Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

BMW IX1 REVIEW

The BMW iX1 is one of the best compact electric SUVs to drive, with good performance, sharp steering, agile handling, high levels of grip, and a comfortable ride.

  • BMW iX1
  • BMW iX1
  • BMW iX1
  • BMW iX1
  • BMW iX1
  • BMW iX1
  • BMW iX1
  • BMW iX1
  • BMW iX1
  • BMW iX1
  • BMW iX1
  • BMW iX1
Green Car Guide Rating: 9/10

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:    BMW iX1 xDrive30 xLine
  • Fuel:    Electric
  • Electric driving range (WLTP): 259 – 273 miles
  • Maximum rapid charging rate:    130 kW

Summary

  • One of the best compact electric SUVs to drive
  • Good performance, sharp steering, agile handling
  • Interior features the latest BMW technology
  • Real-world driving range could be better

BACKGROUND

The compact SUV segment is one of the most popular for car buyers, and therefore one of the most important for car manufacturers, but BMW hasn’t had an electric presence in this class to date. That has now changed with the arrival of the BMW iX1. And unlike the larger iX3, the iX1 is available with all-wheel drive. We’ve already driven the iX1 at its UK launch, but it was only a short drive of a pre-production vehicle, so what have we learnt after a living with an iX1 for a week?

BMW iX1BMW iX1

DESIGN & ENGINEERING

The BMW iX1 combines an electric powertrain in a compact SUV body built on a new platform. The electric powertrain consists of a 64.7 kWh battery and two 190 hp electric motors, one at the front and one at the rear, delivering all-wheel drive.

The iX1 has a 490-litre boot (or 1,495 litres with the rear seats folded), which is a decent size, but rear legroom isn’t huge.

The exterior design is an evolution of the previous X1 model, and the basic body style is the same for petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and electric powertrains.

BMW iX1BMW iX1

BMW IX1 DRIVING EXPERIENCE

The BMW iX1 has an electric drivetrain with a power output of 313 hp and torque of 494 Nm, resulting in good performance and a 0-62 mph time of 5.6 seconds. It also has lots of grip thanks to all-wheel drive (BMW claims that its traction control is 10 times faster than other systems on the market). The drivetrain is housed a compact SUV body, which provides a recipe for a fun driving experience.

We knew all the above from the iX1 UK launch, but that event had a limited driving distance, on a route driven in convoy, at controlled speeds (the cars were pre-production).

What we learnt from a week living with the production iX1, taking in some excellent driver’s roads in places such as the Lake District, is that the iX1 combines all the above benefits with sharp steering, rewarding handling, and good ride quality (adaptive suspension is fitted as standard). The result is one of the most agile and responsive, and therefore one of the best, compact electric SUVs on sale.

You even get an accompanying soundtrack, with the iX1 making an engaging ‘futuristic’ noise in Sport mode.

On the subject of noise, although the iX1 is generally quiet overall, there is some tyre noise on certain motorway surfaces.

The iX1 has a dashboard that is visually recognisable as a BMW, but there’s one major difference: the iDrive controller has gone. So you’re left with having to press buttons on the touchscreen for most car controls. This is not as user-friendly as reaching down to an iDrive rotary dial and shortcut buttons between the front seats. However you do have three shortcut buttons on the right-hand side of the touchscreen for Media, Tel and Nav. To access lots of secondary car controls, you press an icon composed of four squares.

Another change is that the traditional BMW drive modes have gone, replaced by ‘My Modes’; in our view, if you’re quickly looking for the equivalent of Sport, Comfort and Eco drive modes, it’s not as obvious which of the new My Modes to select.

There are three drive modes of Personal, Sport and Efficient, and others such as ‘Expressive’; if you select this mode you get a back massage – which you may not want. And if you’re trying to follow the satnav and you bring up the screen to select your required My Mode, you’re left with a screen showing your chosen mode but you lose the screen giving you directions.

Yet another thing that’s disappeared is any form of traditional gear selector, instead there’s a switch that you pull back for ‘D’, and pull back again for ‘B’, ie. increased brake regeneration (there’s also adaptive recuperation, when the car decides itself how much regen to apply).

The satnav system is excellent, with clear mapping graphics. There’s an optional head-up display, and an optional ‘Augmented View’ function adds arrows on top of a video of the actual road in front of you on the touchscreen.

The lane departure warning system annoyingly takes control of your steering – to banish this, you have to press an icon on the touchscreen with a car and three lines, which takes you to driver assistance shortcuts.

On the iX1’s UK launch, the car that we drove had a button on the steering wheel to give you a temporary torque boost. Our xLine test car didn’t have this, as it’s only found on models with M Sport trim.

BMW iX1BMW iX1

BMW IX1 ELECTRIC RANGE AND CHARGING

The BMW iX1 has a WLTP Combined electric driving range of 259 – 273 miles. It wasn’t possible to test the real-life range on the short launch event, so this is another reason why we always need to live with electric cars for a longer period. Unfortunately the result of the real-world range test wasn’t particularly positive, averaging between 178-215 miles.

The iX1 has a maximum rapid charging rate of 130 kW, and BMW says that its engineers have been working to optimise the charge curve, in other words, trying to reduce the drop-off in charging speed as the battery charge increases. The result is that a 10% to 80% charge at a 130 kW+ rapid charger can be achieved in 29 minutes. Potentially you could gain 75 miles of range in just ten minutes.

If you can charge at a workplace offering 11 kW three-phase power, a 0-100% charge could take 6.5 hours. There’s also the option to be able to charge at up to 22 kW AC, when the charging time could be reduced to 3 hours 45 minutes.

How to charge an electric car

BMW iX1BMW iX1

PRICE AND MODEL RANGE

The base price of our BMW iX1 xDrive30 xLine test car was £51,350. It came with a range of standard features including M Adaptive Suspension. It also had Phytonic Blue paint (£595) and Oyster Vernasca Leather (£1,150), taking the price to £53,095. On top of that there were a number of options: Technology Plus Pack (£2,750), Comfort Pack (£1,050), 19″ wheels (£695), Panoramic Glass Sunroof (£1,000), Luggage Net (£150), Sun Protection Glass (£300) and Harman/Kardon Surround Sound Audio System (£600). The options totalled £6,545, taking the total purchase price to £59,695 which is quite expensive for a compact SUV, albeit a premium one.

Other than the iX1 xLine, there’s also the iX1 M Sport trim, available from £54,960.

Blue exterior trim details are a no-cost option. 18-inch light-alloy wheels are fitted on xLine and M Sport cars, although these models can also be specified with 19-inch wheels, as in the case of our test car, or – in a first for the BMW X1 – 20-inch wheels.

BMW iX1BMW iX1

Conclusion

Here at Green Car Guide we’ve reviewed every electric car that’s ever been on sale in the UK and we’re struggling to think of a compact electric SUV that’s as good to drive as the BMW iX1. It has good performance, sharp steering, agile handling, lots of grip, and good ride quality. The main downside is that the real-world range was disappointing, and of course at prices ranging between £50,000+ to £60,000+ with options, this is not a cheap compact SUV. And of course fans of traditional BMW cockpits may be disappointed to see that the iDrive controller has disappeared. The BMW iX1 is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.

Car facts and figures BMW IX1 REVIEW

  • Test electric driving range: 178 – 215 miles
  • Consumption (WLTP): 18.1 – 16.8 kWh/100 km
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):    £0
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2022/23): 2%
  • Price:    From £52,255
  • Insurance group:    TBC
  • Power:    313 hp
  • Torque:    494 Nm
  • Max speed:    112 mph
  • 0-62 mph:    5.6 seconds
  • Weight:    2,085 kg
  • Towing capacity: 1,200 kg
Paul Clarke

Review by:
Paul Clarke, GreenCarGuide Editor