Test Drive: BMW iX1: the conqueror

The recently-launched BMW X1 second generation range includes an electric version which is simply called iX1. Like its ICE siblings, it is based on the FAAR platform. On the outside, the main differences  are its closed radiator and blue bonnet badge. Look a bit closer and you will notice there are no tailpipes under the rear bumper. No less than two electric motors are fitted to the two axles, providing the car with 272 HP and a 494 Nm torque. Power can even be momentarily boosted to 313 HP.

Inside, it’s exactly what we were expecting, materials and fit and finish are on par with ICE X1s. After all, this is a Bimmer, no matter it’s Munich’s entry-level SUV. The steering wheel rim is too thick for our liking. The digital Curved Display screens add the compulsory modern touch. Just like on the 2 Series Active Tourer, there is a central armrest with a small gear lever, the audio system volume control as well as knobs to select driving modes, activating the parking cameras and the electric parking brake. The compulsory can holders are close to the clever smartphone inductive charging system. It faces the passengers and it would be nice if some other car makers would be inspired by such a layout.

I like it

Let’s face it, driving an electric car on a daily basis is quite pleasant. It accelerates instantly at red lights or when you need to clear a junction quickly. That’s an undeniable quality, nothing like an ICE car featuring an automatic gearbox. All too often, these are muffled and react far too slowly in many situations. What’s more, driving in electric mode is soothing, as if the lack of mechanical noise had taken away some of the stress. But don’t get us wrong here, we still prefer changing gears on country lanes with the cylinders screaming. The iX1’s battery nominal capacity is 68 kWh/h, with a claimed 421 to 504 km range. However, the best range value we could get on the computer screen was 332 km, with a fully charged battery.

Quite clever

While we may regret the disappearance of some of the famous Freude am Fahren so dear to the Bavarian brand, the quality of the seats and the outstanding driving position remain some of its strongest assets. You feel comfortable once on board and finding the right driving position is easy enough. However, patience is compulsory when it comes to navigating through the on-screen menus to disable some driving aids…

I don’t like it

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder… We’re still struggling with the body sharp, choppy lines, not to mention the many unnecessary creases. Mind you, BMW’s styling can be odd and weird, the brand still sell cars. We still don’t like the upside-down door handles.

Why I buy it

BMW’s first electric compact SUV is a perfectly honed product. Its range may be just average, it’s still more than what’s needed for everyday commuting. It’s a real pleasure to drive, and it confirms what we’ve been feeling since our very first electric car drive: you’re so much more relaxed behind the wheel. The absence of mechanical noise has a particularly positive effect on us. Comfort is top-notch, and you even forget the fact that the iX1 weighs in at a hefty 2163 kg. Unlike many of its rivals, the BMW’s cabin is just as well finished as that of the ICE cars. The materials’ quality is impressive. As ever with a BMW, the driving position is perfect and the ergonomics have been carefully thought out.

Why I don’t buy it

The iX starts from €57,950 and is the electric entry model in the BMW range. Now that the i3 is no longer available, the iX1 is a major player in electryfying company cars fleets. Our test model featured  a panoramic sunroof (€1,400), front sports seats (€390) and the Premium Pack Pro (€4,380), taking the final price to a whopping  €73,255. Mind you, other premium German brands are just as expensive, but don’t forget Tesla. The American brand offers better value for money but the interior is made up of low quality ugly plastics and it has no soul. During our test drive, fuel consumption was 21.2 kWh/100 km. We mainly used the most economical driving mode and maximum energy recovery. By the way, when it comes to braking, we are not fully trusting heavy EVs. (Translation: Dimitri Urain)

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