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2022 BMW iX Hands-On Preview: 5 Things You Need to Know About The Upcoming EV

You’re going to have to take my word for it: the 2022 BMW iX looks better in person than pictures.

I’m at BMW Canada headquarters just north of Toronto, facing down two examples of BMW’s upcoming all-electric SUV. Here, I’m admittedly still not sold on the front end. The simplified headlights, complete with a quartet of LED eyebrows, take some getting used to. But the smooth shape of the enormous clamshell tailgate, the very cool 22-inch wheels, the satin bronze trim, and the nod to the cute i3 in the window profile all come together under the studio lighting.

Whatever you think of the styling, the iX is a big deal for the Bavarian brand. It brings all of BMW’s electric knowledge to bear on the mega-popular mid-size SUV segment. Size-wise, it sits somewhere between the X5 and X6, but sticks to a strictly two-row setup.

SEE ALSO: 2022 BMW iX All-Electric SUV Has 516 HP, 300-Mile Range

When the iX arrives on the scene early next year, it’ll bring with it a lot of changes for BMW, and the segment as a whole. We’ve covered the high-level bits like horsepower, range, and charging times earlier this summer when the iX debuted. Here, in no particular order, are the more granular details that stood out during an exclusive preview event last week, from a self-healing nose, revamped interior, and a holistic view on sustainability.

It’ll heal itself

No, we’re not kidding: the iX is practically a four-wheeled Wolverine—or Deadpool, depending on your opinion of the styling.

That elaborate panel on the nose that looks like the kidney grille isn’t one. BMW calls it an Intelligent Panel, and it houses the myriad sensors, radar, and cameras required in a modern luxury car. Cleverer still are the thin lines running up and down the IP, which provide low-level heating to ensure all the tech isn’t iced over in colder climes.

SEE ALSO: 2021 BMW M3 Review: More Pedals Equal More Fun

The entire IP is coated in a self-healing polymer. At typical room temperature, it will remove any stone chips in 24 hours. At 60 degrees, it’ll do it in five minutes. Welcome to the future.

Another fun bit of what BMW calls “Shy Tech”: the smaller portion of the BMW roundel at the rear of the iX very quickly pops out when the driver engages reverse. It shoots some cleaning fluid at the backup camera lens before quickly retracting. The logo on the hood, meanwhile, pops open for washer fluid filling.

A new era of BMW interiors

If there’s one criticism we would level at modern BMW interiors is their general sameness. The ergonomics are all fine and dandy, but a 2 Series doesn’t feel far removed from an X6 in terms of design. That changes with the iX.

The interiors in both of these testers are a joy to sit in. The red car features leather in a similar hue, and it extends from the seats up the door panels and along the dashboard. Without a bulky transmission tunnel, the front row is spacious, with a two-level center console including a wireless charger, cupholders, and the requisite iDrive controller. The latter is pretty in a low-key way that the current crystallized controllers aren’t: it floats above the wood, with simple etchings for the primary controls.

The white car is even more impressive. Here, BMW has used a combination of wool and microfiber for the seats, with a diagonal split along the seatbacks. It’s equal parts striking and comfortable. The pale blue material extends along the ultra-minimalist dashboard too, encouraging front-row passengers to reach out and touch it. That hexagonal steering wheel might look a little strange, but it feels good in my hands. It also features three-stage heating, not just a simple on/off.

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Sitting proud of the rest of the dashboard on thin support bars, a curved twin-screen setup runs iDrive 8. Combined screen real estate is 27.2 inches. It’s an altogether brighter, prettier setup than the present system. A quick poke around suggests it’s going to be more intuitive than the sub-menu-heavy iDrive 7 as well. BMW didn’t want us grabbing any video of it in action, however: this particular version of iDrive 8 is an earlier build, and isn’t necessarily representative of the final product when sales start early 2022. A voice assistant is present too, of course; and proves very eager during our preview, activating at a few mentions of “BMW.”

Look up, and the iX features a trick electrochromatic roof, which can go from opaque to clear at the press of a button. The door panels feature the first brand usage of door-mounted seat controls, as well. A strong diagonal design feature is central on all four doors: expect to see this motif across new BMWs, including the upcoming 2 Series Coupe. There’s also soft ambient lighting lining the side windows, giving a welcome glow.

Space in the back is very adult-friendly: again, the lack of a transmission tunnel means legroom in particular is super-generous.

Sustainability beyond just cutting emissions

BMW takes pride in focusing on the sustainability of its products beyond just when they’re in customers’ hands. The Dingolfing production facility in Germany uses only regional and directly sourced green power from two nearby hydroelectric plants to produce the iX, for example. Lifetime greenhouse gas potential for the iX is nearly half that of a regular BMW SUV—sorry, SAV.

Even Dingolfing’s water source is local: the plant’s wells account for over 40 percent of its water usage. BMW says the plant achieves a recycling rate of 90 percent, and 99 percent of its waste is recoverable. Many of BMW’s metal suppliers use solar power, as well.

SEE ALSO: 2019 BMW i3 REx Review

Of course, there are options inside the iX that are kinder on the environment. While genuine leather is available, it uses organic dyes, and there’s also alternative leather-like materials. The cable ducts in the car—there are a lot of them—are made using somewhere between 60 and 100 percent recycled plastic. All in, each iX features roughly 130 lb (59 kg) of recycled plastic.

This is just the beginning for iX

At launch, the iX will be available only in the xDrive50 configuration in North America. That particular bit of BMW branding means all-wheel drive via an electric motor on each axle, and a combined 516 horsepower. BMW estimates a 300-mile (482-kilometer) EPA range. A source told us that early testing has suggested this is a conservative figure, in the same way the Porsche Taycan’s official number is. Considering the enormous 111.5-kWh battery pack, we’re not surprised.

BMW won’t be stopping there, however. The brand already confirmed an iX M60, which will ratchet up the power to over 600 electric ponies. Expect other aesthetic changes too, like bigger wheels and a more aggressive aero treatment.

On the other end of the spectrum, Europe will see an iX xDrive40 anchor the lineup. It also uses a dual-motor setup, but spits out a more reasonable 300 or so horsepower. The BMW PR person on hand would neither confirm nor deny whether the xDrive40 would make its way to our shores, but the smart money says it will. Rear-drive models may even join the lineup, but it’s unlikely in xDrive-loving Canada.

How much will it cost?

The 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 will start from $84,195 ($92,470 CAD). For comparison, that’s nearly $20,000 more than the price of entry into BMW’s similarly-sized (and also five-seated) X5 xDrive45e. (The difference is only $10,000 in Canada, as it comes with more standard equipment north of the border.) The plug-in hybrid X5 is our pick of the current range, offering up to 30 miles (48 km) of range on just electrons. Matched spec for spec, the difference is only a few thousand dollars.

SEE ALSO: 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e PHEV Review: Strong and Silent Type

Maybe your tastes skew more Ingolstadt. The 2022 Audi e-tron S is a very slightly smaller package, producing a close 496 hp via its own dual-motor setup. The four-ringed EV also features a 95-kwH battery pack. Pricing starts from $85,895.

These two pre-production examples ring up at nearly identical amounts. The red iX carries a $114,790 CAD sticker; the white, $110,990 CAD. Both feature the $2,000 CAD Sport Package, which adds the extra gloss black on the lower parts of the body, blue brake calipers, and other goodies.

The 2022 BMW iX xDrive50 will start arriving in Canadian and American dealerships early next year. Then you can find out for sure how it really looks in person.

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