Introduction & model history
Electric car enthusiasts will take an instant dislike to the iX1 because it replaces their beloved i3. The innovative hatchback was finally killed off in 2023 to make way for this – a conventional and somewhat generic SUV.
But, BMW will argue, this is what customers want. It might not be ground breaking, but it makes business sense. And after driving it we are warming to the idea too.
As with the existing i4 and iX3, the iX1 shares its body with conventional petrol and diesel models, but BMW expects a third of new X1 sales to be the fully electric version. The iX1 will roll down the same production line as its ICE relations so that manufacturing can be flexible to customer demand. That should be good news for supply, and help avoid the long waiting lists which currently affect the i4 especially.
On the outside, you’re looking at a car which is far smarter than the old X1s. It’s grown in every dimension but that simply means more wheelbase for extra passenger room and wider tracks for smarter handling. We’d argue it looks like a fully fledged SUV, even though it’s BMW’s smallest offering in the sector.
The iX1 pairs 64.7kWh of usable battery with either a single or double electric motors. The single motor entry-level model is front wheel drive with maximum output of 201bhp, while the two-motor model is four-wheel drive with a total of 308bhp and up to 272 miles of range. The latter is just 13 miles down on the iX3 while the former is actually a bigger number than the larger model in the range.
It’ll charge at 11kW AC as standard – going from 0-100 per cent in six hours – while optional 22kW charging cuts this to 3h45m. It’ll accept up to 130kW of DC charge, completing 10-80 per cent in around half an hour.
The electric iX1 is a much more interesting proposition than the petrol and diesel X1s it launches alongside (a pair of PHEVs will follow), being quicker, cleaner and notably more refined. We've only tried the twin-motor model, which is a quick car, capable of hitting 62mph in 5.7secs, which is what most hot hatchbacks claim. The top speed is 112mph.
Unlike the coarse-sounding petrol model we tried, the iX1 makes a more pleasing artificial noise if you’ve got ‘IconicSounds’ switched on, piping in an electric warble overseen by composer Hans Zimmer that builds and intensifies as if the motors are revving. While it’s fun – and comes with movie director kudos – you’ll turn it off quickly if you value the peace and quiet electric cars usually wear as a badge of honour.
At 2,085kg the iX1 is a bit on the chubby side, especially compared to the famously lightweight i3. It's also over 300 kilos heavier than a comparable petrol or diesel. But it’s nearly 200kg lighter than its iX3 sibling and handles its mass as well as you could hope, while the powertrain operates with utmost professionalism. The iX1 favours its front motor in day-to-day driving, so most of the time you’ll be pottering around using half of its potential power in a front-wheel-drive car. The very thing BMW famously railed against in previous generations of car, and the format now used by VW's electric cars.
The steering is light and not brimming with the feel of a BMW 3 Series but it shouldn’t offend. It’s a neat and tidy car to drive without ever being an outright thriller.
Inside, a fancy new 10.7-inch curved touchscreen and 10.25-inch instrument cluster have filtered down from the more luxurious iX model. The interior has an open-plan feeling and is shared with the 2 Series Active Tourer. And there’s definitely a bit of a late-Nineties MPV vibe to the interior, which is praise rather than criticism. Rear seat passengers will be basking in the kind of room normally found in SUVs a size bigger, too.
This is a BMW we’re recommending on its practicality and interior design over its chassis verve. Which is a slightly odd feeling; cars made by this brand have a tradition of topping their class thanks to dynamic star quality. If you can live without a laugh-out-loud chassis beneath you, though, BMW has made a very adept electric family car in the iX1. It's expensive, certainly, but BMW's smallest plug-in SUV might be the one that slots into your life most simply.