From its Anthracite headliner to its augmented-reality head-up display, the BMW iX earns a 2022 Wards 10 Best Interiors and UX award for literally wowing us at every turn.
In place of the buttoned-down and businesslike interior to which we’ve become accustomed, BMW instead employs avant-garde designs, sustainable materials, smart user interfaces and concert-level immersive sound to create the iX’s award winner.
Even the steering wheel signals this BMW is something different, eschewing the propeller-brand’s traditional three-spoke design and fat circle for a two-spoke set-up incorporating a flat top and bottom.
“'Wow!' is my first impression,” says judge Christie Schweinsberg. “This brings forth new thinking and ideas in the same way the i3 did almost 10 years ago.”
BMW designers chose fabrics over plastics to cover nearly every surface, incorporating 132 lbs. (60 kg) of sustainable materials in the car’s construction, most of it in the cabin. The door panels are swathed in fabric, as is the instrument panel and lower pillars, areas where we typically see varying amounts of plastic. Even the floor mats are made with synthetic yarn created from recycled nylon, including old fishing nets.
We found the use of a hexagon pattern repeating across seats, instrument panel and speaker grilles particularly fetching, along with the surprising two-tone upholstery shading the seats.
Unlike so many machine-surfaced BMW interiors over the years, metallics are minimal, replaced with wood inlays and crystal surfaces. Catching our judges’ collective attention was the artful use of crystal and wood on the iDrive controller and crystal for the volume roller, all set in wood grain with haptic capacitive switches built into the surfaces.
Our $104,000 tester warmed our elbows with heated armrests and massaged our backsides while also providing plenty of practical and usable space, whether for coddling passengers or hauling home the groceries.
We marveled at the full-color, augmented-reality HUD mimicking the mapping and front-camera images shown in crystal-clear detail on the instrument cluster and navigation screen. “I had a better image there (on the screen) than out the windshield because of raindrops on the windshield,” remarks Schweinsberg.
Out on the road, the iX offers a full suite of safety technology, with judges reporting confident performance from adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping functions.
The coup de grâce? An audio system that literally kept us in our seats even after the journey ended, as we enjoyed the immersive sound that seems to envelop driver and each passenger in a cocoon of good vibrations.
Perhaps it’s taken the advent of electric vehicles to push BMW’s boundaries when it comes to cutting-edge interior designs and a top-shelf user experience. All we can say is “Bravo, BMW!”