There are some recognisable BMW qualities about the car’s performance and handling, and some new ones – but they combine to agreeable effect. Those electrically excited motors certainly seem to respond very quickly, even by electric car standards, and they keep working really hard and giving abundant extra thrust at motorway speeds.
The iX xDrive50 would be a very fast car just about anywhere you’d be likely to drive it in the UK. It’s quicker than it needs to be, frankly, allowing for its size. If anything, it could afford to have had slightly more dulled throttle response, just for the benefit of drivability – not that wrapping your head around the car’s sheer keenness takes very long. You just learn not to dive in with big pedal applications, because the car’s part-throttle potency is more than enough to meet most roll-on demands. Get on terms with what those motors can do and you can control this car’s progress and momentum very finely indeed. Drive it bullishly, though, and it can feel surprisingly aggressive and antisocial.
It’s a little frustrating that BMW’s energy recuperation regime forces you to accept the car’s default ‘adaptive’ regen setting if you want the car to fully coast along an open road and conserve momentum. (The manually selectable alternative settings are high, medium and low – but there’s no off, and there are no paddles.) When the car decides for itself to blend up regenerative braking on a trailing throttle, it can be an unwelcome surprise – especially in close-quartered traffic.
We criticised BMW’s decision to go with an off-circular ‘polygonal’ steering wheel for this car with the standard steering set-up, and you’ll know if that’s the sort of move that’ll bother you. It didn’t bother me too much in combination with the iX xDrive50’s Integral Active four-wheel steering system, at any rate, because the progressive pace of the system is such that you need to ‘feed’ the wheel around roundabouts and T-junctions.
The car rolls a little, but corners with pleasing agility and a consistently neutral, stable line and balance of grip. There is a filtered lightness about the steering, but it’s in keeping with a luxury car – and in spite of it, you don’t feel the need to give notice for the car’s front end to respond. The car doesn’t struggle to regain its steady-state cornering composure when unsettled by a bump or an application of power. And there’s just a hint of rear-driven rotation about its lower-speed cornering attitude under power – just enough to make a big car feel BMWish.