2022 BMW iX review: Electric car can self repair minor scratches

The German brand’s first dedicated electric car has arrived in Australia and it could change the way we deal with scratches.

If it’s what’s inside that counts, BMW has released a winner. The new BMW iX is the brand’s first dedicated electric car and its interior sets new standards for the class.

It can beam live pictures of the cabin to your phone to show you if you’ve left something behind, and an innovative “self-healing” finish on its bold-looking grille promises to change the way we think about minor scrapes and scratches.

BMW says the grille’s polyurethane top coat can self-repair minor blemishes within 24 hours at room temperature, or within a few minutes with a supply of hot air.

Priced from $135,900 plus on-road costs (about $146,500 drive-away), the entry-level iX costs about 10 per cent more than an equivalent BMW X5 and makes the diesel feel a decade old.

There are few buttons in an interior where designers embraced minimalism without venturing into austerity.

Curved displays arcing across the dashboard have a thinner profile and higher definition than the vast majority of new cars, and a simple new steering wheel has fewer controls than past efforts.

There are sustainable materials everywhere you look, including carpet made from recycled fishing line. The electric motors feature a new design with less reliance on exotic metals, and BMW promises third-world child labor wasn’t used to mine its materials.

An enormous glass roof with electronically controlled variable tinting will be a winner at barbecue show-and-tells, joining laser headlights and soft close doors in a $9500 enhancement pack.

Folks who want to maximize their experience might also go for an $8500 indulgence pack with buttons finished in crystalline cut glass that contrasts against the warmth of open-pore wood.

It also adds an interior camera that syncs with your phone to show whether children left their schoolbags on the back seat, and has a wild 30-speaker Harman Kardon stereo with in-seat subwoofers that kick your back like unruly kids.

The other main option is a $3500 comfort pack with heating for the seats, steering wheel, armrest and center console to warm you more efficiently than hot air.

Four-zone climate control keeps everyone cool in a cabin that’s more spacious than the equivalent X5, thanks to a longer wheelbase and thinner seat backs. The boot is smaller than its petrol equivalent, though.

It has BMW’s full gamut of driver aids as standard, and new software makes voice assistance more usable than before.

The entry-level iX xDrive40 sends 240kW and 630Nm to all four wheels, delivering a 6.1 second dash to 100km/h. A 77kWh battery promises 425 kilometers of range.

Spend $169,900 plus on-roads (about $182,500 drive-away) and you’ll get hold of the mid-range xDrive 50 bringing stout 385kW and 765Nm maximums that find the highway speed limit in 4.6 seconds. It also has a far larger battery with 112kWh of capacity translating to a claimed 630 kilometers of range.

The xDrive 40 needs 31 minutes to charge from 10 to 80 per cent, adding nearly 300 kilometers of range. Owners benefit from free energy on the Chargefox network, but are short-changed by a three-year warranty that doesn’t match the five-year guarantees of rival brands. Loyal owners will need time to adjust to the iX driving experience. Unlike conventional petrol and diesel alternatives, you don’t need to spend more money on higher-powered versions to drive a car with snappy acceleration.

The standard car’s throttle response is electrifying, with instant reactions to every flex of your right foot.

Braking and energy regeneration is impressively smooth, as is a well-sorted traction control and torque vectoring system that does an outstanding job getting grunt to the tarmac.

Quick steering is light on weight and feel compared to conventional cars offered by the brand. The suspension does a good job of disguising the wagon’s 2.5 tonne mass, delivering precision made possible by its low center of gravity and chunky high-performance tires. It feels taut but not uncomfortably so at highway speeds and is easy to live with in town.

VERDICT 4/5

Punchy, clever and beautifully finished, BMW’s iX deserves a closer look.

BMW iX xDRIVE40 VITAL

Price: About $146,500 drive away

Power: Electric motor, 240kW/630Nm

Warranty/servicing: 3-year/unlimited km, $1520 for 4 years

Safety: Seven airbags, auto emergency braking, active cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind spot and rear cross-traffic alerts

Thirst: 19.4kWh/100km, 425km range

Spare: Inflator kit

Cargo: 500 liters