BMW iX1 review: performance, motor & drive
The iX1 is fun to drive, engaging and powerful, though the ride is a little firm for our tastes
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The iX1 might be a family SUV, but floor the accelerator and top models feel hot-hatch quick. There’s even a boost function that gives you maximum power output for 10 seconds, at which point your passengers might be searching for something to hold onto. The performance doesn’t tail off as much as you might expect at higher speeds, either, and it's far more fun to drive than its Audi, Mercedes and Volvo rivals. Slower, single-motor models are expected in due course.
BMW iX1 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration
While the BMW iX1 was only offered with one powertrain at launch, in September 2023 an entry-level single motor model was introduced. Badged the iX1 eDrive20, this gets a 201bhp front-mounted electric motor and reaches 62 mph in 8.6 seconds. We’ve not yet driven this variant, but we suspect that’ll feel more than fast enough for most owners.
Despite weighing well over two tonnes, the dual-motor iX1 xDrive30 will sprint from 0-62mph in a pretty respectable 5.7 seconds. This feels much quicker than you might expect – mainly thanks to the four-wheel-drive grip and instant torque from the electric motor – and in our eyes is almost too fast for a family car. Fual-motor versions of the Volvo XC40 Recharge are even more ballistic.
As it stands, all models get a paddle behind the left hand side of the steering wheel that engages the ‘boost’ mode, and if you’d like, acceleration can be accompanied by a sci-fi-esque soundtrack provided by legendary film composer Hans Zimmer. This definitely adds to the engagement, but you can turn it off if you like.
The iX1 is a fun, engaging car to drive, regardless of its heft or family-car credentials. However, it’s not a flawless driving experience. Our dual-motor test car came in xLine trim (not the M Sport spec with its more focused suspension set-up) but we still found the ride to be particularly firm. The car felt a little jittery on some surfaces at higher speeds, while going over speed bumps and larger potholes was quite noticeable. Considering how flat the iX1 remains on twister roads and when cornering, it wouldn’t hurt if BMW softened the suspension a bit.
During more relaxed driving, you can’t hear any whine from the electric motors, but we did encounter a little more wind and road noise than we might have liked. It wasn’t as much as you’d hear in the cabin of a Mercedes EQA, however, meaning overall, the iX1 is very refined indeed. The BMW’s steering doesn’t offer much in the way of feedback, but it’s predictable and has a good amount of weight to it.
The calibration of the brake pedal could do with some work, though. The first part of the pedal travel doesn’t slow the car all that much, but press it a little firmer, and the brakes bite rather aggressively. Thankfully, drivers get a choice of five levels of brake regeneration – the strongest of which is accessed simply via the ‘B’ mode on the gear selector. This allows for full one-pedal driving and is our preferred setup when sitting in stop-start traffic or when driving around town.
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 & drive - currently readingThe 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