditional magnet-based rotation, meaning they avoid the need to use rare earth materials. 

Both variants are also set to dramatically reduce the rate of emissions produced by similarly-sized non-electric vehicles. The certificate for the BMW iX xDrive40, for instance, shows its global warming potential is around 45% lower than an SAV with a comparable diesel engine over 125,000 miles of use.

BMW iX

(Image credit: BMW)

Of course, the impressive green characteristics of both iX models don't look likely to mean poor on-the-road performance. The xDrive50 comes equipped with two electric motors capable of producing over 500bhp, meaning it can boast a 0-62mph time of just 5 seconds. 

The xDrive40 has an output of more than 300bhp, allowing it to sprint the same distance in just over 6 seconds. For comparison, the new Audi e-tron manages 6.8 seconds.

Both models also boast a superior range to the Audi. The BMW iX xDrive50 registers in excess of 373 miles thanks to a 100kWh battery, while the xDrive40 boasts a 249-mile range and a 70kWh battery. 

The former can replenish its high-voltage battery at up to 200kW, while the maximum charging capacity of the latter is 150 kW. In both model variants, BMW says battery charge can be increased from 10% to 80% in under 40 minutes. Real world usage will likely produce slightly different results, but these are nonetheless impressive stats for a mid-sized EV.

Angry eyes

It's safe to say the BMW iX looks angry. Its predecessor, the X5, wasn't exactly a happy-looking car, but the iX certainly looks more menacing even with its admirable level of environmental awareness.

That's not to say you'll be angry driving it, though. The iX is teeming with impressive interior and exterior tech which looks set to offer a more-than-pleasurable driving experience. 

For starters, the car's kidney grille doubles as an intelligence panel with integrated sensors, cameras and radar technology for the advanced driver assistance systems in the cockpit. 

There's also a panoramic glass roof with electrochromic shading which changes tint depending on the degree of light, and doors open at the touch of a button. 

BMW iX

(Image credit: BMW)

Inside, an all-new hexagonal steering wheel sits beneath the BMW HUD projector, which itself is integrated into the surface of the instrument panel. A multi-screen, curved display stretches right the way across the driver's side and past the centre console, boasting 5G-capable infotainment software.  

With more screens comes fewer buttons, and BMW says it's reduced the number of physical switches by almost 50% with its new iDrive system. The few buttons that do remain accompany a newly designed gear selector in a polished crystal finish, which sits on top of a touch-sensitive wood surface.

Speakers are integrated out of sight, while each seat – designed using a high proportion of recycled and natural materials – comes equipped with internal heaters.

It wouldn't be amiss to say, then, that the all-new BMW iX is something of a beast inside and out. An environmentally-conscious beast, mind. 

Axel Metz

Axel is a London-based Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Tesla models to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and a degree in English Literature means he can occasionally be spotted slipping Hemingway quotes into stories about electric sports cars.