We hoped that the transition to electrification could make the world a little smaller by allowing different parts of the globe to use the same models, especially electric cars based on existing internal combustion cars. However, although BMW is going to sell petrol versions of the new X1 there are no plans to ship the all-electric iX1 across the Atlantic in the United States.
Not so long ago, BMW seemed to be at the forefront of the electric revolution. A charmingly clunky carbon body i3 hatchback and three-cylinder PHEV i8 sports car both were pioneers. But in recent years, the company has moved to a more timid, out-of-bounds approach purely electric iX— BMW introduced a new line of “i” cars, which are EV versions of existing models. As and iX3, i4and i7the new iX1 is one of them, equipped with the all-electric transmission of the third-generation X1, which is just going on sale in Europe.
The iX1 comes in all-wheel-drive form with dual motors and xDrive30 branding (BMW hints that it will launch a less powerful two-wheel-drive version later). The motors turning each axle are identical, but with a slightly lower gear ratio for the single-speed gearbox at the rear. Combined maximum output is 308 horsepower and 364 lb-ft of torque. Power comes from a 64.7kWh battery under the floor, giving it a range of 266 miles according to the pleasant European WLTP testing protocol – probably less than 240 miles according to the stricter EPA procedure. The battery supports DC fast charging with up to 130kW, allowing it to be charged from 10 to 80 percent in a claimed 29 minutes. The water-cooled package will also regulate its temperature to an optimal 77 degrees Fahrenheit when approaching a fast charger programmed into the navigation system.
The iX1’s interior feels well finished and impressively spacious for a car that’s just over 177 inches long. Full-sized adults will be able to sit in the front and back without complaint, and there is also a roomy one 24 cubic feet of cargo space is a figure that will remain for the US-bound X1 xDrive28i gasoline, which actually gets a bit more cargo space at 25.7 cubic feet.
The iX1 gets a 10.3-inch digital instrument display as standard, along with a 10.7-inch curved touchscreen, both running BMW’s new operating system 8. It looks nice and runs fast, but it means the disappearance of both physical heating controls , as well as the useful array of customizable function keys that BMW has offered before. Swiping down on the top of the screen brings up a visualized version of the function keys, but you have to take your eyes off the road. Likewise, while the My Modes button on the center console has survived the bane of conventional switchgear, pressing it simply brings up the options on the screen, then requires another input to select one.
The performance of this electric car is high and delivered with minimal drama. The iX1’s accelerator pedal is a little underwhelming in response, especially in Sport mode, where the aggressive mapping makes it difficult to achieve a smooth takeoff. BMW claims a zero to 62 mph time of 5.7 seconds. Full traction is reserved for Boost mode, which is activated for 10 seconds by pulling a paddle behind the wheel, but we didn’t notice a noticeable difference compared to simply pressing the gas pedal. There’s also a single-pedal mode that can be accessed by pulling the chunky gear selector to the “B.”
The iX1 also comes with a switchable sound system, with a so-called IconicSounds Electric option that creates a futuristic and vaguely engine-like rumble in the cabin that changes depending on the position of the accelerator. It felt less contrived than some competing offerings, but we still preferred the silence with the mode off.
That’s because the sophistication is impressive. The cabin is well-insulated at both city and highway speeds, and despite a hefty 4,600lb curb weight – more than 800lb heavier than the X1 xDrive28i – ride quality remained good even on the bumpy British roads where we drove a car. The iX1 rides on passive dampers, but like the G20-gen 3 Series, they can hydraulically vary the effort during long suspension travel.
What’s sadly missing, like some other recent BMWs, is the sense of dynamic connection that used to be standard across all of the company’s products. The iX1’s steering is completely devoid of feedback at low speeds, and the forward-leaning handling balance easily switches to understeer. The retired i3 was smaller and slower, but it was also sharper and better in handling.
Driving enthusiasts’ priorities don’t seem to be high on the iX1’s list of attributes. The fact is that three new switchable modes have combined the familiar Personal, Sport and Efficient settings: Expressive, Relax and Digital Art. Selecting Expressive changes the dashboard display and activates the driver’s seat massage function; switching to a different mode did not disable the kneading, which had to be done by going through various menus. Relax started playing the ambient soundtrack. Digital Art has done another redesign of both screens. To be honest, it all felt like gimmicks.
Still, should we feel aggrieved that we were denied the iX1? Certainly, given its combination of relatively high performance, cute design and competitive price – at least in Europe. In Germany, the price before taxes is just over $45,000, which means it costs almost as much as the entry-level Kia EV6 and less than the Mercedes EQA350 4Matic. The best news for us is that the rest of this X1 is significantly upgraded from the outgoing model, which bodes well for the petrol version that will be here.
2023 BMX iX1 xDrive30
Vehicle type: front and rear engine, four-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door station wagon
Base: $46,000 – German USD equivalent, will not be sold in North America
Front motor: synchronous AC excited current, 188 hp, 182 lb-ft
Rear Motor: synchronous AC excited current, 188 hp, 182 lb-ft
Combined power: 308 hp
Combined torque: 364 lb-ft
Battery: Li-ion with liquid cooling, 64.7 kWh
On-board charger: 11.0 kW
Peak speed of direct current fast charging: 130 kW
Transmissions, F/R: Direct Drive/Direct Drive
Wheelbase: 106.0 inches
Length: 177.2 inches
Width: 72.6 inches
Height: 63.6 inches
Passenger volume: 101 feet3
Cargo volume: 24 feet3
Curb weight (C/D estimate): 4600 lbs
EFFICIENCY (C/D EST)
60 mph: 5.5 sec
1/4 mile: 13.7 sec
Top speed: 112 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
Combined/City/Highway: 97/99/96 MPGe
Range: 230 miles
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