► Production BMW iX5 out in 2021
► Autonomous, electric, connected
► Will follow EV Mini and iX3
Munich’s road to electrification has become an autobahn, as it speeds to gain ground on rivals Mercedes-Benz, Audi and, well, everyone else. The iX3 is due soon, as is the electric 4-series we're expecting to call the i4 – and right now you're looking at the iX5 SUV.
Based on the iNext concept, the iX5 is the largest electric vehicle we've seen from Munich so far, and will surely be a rival to the Audi e-Tron. So what's it going to cost, what will it look like, and do we have any range or performance specs? Keep reading for everything you need to know about the iX5 EV.
Our guide to electric and hybrid BMW cars
What will it look like?
Although all our pictures so it covered in a camo disguise we still have a rough idea of what it'll look like. We expect to see a conjoined kidney grille – a styling signature on BMW’s forthcoming all-electric range – at the front, and traditional BMW styling cues everywhere else.
The picture above also shows an iX5 compared to its ICE sibling, which is helpfully loaded on the trailer above the iX5. The electric SUV looks to be slightly longer than its combustion counterpart, with an extended wheelbase. That’s probably a side effect of engineers squeezing as many battery cells between the axles as possible, but it also means the occupants will enjoy more legroom. Factor in the absence of a transmission tunnel, and cabin space should be positively cavernous compared to the regular X5.
And the interior?
Expect a touchscreen-heavy cabin, with a Mercedes-Benz style double infotainment screen. Our snappers have taken pictures of a very rough interior of the new iX5, and the signs of a tech-infused set up are already evident. Interestingly, drivers will also throw around the iX5 with a two-spoke steering wheel – though it's not clear if this will be a feature of all BMW's electric models.
The iNext concept
The iX5 will be based on the iNext concept car: its technology, design and packaging is a showcase for the company’s future plans, particularly in terms of electrification, connectivity and autonomous driving.
Like the BMW Vision Dynamics concept (which previews the upcoming i4) and the more recent iX3, the iNext is dominated by a tall, conjoined-kidney grille, which looks set to be a signature of BMW’s electric range.
The windscreen flows unbroken into a panoramic glass roof, designed to fill the interior with as much light as possible.
It’s a very big car, with proportions described by BMW as being between the X5 and X6, but it looks even bigger in the metal. There’s no B-pillar, the central strength formed by an overlap between the front and rear doors. The doors themselves are enormous, the rears being reverse-hinged coach doors, and there are no conventional handles, replaced by gesture sensors.
Likewise there are no door mirrors, replaced by cameras in true concept car style.
Being a concept car, the iNext also sits on enormous 24-inch rims. Don’t expect those to necessarily make it to production, as witnessed by our spy photos above…
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Manual and autonomous driving modes
The iNext previews both autonomous and connective tech, and the interior can change configuration according to whether it’s in autonomous or manual control modes.
The concept features Boost mode for old-fashioned human-controlled driving and Ease mode for autonomous travel. In Ease mode the steering wheel retracts slightly and the pedals become flush with the floor. In Boost mode, BMW claims the iNext will still live up to its ‘ultimate driving machine’ strapline, thanks to a low centre of gravity and strong acceleration, although it’s declined to announce projected performance figures.
BMW iNext interior
While the exterior design is domineering, the interior’s clean, uncluttered layout is composed of simple lines and focuses on innovative use of materials and surfaces. BMW design director Adrian van Hooydonk says the interior ‘is not inspired by car design at all – more architecture and boutique hotels.’
Conventional switchgear has been avoided, with many of the car’s primary functions operated by voice control and, intriguingly, touch-sensitive surfaces as opposed to touchscreens. The wooden centre console is a case in point, and in Ease mode its entire surface can act like one large trackpad.
Similarly, the rear seat – which is an asymmetrical bench to encourage occupants to turn towards one another while in autonomous mode – is made from tactile, coarse-cut Jacquard cloth, and it too has touch-controlled elements. Trace your fingers across certain sections and you can skip music tracks, raise and lower the volume and execute various other commands, while illuminated light paths trace the path of your fingers. Very sci-fi.
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