BMW iX first drive review: “It’s not as bad as it sounds! “
BMW transported automotive journalists from around the world to Bavaria to test out its new iX battery-powered electric SUV. Fortune Hannah Elliott contributor was part of the press tour and wrote about her experience in an article with this rather ominous headline: “BMW’s new electric SUV is ugly and drab, but its appearance can be deceptive.It’s overwhelming with slight praise, as my old Irish grandmother would say.
She continues with this assessment: “It’s not exciting to drive, like a sports car. It doesn’t even have the styling cues of the BMW X6M… But it does offer a well-built, well-appointed cabin and quick handling for its spacious size. The iX is like a just plain decent person you could try dating because, why not? It offers a competent way of navigating everyday life for the faithful of the BMW brand who find themselves, against all expectations, curious to equip themselves with an electric vehicle.
Let me start by saying that my passion for BMWs started with the 2002 Tii which first appeared at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1973. I fell in love with the grip, the line and the lead from the company’s marketing slogan “The Ultimate Driving Machine”. I watched the movie The last race over and over again just to see and hear this magnificent 1956 BMW 503 Cabriolet roaming the back roads of Portugal. Suffice to say that I have always been a fan of Bavarian cars. So it is with a heavy heart that I watch the new cars from BMW come onto the scene.
I’ve been scathing in my disdain for the enormous double nosed grille featured on the iX, and I’m not alone. A wire on the car to reddit received 179 comments, mostly from people who hate the look of the new car. Only about 10% of those reviews are from people who think driving a car that looks like Bucky Beaver is a good thing. The thread contains Photoshopped images of what the car might look like with a more traditional front end styling. Check it out.
Elliott writes: “I have found that – despite its looks – the iX is a competent and practical crossover style electric vehicle that fully delivers the excellent craftsmanship and quality of BMW.” She didn’t like the hexagon shaped steering wheel and found the back of the car to look a lot like a van. Other dislikes included the lack of an actual key. Access to the car is managed via a smartphone application. What happens if the phone is lost or low on battery? “It would be a problem,” admitted the cheerful factory representative.
Elliott liked that the dashboard retained certain buttons and switches rather than relegating all controls to a space on the touchscreen, a not-so-subtle dig at Tesla. She says the car accelerates with authority and steers like any other heavy vehicle with high ground clearance. She appreciated that the interior pampered the driver and passengers in supreme comfort worthy of BMW’s current image as a German luxury automaker for wealthy sybarites.
Ultimate driving machine? Barely. Where once the company made soul-stirring performance cars, it now makes 4-wheeled BarcaLoungers that numb the senses rather than a euphoric feeling behind the wheel.
Some people will pay any price (just under $ 85,000 in the US) and bear any burden, as long as that blue and white cockade is on the hood of their car when they park in the country. club. But is that enough to keep the BMW lineage intact? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.
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