BMW iX1: interior, dashboard & infotainment
Excellent interior quality and technology help justify the iX1’s price tag, but it’s a shame BMW’s faithful iDrive controller is absent
If there’s one area where BMW distinguishes its electric cars from their rivals, it’s the interior – and the iX1 is no different. It might technically be BMW’s entry-level EV now, but there’s no shortage of premium-feeling materials and exceptional technology here that combined, help to justify the iX1’s price tag.
BMW iX1 dashboard
Material quality is excellent in the iX1, as is the build quality, but we’d expect nothing less from a BMW – especially one that starts from around £45,000. The dashboard is topped with a curved panel incorporating a pair of displays. Like so many other modern EVs, the iX1 has ditched physical dials and buttons for the climate controls, though the temperature and fan adjustments are displayed constantly on the touchscreen so accessing them isn’t too fiddly.
On the centre console that extends from the arm rest you’ll find the gear selector, a smattering of buttons and a large volume control – but there is no iDrive clickwheel in the iX1. Shame, as it was a USP that boosted the BMW user-experience for over a decade. What is welcome, however, is the easily accessible wireless phone charger which sits upright below the infotainment screen, as well as the swathes of highly-configurable ambient lighting that illuminate the cabin at night.
Equipment, options & accessories
The iX1 is offered with two powertrains and three trim levels: Sport, xLine and M Sport, although the first option is only available on single-motor eDrive20 models. Standard kit is generous though, as every model comes with the dual-screen infotainment setup, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera, a powered bootlid, LED headlights and dual-zone air conditioning. Meanwhile safety kit on-board includes front-collision warning, cruise control and rear parking sensors.
Step up to the rugged-looking xLine model and the iX1 takes on a more rugged 4x4-esque look; for the extra cash you not only get a slatted version of BMW’s iconic kidney grille and extra exterior aluminium trim pieces, but also a plusher, stitched dashboard, heated seats and an adaptive suspension setup for a softer or sportier ride at the press of a button. Costing roughly £2,000 more than the base Sport, we’d consider whether you actually need any of these features.
Despite what we say, the even more expensive M Sport trim is likely to be the most popular option. This gets bigger 19-inch wheels as standard, gloss black trim, body colour wheelarches and a more aggressive front bumper to give the iX1 a slightly sportier look. It also gets you some extra goodies like Alcantara upholstery, adaptive LED headlights, keyless entry, a leather M Sport steering wheel and wireless smartphone charging.
Being a BMW, there’s a plethora of options available on the iX1 including matte Frozen Pure Grey and Blue Bay Lagoon metallic paint options from BMW Individual – the former can be tricky to care for, though, so we’d avoid it with a barge pole, regardless of how good it looks when clean. You can get real leather and Veganza leatherette trim, too, as well as goodies like a panoramic sunroof, towbar and an excellent Harman Kardon sound system.
There are plenty of option packs, too, such as the Comfort Pack that adds a heated steering wheel and adjustable lumbar support for the driver. There’s also the Technology Pack (standard on M Sport models) and Technology Plus pack if you want adaptive LED headlights, a head up display and a 360-degree parking camera system. Finally, there’s the M Sport Pro pack for M Sport models which adds 20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels, sun protection glass, the Harman Kardon sound system and extended gloss black exterior trim.
Infotainment, apps & sat nav
Every model gets a 10.25-inch instrument panel and a 10.7-inch central touchscreen for all your media, navigation and climate control. You also get the new iDrive OS9 operating system, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity as standard. BMW’s latest software is an evolution of that which we first saw in the iX flagship; new features include configurable widgets on the home screen, as well as a redesigned climate menu and configurable shortcut ‘buttons’.
There is no denying the system gives the baby BMW a hi-tech feel. The curved displays are packed with features and the graphics look sharp, plus the responsiveness and load times are first rate. But like some of BMW’s other recent models, the iX1 has done away with the faithful clickwheel controller on the centre console, which is such a shame because – as mentioned above – it made the infotainment incredibly easy to use while on the move.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe 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 & infotainment - currently readingExcellent 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