The Tesla Model X, the Mercedes-Benz EQC, the Jaguar I-Pace, the Audi E-Tron and now this, the BMW iNEXT. This September has seen a number of teasers and premieres from an array of premium manufacturers, all showing off their new electric SUVs and now it’s BMW’s turn to steal the limelight.
This concept is the first real visual introduction to what BMW are calling the building blocks of the company's future model lineup. The teaser is slightly premature, as it won’t be going on sale until 2021, which is quite a few years behind the competition, but it looks like it might be worth the wait.
“The BMW Vision iNEXT represents a new era of sheer driving pleasure,” said Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “It underlines the leading role Germany plays in the future of mobility.”
The iNext is a similar size to the current BMW X5 SUV and has styling cues which are reminiscent of their current i3 model, but it is anyone’s guess how many of those styling cues will make it to the production model. The iNEXT promises to be substantially bigger than the X5 inside though, due to the battery being under the floor and the car being powered by two smaller motors - one at the front and one at the rear.
The famous BMW kidney grille remains although it has been expanded significantly across the nose of the car and it will now be home to an ‘intelligent panel’. This will be the ultra-futuristic device which enables autonomous driving and ensure pedestrian safety.
There are two driving modes for the iNEXT. ‘Boost’ and ‘Ease’; to drive or be driven. The car can be fully controlled like any other vehicle in ‘Boost’ mode, however, there is scope to allow full eyes-off-the-road autonomy in ‘Ease’ mode which may not be legal in the UK but is likely to be permitted in some parts of Asia. In ‘Ease’ mode the driver can relax and enjoy a nearly silent driving experience in a cabin that is described as a ‘living space on wheels.’ Sounds lovely.
Early indications state that the predicted battery range will be a healthy 380 miles, which is more than the Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla Model X, Audi E-Tron and Mercedes EQC - putting the BMW right to the top of the pecking order for now. Technology moves fast and you would imagine that by the time the iNEXT comes out in 2021, the competitors may have caught up.
There are still very few details released about this next-generation electric powertrain, which will eventually be the platform of every electric BMW model, but we do know that the iNext will do the 0-60mph sprint in 4.5 seconds. That’s certainly rather swift for a big SUV, you would be spending well over £100,000 to get a petrol powered SUV capable of such speeds, but we’ve currently no idea how much the iNext will cost, and to estimate would purely be a stab in the dark.