When the BMW iX range was initially unveiled, some enthusiasts felt a bit underwhelmed by its entry-level choice, the iX xDrive40. Unlike its bigger brothers, it’s the only version of the iX that comes with a smaller battery pack. While the lower horsepower output might’ve been overlooked by many, as horsepower isn’t exactly the focal point with luxury EVs, the smaller battery is a bigger issue when range is everything for most EV customers.
What is the BMW iX xDrive40?
The range of the iX is made up of three choices: the BMW iX xDrive40, BMW iX xDrive50 and BMW iX M60. Obviously, the xDrive40 is the baby of the bunch, with the smallest battery and lowest power output. While the latter two are fitted with BMW’s largest battery, at 105 kWh, the iX xDrive40 comes with a 71-kWh pack instead. That’s about 30 percent less, compared to its more kWh-endowed brothers.
Power is down, too. The BMW iX xDrive40 still uses two of BMW’s latest eDrive powertrain units, one at each axle, but with only 322 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. According to BMW, 0-62 happens in 6.1 seconds, which is fast enough for most customers.
Do They Look Different?
Just from the looks of things, you can’t tell which BMW iX is which. No matter the battery size, nor power output, the iX’s true nature remains a secret to prying eyes unless you look for the badge on the read. My tester was wearing Adventurine Red Metallic III, a color that’s absolutely stunning on any car. That hue was complimented by Titanium Bronze accents here and there, too. For example, the door handles were bronzed, as were the window surrounds, but the kidney grille had a background with a bronzeish hue.
Since we were dealing with an M Sport model, the front bumper was also featuring massive black inserts on the sides, replicating the design of air intakes that would traditionally be found on sportier BMW models. Massive 21” wheels completed the package on the sides, with their huge, chunky tires all around. Winter tires to be more precise, as the cold season is in full swing right now.
Fantastic but Frustrating Interior
Unlike the BMW iX xDrive50 I tested a while back, this one featured a more luxurious interior, despite being a lower spec, and the fit and finish are impeccable. The dashboard is covered in leather as well as the door panels and the seats. Everything looks and feels premium. I, for one, am a sucker for the diamond-shape stitching on the seats, and absolutely loved the subtle insert into the dashboard that reminds you that the leather in this car is sustainably sourced and manufactured.
Everywhere you look inside the cabin of the iX, you’re met with quality materials. From the aforementioned cow hide, to the textile add-ons or even the crystal used for a number of applications, like the seat controls or the volume knob or the iDrive wheel.
The cabin feels airy and spacious and it’s all due to the new minimalistic approach BMW is using on its newer cars. The buttons have been cleared out and we now basically have only a curved piece of glass on the dashboard that’s made up of two screens. These screens will serve as the center of operations for all your needs. However, there are some issues and they don’t stem from the fit and finish but rather from the design: it’s not ergonomic anymore.
For every single small task, you have to turn to the center screen. . From adjusting the climate control, to everything else, it’s all touchscreen-based, even for things that have buttons on every other current BMW. Want to increase the interior temperature? Press the screen. Want to change the airflow inside the cabin? Look into the HVAC menu, which is an overly complicated menu built into the iDrive screen. Even a small task such as turning on the heated steering wheel is done via that screen and its controls are buried under three sub-menus. It’s too much. I won’t even go into the fact that the button for the on-board computer is gone from the left-hand stalk on the steering column.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those nostalgia-blinded enthusiasts that’s simply against any new tech and I will admit that the cabin of the iX truly feels special, as if it came straight from the future. But I also think that technology should be helping us, not complicate things. And, the way these buttons and functions are set up, using them while behind the wheel becomes a very distracting and dangerous ordeal.
What’s it Like on the Road?
However, while some bits are infuriating, others are simply brilliant. One such example is the quietness you experience on the road. Even though the BMW iX comes with frameless doors, somehow the wizards in Munich managed to create an utterly quiet cabin, even at higher speeds. Chip in the refined ride and you get an eerily calming atmosphere inside, even on longer road trips.
For the best ride possible, you should spring for the air suspension setup. That comes as standard on the higher-spec BMW iX xDrive50 model but you have to pay extra for it on the xDrive40. Our tester didn’t have it, which allowed me to compare the two setups and there is a slight gap in comfort between the two.
Whereas the xDrive50 felt composed and effortless on any type of road, the xDrive40 has a busier ride, with more vibrations reaching the seats. The good part is that even in this configuration, there are virtually no sounds making their way into the cabin from the suspension, which is as quiet as a church mouse. Overall the differences are slim but, if you’re looking for the comfiest setup the iX can offer, you should definitely tick the air suspension box on the list of optional features.
Push the go faster pedal a bit harder and you start noticing a couple more differences as well. The shove the xDrive40 delivers, even in Sport mode, is not exactly on par with what its bigger brother can bring to the table. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll be driving a slouch.
Even though the iX is a heavy car, even in xDrive40 guise with the smaller battery pack, the 322 horses it relies on are enough for most people. Acceleration in the xDrive40 isn’t brutal but it will be enough for most people out there who aren’t looking to break the speed limit in a hurry.
The best part is that you get to use all the power at all times. Traction is nearly flawless. I did notice a few skids here and there but, considering we were riding on winter tires and the weather outside was rather cold, with temperatures around 0 degrees Celsius most of the time, those were understandable hiccups. Overall, the xDrive40 puts the power down in a very efficient manner and I would’ve loved to try it out on a summer day, with properly warmed up summer tires.
Battery Range and Efficiency
But few people will actually be interested in how this mid-size SUV will carve canyon roads. Instead, more customers care about range and efficiency. So, how does that stack up? According to BMW’s own WTLP tests, this version of the iX should deliver a range of about 372 kilometers (231 miles) with a single charge. Mind you, that’s in absolutely perfect conditions. Real-life results are a bit different.
Unfortunately for the iX, both times I had the pleasure of experiencing it, the weather was cold and winter tires were actually needed. Those are two of the most important aspects to keep in mind whenever you’re talking about the range of an EV. With exterior temperatures around 0 degrees Celsius, you can already tell I didn’t get to travel too far.
Around town, the energy consumption recorded hovered around 25.5 kWh per 100 kilometers covered which was considerably better than the numbers recorded by the xDrive50 version. When you factor in its 71 kWh battery, that would give you a real-life range of about 278 kilometers (173 miles) with a full charge around town. By comparison, the 29.3 kWh/100 km result recorded with the xDrive50 version would net you a range of 359 kilometers (223 miles) thanks to its larger battery.
On the highway, that number changed quite a lot and I was surprised to see the xDrive40 being actually thirstier than its more powerful brother. To be more precise, while the xDrive50 recorded an energy consumption of 28 kWh/100 km on the highway, at an average speed of 130 km/h (81 mph), the xDrive40 went up to 30 kWh/100 km covered. Doing the math, that means the latter would offer a range of about 236 kilometers (147 miles) on the highway, at this pace, about 140 kilometers (87 miles) before the xDrive50 would have to pull off and recharge.
Speaking of recharging, at first, you would think that recharging the iX xDrive40 would take longer than the 50 or M60, simply because it taps out at 150 kW peak charging power, compared to 200 kW. However, if you include the battery size differences into the equation, you’ll soon learn that going from 5% to 80% in the xDrive40 actually happens three minutes faster. Not a huge difference but something to keep in mind. Either way, depending on where you live, chances are most of the time you won’t find chargers this powerful on your route, so you’ll end up using 50 kW or 75 kW ones instead, which is what I did. Recharging the xDrive40 from 20 percent to 80 percent took about 40 minutes and I only had to do it once, during my time with the car.
Is the Cheaper One Better?
Therefore, which one should you choose? Should you save some money and go for the limited-range one or should you take that age-old saying ‘bigger is better’ to heart and splurge on the xDrive50? Well, it all comes down to how you’re going to use the car.
The bigger battery in the xDrive50 definitely helps it cover bigger distances without stopping, at a faster pace too. However, unless you actually need that extra range quite often, the BMW iX xDrive40 should prove to be good enough for most use cases and it still has plenty of power for normal usage. You can configure with all the bells and whistles the xDrive50 brings to the table and maybe even come up with a bit of a better price in the process. It all comes down to how much you want to spend, and how far and fast you want to travel. If it were my money on the line, I’d go for the 2022 BMW iX xDrive40.