Boombayah: Driving the BMW iX xDrive40

Blackpink’s addictively catchy Boombayah introduced the world to a revolutionary Korean-pop group whose popularity would soon rocket towards the stratosphere, a strong synth-heavy dance track filled with hard-hitting bass notes, rapid-fire lyrics and ground shaking choruses. And as I felt each and every pulsating drum beat reverberate through my body with 560 watts of power courtesy of Mr Harman and Mr Kardon, I knew that I had found it. A musical track to emotionally encapsulate how I felt as I piloted the new BMW iX around town.

Bold, dynamic, confident and unapologetically ambitious. Ladies and gentlemen welcome to BMW’s technological flagship, the iX.

Bold inside and out
BMW is keen to emphasise their “monolithic” approach to the iX’s exterior design, consisting of minimalist body lines, flushed doors and generously smoothed and sculptured surfaces, though there is no escaping the fact that the iX projects an extremely bold and imposing visage with its sizable kidney grille, prominent geometric lines and generous proportions that are almost identical to the X5 in all but height.

A brave design approach upon initial impressions that starts to soften up after taking a step back to engage with the overall car’s pared-back modern surfaces and design details.

Design details which at the same time veil some compelling technological breakthroughs, like the aforementioned kidney grille, blanked off with a 3D effect panel produced through “vaporization using laser and plasma-fired techniques” and coated with a “self-healing” polyurethane film, allowing it to “heal” and repair minor scratches on its own.

Behind the kidney grilles, an array of radar sensors and cameras for advanced driver assistance systems and in the future, fully automated driving.

Along the sides, the iX’s clever placement of blacked-out panels plays with our eyes to present a dynamic rake in its stance and coupled with its flowing roof-line and clean body surfacing, give the iX a visually lighter impression as our eyes are guided across the frameless glass windows towards the beautifully slim pair of tail lamps wrapping up the rear end.

While the iX is still a considerably sizable vehicle, its minimalist lines have allowed it to have a drag coefficient of just 0.25, edging out even the sleek svelte BMW i8 (0.26) in terms of aerodynamics.

Inside, even with the minimalist design approach carried through into the cabin, the BMW iX tells a different story as it trades its strong bold exterior aesthetics for soft-touch natural olive leaf treated leathers, recycled fibres, sustainably sourced wood trim and exquisitely cut crystals to create, by far, the most inviting interior of any modern-day BMW and feels an entire generation ahead of anything else from the Bavarian marque, even besting the current generation 7-Series.

It is obvious that a lot of thought has gone into crafting this beautifully designed interior to create a wonderful sense of well-being for all of its occupants. Though, being that the iX is BMW’s technological showcase, its beauty is, of course, not only skin deep.

From the curved driver-focussed display housing BMW’s latest generation of iDrive created just for the iX, beautifully crisp with a very smooth and tactile interface featuring a full suite of interior climate controls, augmented reality navigation system and an extensively upgraded Intelligent Personal Assistant to work in tandem with its beautifully crafted haptic touch buttons nestled within the centre console’s wooden trim panel, to the largest glass roof ever fitted in a BMW model equipped with Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystals that can alter their transparency at the touch of a button, and as the pièce de résistance, the most extensive set of driver assistance systems ever seen on a BMW.

In the back, a semi-wraparound rear bench seat cosseting you in smooth silent comfort. And as long as your driver isn’t having too much fun behind the wheel, it is very easy to relax as a rear passenger with plenty of space all around in the lounge-like atmosphere. So comforting that I’d much rather be driven around in an iX than any other BMW currently on the market. Such is its level of quality.

Dynamism in build and performance
A level of quality not exclusive to the interior as the iX’s advanced build process shows. Combining an aluminium spaceframe with a Carbon cage utilising carbon fibre-reinforced plastics (CFRP) in the roof, sides and rear to create a chassis that’s highly rigid while minimising weight (where it can).

That said, the iX is no featherweight either with our xDrive40 spec coming in at a rather hefty 2,440kg. But because most of this weight comes from the car’s 71 kWh battery evenly distributed low down in the car’s underbody, it has allowed the iX to have a lower centre of gravity.

Holding up close to two and a half tonnes of BMW engineering are double wishbones up front and multi-link units for the rear coupled to a set of passive shocks which do a surprisingly good job balancing ride comfort and road holding for this behemoth of an EV and even without the air-suspension system, found on the xDrive50i variant, presents a fantastic ride quality to complement its seamlessly smooth electrified drivetrain.

A drivetrain consisting of BMW’s 5th generation of eDrive technology built around a drive unit encompassing the electric motor, power electronics and transmission as a single integrated package.

Enabling a power density 30% higher than previous drive systems with the motor having an efficiency factor of 93%. Channelling 326 electrified horses and 630Nm of combined torque through a fully variable torque-splitting all-wheel-drive system to consistently accelerate the iX up to 100km/h in a very respectable 6.1 seconds.

Though in practice, it does feel slightly less rapid due to the interior cabin’s high level of external noise insulation and refinement.

Hustle this large E-SUV into a series of tight bends and while the weight and size of the iX do start to make themselves shown with obvious weight transfer movements, it still remains largely very tight and composed, able to confidently navigate and power around meandering bends in ways a vehicle weighing over two tonnes shouldn’t.

Technological ingenuity is also employed to haul the car down from speed with an intelligently connected drive management system altering the intensity of brake energy recuperation during overruns and even active braking that is able to adapt to various road situations with data from the navigation systems and driver assistance sensors. 

Drivers are also able to select their own preferred level of brake energy recuperation should they prefer with the highest, strongest setting allowing for efficient single-pedal progress.

Charging up the iX’s offers a very high level of charging flexibility with DC power that can be taken on board at a rate of up to 150 kW. Allowing the iX’s state of charge to be increased from 10 to 80 per cent in around 31 minutes (with the final 20 per cent taking slightly longer to preserve battery life). At a low 10 per cent state of charge, a quick ten minutes of juice from a DC fast-charger can also provide a useful 95 kilometres of range.

Confident
Boldly styled, intricately engineered with the latest techno-gizmos crafted together with the best interior amongst all current BMWs, the iX is for all intents a definitive statement piece. A statement piece that confidently asks us to redefine what we know about luxury because “i” is the revolution.

Unapologetically ambitious
Boombayah.

The BMW iX is now available in Singapore at Performance Motors Limited. Book a test drive today.

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