What is it?

This will eventually be the middle-sitting for three versions of the all new, all-electric BMW iX. It is the brand’s flagship luxury model and zero-emissions luxury vehicle. The iX has been tested in Europe, but only in the entry-level xDrive40 version.

The iX has twin electric drive motors. These are the electrically excited type that don’t rely heavily on heavy rare earth and metals to act as permanent magnets. There are many technical lures that will tempt you to spend the PS25k extra to upgrade from a 40 to 50.

The usual power upgrade is available, which is quite large (516 vs. 322 bhp). There’s also the larger drive battery (105kWh usable capacity, vs. 71kWh), and associated improvement in usable range (the 50 has been WLTP certified to go 120 miles between charges than the 40). The 50 will be able to charge at a faster rate (195kW vs. 150kW).

Customers who have the financial means to purchase either can make a difficult decision. However, there are many options to choose from. BMW offers standard equipment such as four-wheel active-ratio steering and multi-chamber air suspension on iX50 models. 40-year-olds have to pay extra for these systems. M Sport trim will get you uprated brakes which should come in handy when slowing down a car that weighs 2510kg.

Although the car’s hybrid-material chassis is cutting-edge and the new-generation platform are both innovative, a five-metre SUV with twice the on-board energy storage than the longest-range Nissan Leaf will always be heavy. This car is heavy.

It’s what?

It is large, heavy, and wide. However, it feels light and agile on the road. It’s possible you won’t want to. It’s a luxury vehicle, but it has more dynamic capabilities than you might be used to. It is unlike any other car I have ever seen. One that can be as quiet, smooth, flexible, comfortable, and quick the next. It can do everything. The Audi E-tron S may be close, but the Tesla Model X is far more impressive.

BMW’s controversial current design philosophy is in a higher gear with the iX, and many people have much to say about its styling. This may be considered an indicator of the car’s success at BMW Headquarters.

The reasoning is well-known. This car is meant to be confident, charismatic, and arresting, rather than beautiful. It’s possible to make any vehicle look confident and charming, but it is nearly impossible to design beautiful crossovers, SUVs, and MPVs with awkward proportions. BMW wants cars that are bold, distinctive, and esoteric so they can ‘own’ any effect they have on people. They leave a lasting impression.

BMW calls this a car that has been deliberately designed from the inside out, without any irony. In the press materials, that ‘grille” has been renamed an ‘intelligence panel’. This car is equipped with five cameras, five radar transceivers, and 12 ultrasonic sensors. It is said to be ready to enable level three autonomous driving ‘over-the-air’, if it becomes legal.

Regardless, I didn’t find the styling to be as offensive as some of the recent BMW designs. The iX was a visual representation of the history of the BMW i brand’s development. This looks a lot like a huge BMW i3. Although it’s a simple comparison, just take a look. It features the pinched C-pillar and scalloped lower flanks, as well as the clamshell bonnet. While it isn’t as high-waisted and cabin-forwards than the electric superminis, its proportions aren’t that different.

The echoes inside are even clearer. A chunky two-spoke steering mechanism, a low-sloped dash and a lowish cuttle offer good visibility all around. The cabin has a flat floor and an open platform with a cleverly raised console at the centre. The door closures are exposed carbonfibre. Further inside, there is a large selection of natural and recycled materials. The screen displays digital instruments and information. Are you reminded of anything?

Although it sounds absurd to suggest that BMW would use a slow-selling PS35,000 electric car as its design inspiration for its flagship SUV, the PS100,000.00 techno-flagship SUV is a very similar look to mine. Perhaps they are just using what they have, and adding intrigue to their familial character.

Designing the luxury car of tomorrow is a risk. It could lead to an orphan, something that doesn’t work. BMW has mastered this problem. The iX has less of the inflated grandeur that can hinder you from falling in love with a large luxury car. It is a beautiful place to travel, not only spacious but also smartly and costlyly appointed and yet a little understated. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, inside and out. It isn’t distant.

However, it is extremely comfortable to drive. The car’s standard steel suspension was great, but the xDrive50’s sprung air springs are a step above. You wouldn’t know that our test car was equipped with optional 22in wheels. It is a remarkable car for its motorway performance. It filters out larger, more sharper bumps and lumps in the city. It will only fail on uneven and cambered roads. The body can joggle a little because it is high up in an SUV.

Some of the classic BMW characteristics are present in the car’s handling and performance, while others are new. However, they all combine to produce a pleasant effect. The motors that are electrically stimulated seem to work very fast, even for electric cars standards. They also keep going hard at highway speeds, giving them a lot of extra thrust.

The iX xDrive50 is a fast car that can be driven almost anywhere in the UK. Given its size, it’s faster than it should be. It could have used a slightly slower throttle response to improve its drivability. But it’s not difficult to get your head around the car’s keenness. It’s important to not use too many pedal applications. The car’s half-throttle power is sufficient to handle most roll-on requirements. You can manage the car’s momentum and progress very well once you understand what these motors can do. It can feel aggressive and antisocial if you drive it with a bully attitude.

BMW’s energy recovery system makes it a bit frustrating to have to accept the default ‘adaptive regen’ setting. This is if you want your car to coast on an open road and preserve momentum. There are three settings that can be manually selected: high, medium, and low. However, there is no off and no paddles. It can be a surprise when the car blends up regenerative brake on a trailing throttle. This is especially true in tight-quartered traffic.

We criticized BMW’s decision for a non-circular, ‘polygonal” steering wheel to be used on this car. You’ll see if it’s the type of move that bothers you. I didn’t find it too bothersome when combined with the iX xDrive50 Integral Active four wheel steering system. The progressive pace of this system means that you don’t have to ‘feed” the wheel around corners and T-junctions.

Although the car does roll a bit, it corners with pleasing agility, a steady, neutral line, and balanced grip. The steering is light and has a filtering feel. However, it’s still a luxury car. You don’t have to notice the front end of the car to respond. When the car is unable to maintain its steady-state cornering posture, it doesn’t seem to have any difficulty. There is a slight hint of rear-driven rotation in the lower-speed cornering attitude when under power, just enough to make a large car feel BMWish.

We tested the car in cold conditions but not only below 10deg C. It promised a real-world mixed-route range of approximately 290 miles, with a range down to 260 miles when it was frozen. Although it doesn’t have the kind of autonomy that you would expect from an ultimate electric vehicle, it is still very practical and can be used daily by anyone, even those with high-mileage.

Do I need one?

The iX is a car that has an informality and inclusion that is genuinely friendly and disarming. This is not a car that you want to be seen in or project your status with. But those are not the best qualities for a modern luxury operator. Maybe that’s what the point of the iX. It’s a car that can be used to enrich the daily – regardless of how it looks.

It is fast and comfortable, elegant and enveloping, spacious, practical, versatile, and plenty of range. It’s also made with the best sustainable materials, such as the recycled carpets and olive-tanned skins.

This car is much more than you may realize. If you see an electric car that is big and expensive on the market, it’s likely you are staring at it, whether or not you have the right motives.