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Car reviews - BMW - iX1


We like
Strong performance, roomy interior, generous luxury features, AWD security, tidy dynamics, excellent Boost button on wheel, three-year Chargefox subscription, funky curved screens in dash, OTA updates
Room for improvement
Optimistic range claim, 100 per cent charge is impossible, exponential power use driving up hills, ACC fails in slow traffic, infotainment screen quibbles, luggage space floor impeded by recharge cables, open wireless phone charger, frontal styling

Purpose-built EV chassis makes iX1 both larger and more refined the previous-gen X1

24 Aug 2023



BMW’s iX1 dual-motor small-segment electric SUV arrived recently priced from $84,900 plus on-road costs for either xLine or M Sport variants.


It competes against the likes of Volvo’s EX30 dual motor SUV (from $69,990), the Volvo XC40 dual motor SUV (from $81,490), the Lexus UX300 (from $79,990) and the Mercedes-Benz EQA 350 4Matic (from $96,900).


This is generation three of the X1 and ushers in a new (front-wheel drive) chassis designed to work with electric powertrains with concurrent benefits to packaging and a low centre of gravity.


As expected from BMW, the model boasts a suite of the latest ADAS features and comes with a new BMW integrated operating system 8 for the infotainment and other functions. Of note is the striking new curved glass screen that forms nearly half of the dash conveying information to both driver and passengers.


The model is larger in every measurement when compared with the previous generation X1 being 4500mm long (+53mm), 1845mm wide (+24mm), 1642mm high (+ 44mm) and riding on a 2692mm wheelbase (+22mm).


Not only is the iX1 physically larger, it looks larger with boxy styling to most panels, a bluff front, truncated upright rear and squared off wheel arches. The flat underbody would presumably yield benefits in terms of aerodynamic efficiency aiding noise suppression and theoretically, power usage.


All-wheel drive apportions power to each wheel as needed adding a measure of safety in slippery driving conditions. Power comes from dual electric traction motors with a combined 230kW and 494Nm output.


A boost paddle on the steering wheel gives instant access to full power and torque for 10 seconds to maximise acceleration. The iX1 can clock a 0-100km/h sprint in 5.6 seconds.


It runs a 65kWh battery for a claimed 440km WLTP range and is one of the first BEVs here with a 22kW on board charging system to facilitate Wallbox home charging. The iX1 recharge system has a 130kW maximum capability that translates into 10 - 80 per cent in a claimed 29 minutes.


Power usage is entirely dependent on how the iX1 is driven but (really) careful driving can yield 18-20kWh/100km.


Standard kit is extensive with the BMW BEV scoring, over and above the X1 petrol models. Metallic paintwork, a panoramic glass sunroof, BMW IconicSounds electric (synthetic engine /exhaust note), active sport seats with lumbar support and massage function, tyre pressure monitoring system, adaptive M suspension, harman/kardon surround sound system are all included.


A comprehensive safety suite is provided with BMW’s Driving Assistant Professional.


Other goodies fitted are Sensatec upholstery (new generation, perforated), front seat heating, DAB radio, native sat-nav, a reversing camera, sport leather steering wheel, 19-inch alloy wheels, wireless phone charging, and LED headlights with matrix high beams… and plenty more.


Driving Impressions


We wish electric vehicle makers wouldn’t make range claims their vehicles cannot match – not that ICE powered car manufacturers are much better…


BMW claims a WLTP range of up to 440km for its new iX1 small electric SUV, but we couldn’t get within a bull’s roar of that number. Instead, the test vehicle was hovering on 50kms remaining range after about 240km of (mainly highway) driving using cruise control.


Adding to our angst was the exponential use of power and concurrent reduction of indicated range when driving up hills on the freeway at 110km/h. We watched the test car lose 12km of range in about 2km. This came after it spent a few hours on a 50kW charger to get a claimed 360km range… maximum… topped out.


OK, that’s a bit of a downer. But the iX1 is good to drive delivering strong performance in a comfortable and capable package that’s especially applicable to being an urban runabout.


The use of M spec’ suspension was a master stroke because the test car felt tactile and direct with excellent cornering and sharp steering accompanying the near silent running. Bump absorption is impressive and near silent and the vehicle refuses to flinch on truck wheel ruts.


In deference to the often-enjoyed sound of ICE engines, the iX1 emits a devilish growl when the Boost button is used, generated by what BMW calls the Iconic Sounds Electric device.


The larger body gives better accommodations and a bigger load space, is better for access/egress and is distinctively BMW. The side/rear recharging port can be problematic as a front /centre port is more practical due to the positioning of recharge appliances and other vehicles.


Extensive driver assist features are fitted, some useful some verging on gimmicky but what worried us was the radar cruise inaction in a slow, heavy traffic scenario when it failed to stop after a car from the right lane cut in… Oops!


On reflection, the petrol-powered BMW X1 looks a more practical everyday proposition you can confidently drive around town and interstate in a reasonable timescale with no recharging angst… at a considerable saving of up to $25,000 if you choose the X1 sDrive 18i.


That is the one I’d choose…

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