Home » Now That BMW iXs Are Driving Around: Do You Think It Looks Better Or Worse Than Initial Pictures?

Now That BMW iXs Are Driving Around: Do You Think It Looks Better Or Worse Than Initial Pictures?

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Sometimes as a journalist, you have to fall on your sword and admit that you were too harsh, and that’s what I’m doing today. Back when BMW debuted its iX, I initially kept my stance on its rather polarizing looks (giant grille, squinty headlights) rather neutral, realizing that I should give the car a chance. But then BMW did some bizarre marketing, as the brand is wont to do, and I let ’em have it (well, a little, at least). Now it’s time for me to just say: I was a bit harsh. The BMW iX flagship electric SUV is quite stunning in person.

Look at how fairly I covered the BMW iX when it debuted in November of 2020. I didn’t even mention that face in my headline!:

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Hell, my conclusion paragraph was rather mild, too!:

This is a big deal for BMW. As the world transitions over to EVs, brands like Tesla, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Jaguar and Audi have put lots of focus on offering a compelling crossover SUV option. It’s an important segment to be in, and based on the little information BMW has given about this new iX—set to hit the U.S. market in 2022—it seems the brand is going to have a genuine competitor.

I’d just like to point out at that readers were not so kind. Here are the first few comments on my article:

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Wow those are hilarious. My favorite is “Bangle looking like Michelangelo right now.” So good!

Anyway, I was fairly nice on that initial article, but then came a weird marketing campaign, and I just had to land a little jab:

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Here’s one of my main points in that article about BMW’s seemingly-defensive new catchphrase “What’s your reason not to change?” and specifically its use of “OK Boomer”:

BMW is so keen on defending its iX that the brand tweeted the marketing slogan preceded by the expression “OK, Boomer” (see below). This seems like an even more questionable move than simply trying to convince people who find the design ugly that they’re being too narrow-minded. After all, despite their copious flaws as a group, Baby Boomers do have one thing that younger generations don’t: Money. And lots of it.

Dismissing that demographic with the phrase “OK, Boomer” seems like a questionable call to make, especially for a luxury automaker

Someone on Twitter answered BMW’s new catchphrase with pure comedic genius:

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And BMW responded! “In order to go new ways you sometimes have to try new looks” was the brand’s response to “Because I don’t want to drive a slit eyed Allegro with squirrel teeth.”

Bold on BMW for responding, there. The right move? I don’t know. I did write about it, so perhaps!

Here’s a bit more from that article in which I criticized BMW’s defensive marketing/PR strategy:

It’s worth mentioning that the campaign “What’s your reason not to change?” isn’t just about the iX’s appearance, it’s actually focused on folks’ reluctance to adopt electric cars. On the campaign’s main webpage, you’ll find BMW’s answers to a number of questions that people have about EVs and their limitations. But of course, there’s still plenty about the iX’s design. Here’s a quote:

You will always have plenty of reasons to change.

But the truth is: It’s always easier to find a reason not to. It might not be the best time for you right now, or perhaps you find yourself in the wrong place. You might think that technology still hasn’t reached its peak, or that the design looks strange.

Here’s another:

The monolithic design with few, very precise lines demonstrates character and gives the car a modern appearance. The BMW iX is bold and yet clean and elegant.

Domagoj Dukec

Head of BMW Design

And another:

The BMW iX shows how we can give new technologies a very modern and emotional design.


Adrian van Hooydonk

Senior Vice President BMW Group Design

After all of that — after the vicious criticism and BMW’s many attempts to stop the bleeding — time, the decider of many controversies on this earth, has seemingly sided with…BMW!

Obviously, this is not an opinion shared by everyone, but as someone who was initially critical, I’m perhaps less inclined to admit this than others: The iX looks quite nice in person. I didn’t think this could be possible, even after a businessman at the German Car of the Year event in Germany told me this after having purchased his own — but it turns out that he was right.

You know who else was right? Autopian cofounder Jason Torchinsky, who wrote this way back in September of 2021:

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[Editor’s Note: I stand by this still. This is one of those cars that just works better in person than in pictures. None of the critiques are really wrong, they just don’t seem to matter as much when you’re standing next to the thing. – JT]  

I say this because I recently spotted an iX in the Ace Hardware parking lot, and I thought it looked great in person — sharp, futuristic, sleek. I’m into it, especially in this color:

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I’d initially planned to toss this article into the trash, as our very own expert designer, Adrian Clarke, threatened me with things too diabolical to even mention, but I recently spotted this tweet from a car photographer I follow in Twitter, and now I feel like I’m less alone, here. Plus, I’m hoping Adrian doesn’t see this article:

Is the world coming around to the iX? To those of you who’ve seen one in person — how are you feeling these days about Munich’s flagship electric SUV?

[Designer’s Note: Hi, it’s Adrian Clarke, The Autopian’s in-house car designer. Nice try, David. No way you were publishing this without me noticing.

Readers, I think all this worrying about moving has reformatted David’s head, rewriting the bit that controls the eyesight. I mean, I know he wears glasses but I had assumed as he can drive his optical cortex was functioning somewhat, but it appears not. There’s so much wrong with the appearance of the iX it’s hard to know where to direct the spleen juice first. Remember when you were little and tried on your dad’s suit? That’s what the body of the iX is like. Flabby and oversized and creased in all the wrong places. There’s competing shapes fighting each other all over the place, the wheel arch flats are stolen from a completely different car making it look under wheeled and the C pillar is all wrong. There’s corners where there should be curves and the whole thing shrieks of inconsistency inside and out. The color ways are bad, the wheels are terrible and there is not one thing I can find about this eyesore that I like. Put the entire production run into a burlap sack and chuck it into the Danube so no-one should ever have to gaze upon the horror ever again. -AC]. 


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96 Responses

  1. Well, IMHO it’s “Peak Ugly”, it’s going to go down as a mystery car at a future date, like, “How in the hell did something that looks like that get approved?”

    I’m not surprised Torchinsky doesn’t hate it, but he loves loves loves ugly vehicles.

  2. For once, and it’s possible that this is the only time I will ever say this, I completely agree with Adrian’s analysis of this monstrosity. Ugly, ugly, uuuuuuuugly. And it’s not just the buck-tooth horror in front, it’s also all the other elements so eruditely pointed out by Mr. Clarke.

  3. The current Silverado was ugly as sin when it came out and people just….got used to it.

    The BMW is the same. It’s also ugly as sin but people will get used to it.

    That doesn’t mean it isn’t ugly. It just means people adjust to the ugliness. Then in 30 years we will wonder what on earth we were smoking

  4. It’s not just that it’s vomit inducing to look, way too vulgar inside (I don’t think I’ve ever before used work vulgar) and the trunk is a joke for vehicle of it’s size.

  5. Nice try, DT (and JT), but I’m with Adrian here.

    Only redeeming factor is that there really is a LOT of ugly new cars out there, so seen in traffic, the iX is just a drop of ugliness in a flood of ugliness.

  6. I saw one of these yesterday in gray (of course…). In person it’s not as tragic as in pics. From the sides and rear, it’s just a blah small SUV. The beaver teeth front isn’t as bad as bad as on the 4 series. It’s still poor styling, just not as bad as the pics make it seem.
    There are far more attractive choices, and the Macan EV is coming soon.

  7. Ahhh, the BMW Angry Birds pig snout; hideous. The Nissan floating rear pillar just adds to atrocity. I fell in love with BMW design as a teen in the 80’s. They have killed any desire I have to ever own one. I am sure BMW is crushed as they laugh all the way to the bank with 2022 being their most profitable year ever.

  8. Ok, from the side it isn’t too bad because…ehh, SUV. Change the taillights and the butt end looks like an Acura for good and bad.

    But I’d bet that if someone with actual ability were to ‘Shop a grille and lights from, say, a 2010 BMW it wouldn’t look too bad. The “face” makes everything look terrible.

    BMW says the design is emotional. If we can’t use disgust as an emotion, then I’ll go with angry. Because form used to follow funtion at BMW, and the function was magical. Now I just wish their cars would disappear.

  9. Like a lot of folks, I feel this is a designe that is very color dependent. With the right color, it hides sins and is fine-ish. Wrong color, blech….

  10. I test drove one and I think it looks fine. That being said, I’m a function over form kinda person.

    I was blown away by the test drive. The suspension is perfection and the car is built like a tank. The interior is luxurious. Only negatives I can point to are the lack of frunk and the bizarre gear selector.

    I own a Model Y which has a terrific drivetrain but subpar suspension, software, and build quality. I would switch to an iX in a heartbeat if I could afford it. I was barely able to afford the Model Y and the iX is just too pricey for me.

  11. I saw one drive past me (so I only got to see it for a few seconds), and my first thought was “wow, it’s even uglier in person!”
    I’m not a designer, so I can’t give you a well thought out reason, but the way the nostrils cut all the way down through the bumper just makes it look like an after-thought to me. Like they designed a whole car, and then decided to supersize just the grill.

  12. I used to be a fan of BMW and their engineering; I thoroughly enjoyed my 2001 540i 6-speed when I lived in Germany, and did drive my buddy’s M5 wagon a lot, including a couple Hockenheimring outings.

    Their recent (last 2 decades) sharp decline in engineering (trading reliability for cheapness, like forgetting how to make valve seals and cooling systems, and turning main bearings and turbos into consumables) along with the commitment to nausea-inducing hideousness have insured I won’t own one of their cars again.

  13. I agree with the “looks kinda okay in person”. You know what? At least it’s interesting and there are some angles which I find almost likeable. Unlike the i4, which is hideous from every conceivable dimension, because it’s the essence of soulless corporate boredom.
    I’d sooner want an XM than…….. (quickly ducks from the wrenching key thrown at him by Adrian) ha, missed me!

    With so many actually horrible cars out there, if you offered me the iX as a company car (please do!), I’d be really happy. If I wanted to go electric with my own money, I have no idea what I’d do. Maybe the Ioniq 6? That has some real first gen Mercedes CLS vibes about it, which was my dream car as a teen.

    But man, speaking of cars which look better in person, I just saw the new Civic in pearl white and wow, that thing has some presence!

  14. I think these still look fucking hideous, and yea,I’ve seen plenty of these in person. I always try and avert my eyes and walk calmly away from them. Shit

  15. I still think it is objective ugly, but it is so big that a normal person looking at it at normal distances won’t be able to see the all the foulness.

  16. It honestly looks like what would happen if someone in the 2000s wanted to make a legally-distinct knockoff of a BMW. It is horribly cheap looking, inelegant, doofy… bleh.

  17. David! Adrian! Stop it, both of you. YOU’RE RUINING CHRISTMAS!

    As for the car: eh. It’s definitely designed to be seen in detail — up close and while stopped in traffic, mostly — so there are lots of small flourishes that draw the eye (it’s the chevrons in the head-on view for me). And from the rear 3/4 view, it’s not bad at all. No, it’s not a “cohesive” design, but I would argue it’s not meant to be. It’s a car for short attention spans.

  18. Up front i will say that BMW design with the ever growing kidneys is ugly and i woukd never buy one. But to be fair to BMW I shy away from their current over priced vehicles with undependable performance with overly expensive maitanance and repair cost and expensive parts. So maybe i am not in their market?

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