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    BMW iX50 First Drive Review

    Authors Image

    Desirazu Venkat

    5,079 Views

    Why would I buy it?

    • Explosive performance
    • Fantastic ride quality
    • Massive Range

    Why would I avoid it?

    • Touchscreen is fiddly to use
    • Spare tyre consumes boot space

    What is it?

    Left Front Three Quarter

    BMW’s flagship electric SUV is back in India, but now with an increased range and faster charging capacity, in addition to the big presence and a claimed supercar-like 0-100kmph time. Appearance-wise, nothing much has changed from the iX40. You get the EV version of BMW’s signature kidney grille while the wheels are massive 22-inch units with a very fancy-looking star pattern that gives the car a futuristic appearance.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    Finally, at the back, you get the BMW signature wrap-around tail lamps but in a slim avatar and, of course, as full LEDs. The badging is minimal but given the car’s size, you are never going to doubt what vehicle you are looking at. While some of the earlier BMW electric models had elements of its ICE legacy mixed with electric elements, this one is all-electric and gives us a nice insight into what to expect in BMW’s future electric division.

    Is the cabin of the BMW iX50 any good?

    Dashboard

    As is the case with any new BMW, especially one that’s a new generation and a new class of vehicles, it’s a veritable tech fest. What’s more, this tech fest is wrapped up in a new philosophy of minimalism that looks amazing, but it hasn’t translated particularly well in a few quarters – especially when it comes to man and machine interaction.

    Left Side View

    Let’s start with what works and that’s the overall appearance. It’s almost what people would have imagined future cars to be like — with fewer interface elements to cover all the functions of the cabin. The seats, dashboard, or, for that matter, all the touch surfaces have been trimmed out in high-quality materials, all made from recycled items as has become the norm and fashion, especially for luxury manufacturers. Everything looks and feels nice to touch and has an air of futurism to it. We, at some point, imagined that the future would be all about bland colours and sterile surfaces but BMW’s approach paints quite a nice picture. Space is not an issue for any of the four occupants as you get more than enough headroom, legroom, and shoulder room. The floor, despite having a massive battery pack underneath, is not high and you have a decent level of under-thigh support.

    Second Row Seats

    In past BMW layouts, most of the functions would have had buttons of some type. Now they have been consigned to the touchscreen system which aids the minimalist look but makes it a confusing and, at times, frustrating system to use. You spend way too much time hunting for functions and this becomes even more obvious if you are using wireless phone mirroring and have to switch back to the BMW OS to access other functions. It’s a similar story with the steering controls, especially the scroll on the right which also works as a button for some functions, leaving you to hunt for their respective functionalities.

    Steering Mounted Controls

    While the screen is not intuitive, the panoramic sunroof is quite straightforward. Instead of opening up, it has an electrochromic function that allows it to switch between opaque and transparent at the swipe of a button. It adds an incredible amount of light to the already airy cabin and does well in terms of adding theatrics to the overall package.

    Open Boot/Trunk

    The boot is big and spacious, but thanks to our regulations, it loses practicality due to a massive spare wheel being locked into the floor. Having said that, the car runs tubeless tyres which make a strong case for travelling without a spare if you need the boot space.

    Is the BMW iX50 good to drive?

    Right Side View

    Just the numbers alone make a nice case for the iX50. Its dual electric motors produce 523bhp/765Nm and when you put the pedal to the metal, it can hit 100kmph in 4.6 seconds. That’s fast normally but more so when you consider that this BMW weighs close to two tonnes! If you need to feel the full force of that 765Nm, just put the car in Sport mode and lay the pedal to the metal. It shoots off in a cartoonish manner, taking you completely by surprise, and even has the sound effects to match your instant turn of speed. The throttle is so sensitive in the Sport mode that it becomes fun just to leap forward when you get a gap in the road.

    Left Side View

    Now, instead of calling them modes, BMW has branded them moods, and depending on the mood, the car alters the intensity of the throttle. But even in the most sedate of moods, the throttle is still very responsive and you are never short of performance.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    Two places where the iX as a whole shines are the steering and the ride quality. It’s light at low speeds but weighs up beautifully as you up the ante. For something this large, it is pretty accurate with quick direction-changing ability which is confidence-inspiring when you have a large car. Despite the large wheels, not much effort is needed to make U-turns or parallel park and you can go from lock to lock in under three turns. Lastly, it’s a rectangular steering which, at first, seems odd to use but there is no loss of functionality, especially when you want to catch the steering while it is self-centring.

    Front View

    BMW has managed to get the ride quality spot on, and this is enhanced further when you throw in the air suspension that this car has. It wafts along in a wave of comfort and even when the going gets tough you don’t feel the bumps and imperfections, more so due to the massive wheels and high ground clearance. A word of warning though, it might have the ability to squash the bad roads under you but with 275/40 section tyres, you must tread with caution, especially if it’s a pothole with rutted edges.

    Should you buy the BMW iX50?

    Front View

    Yes. It’s tech-laden, has a massive presence, is incredibly fast in a straight line, and is well-appointed for the money it demands. No, because the touchscreen is not very intuitive to use and also the fact that it is an EV, means you have to deal with whatever infrastructure issues the country throws up at you in the present scenario.

    Photography: Kaustubh Gandhi

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