BMW iX1 review: the electric family SUV for keen drivers
The BMW iX1 is powerful, refined and practical. It’s expensive, but it’s also more fun and engaging to drive than its closest rivals
- Well equipped
- Quiet at speed
- No single-motor model yet
- Firm ride
- Rivals offer greater range
|Wallbox charge time
|Rapid charge time
|10hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)
|29mins (10-80%, 130kW)
BMW iX1 verdict
The BMW iX1 is exactly what you’d expect from an SUV from the Bavarian manufacturer; despite being BMW’s entry-level electric car, the iX1’s interior feels very premium, with a slick and easy-to-use infotainment system. It’s pretty great to drive, too, with sharp and direct steering, tight body control and a pair of punchy electric motor setups.
Rivals from Tesla and Audi can go further on a charge and top up faster, but the BMW’s roomy cabin and boot should be more than fit for family life. It’s not necessarily the most exciting option out there, but the BMW iX1 is nevertheless an impressive all-rounder and a solid pick if you’re after a premium SUV that doesn’t shout about its zero-emissions status.
Range details, specs and alternatives
In 2013, BMW introduced its first electric car, the pioneering and somewhat quirky i3, which went out of production in 2022. As there’s no direct replacement for the i3 currently in the works, that means this is the new entry-level EV from BMW: the iX1, which sits below the iX3 SUV, i4 saloon, i5 saloon, i7 limousine and iX luxury SUV, in the Bavarian automaker’s line-up of ‘i’-badged electric cars.
The BMW iX1 is not an all-new, clean-sheet-of-paper electric car like the i3 or iX were. Instead, it's the fully electric version of BMW’s new, third-generation X1 compact SUV – a model that’s also available with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid power. In fact, aside from the badge on the bootlid, green flash on the number plate and lack of any exhaust pipes, you'd be hard pressed to tell the iX1 apart from a regular X1 – something potential buyers might like.
Given the appetite in the market for small electric SUVs right now, it’s no wonder that BMW expects the iX1 to eventually make up two thirds of new X1 sales. Look at its long list of rivals for proof: the Audi Q4 e-tron, Mercedes EQA and Volvo XC40 Recharge are probably the closest alternatives, but some larger models like Nissan Ariya, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Ford Mustang Mach-E and even Tesla Model Y have similar appeal, capabilities and price tags in certain forms. We expect potential owners to be cross-shopping with top-end versions of the Volkswagen ID.4, and possibly even the latest Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona Electric.
Starting from around £45,000, the BMW iX1 is more expensive than mainstream options, but roughly the same price as its Audi and Mercedes counterparts. Like the Audi, the BMW is also available with a sleek coupe-SUV bodystyle in the form of the new BMW iX2, which is available at a slight premium over the more conventional (and practical) iX1.
While there was only one powertrain offered at launch, the iX1 can now be had in both single and dual-motor forms. The entry-level BMW iX1 eDrive20 gets a 201bhp electric motor on the front axle and will complete the 0-62mph sprint in 8.6 seconds. If you’re after the ‘ultimate driving machine’, the range-topping iX1 xDrive30 perhaps gets closest with its 313bhp output and 5.7-second 0-62mph time.
All versions of the BMW iX1 come with the same 64.7kWh battery which, according to BMW, is sufficient for a maximum of 296 miles in the eDrive20 and 270 miles in the more powerful xDrive30. Standard DC rapid charging at speeds of up to 130kW means all iX1 models can be charged from 10-80% in just under half an hour, provided you use a suitably fast public charger.
Standard kit list is also suitably generous; buyers get a choice of Sport, xLine and M Sport trims, although the first of those is exclusive to the base eDrive20 model. Every model features a 10.25-inch digital driver’s display, 10.7-inch central touchscreen, a reversing camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, dual-zone air conditioning and the latest version of the BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Upgrading to the xLine model gives the iX1 a more rugged look and includes luxuries like plusher interior trim, heated front seats and adaptive suspension for a more supple ride. The M Sport model adds bigger wheels, gloss black trim and a more athletic appearance, as well as £2,750 to the price tag. It also gets you extra goodies like wireless smartphone charging and Alcantara upholstery. Despite the higher price – as with all BMW models – M Sport is expected to take the lion’s share of sales.
Click here to see why you can trust DrivingElectric reviews, or for a more detailed look at the BMW iX1, read on for the rest of our in-depth review…
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe BMW iX1 is powerful, refined and practical. It’s expensive, but it’s also more fun and engaging to drive than its closest rivals
- 2Range, battery & chargingThe iX1 fails to crack the 300-mile barrier so many of its rivals manage with relative ease, but rapid charging speeds are competitive at least
- 3Running costs & insuranceRock-bottom company-car tax and comprehensive servicing packs count in the electric X1’s favour here
- 4Performance, motor & driveThe iX1 is fun to drive, engaging and powerful, though the ride is a little firm for our tastes
- 5Interior, dashboard & infotainmentExcellent interior quality and technology help justify the iX1’s price tag, but it’s a shame BMW’s faithful iDrive controller is absent
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThe fully electric iX1 is just almost as roomy as a petrol or diesel-powered X1, and boasts more boot space than most of its key rivals
- 7Reliability & safety ratingThere’s no Euro NCAP crash-safety score just yet, but BMW’s history with electric cars bodes well for reliability