What Car? says...
The BMW iX1 is a fully electric SUV that follows a pattern familiar from other models in the German car maker's range.
It’s based on the petrol-powered BMW X1, uses the same underpinnings and has a very similar look. Indeed, the subtle electric makeover means that at first glance the only differences appear to be the iX1's closed-off grille and some blue trim highlights.
The relationship between the two models is like that of the electric BMW iX3 and the fossil fuel powered BMW X3, as well as the BMW i4 and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé. And as you'll know from our reviews of those models, BMW’s latest electric offerings are often nothing short of brilliant. So, does the BMW iX1 continue that impressive run of five-star cars?
Well, it's certainly powerful: two hefty electric motors work together to not only give it the traction benefits of four-wheel drive, but also produce a total of 309bhp – more than the pricier iX3. The iX1 can manage a reasonable distance between charges, too: the official range is up to 270 miles thanks to a 64.7kWh (usable capacity) battery pack.
The iX1 is up against some strong competition, though, with rivals including the Audi Q4 e-tron, the Genesis GV60, the Kia EV6, the Tesla Model Y and the Volvo XC40 Recharge. Many of those rivals can go even further on a charge, and some of them can charge up faster too – so does the iX1 impress enough in other areas to make up for that?
That's what we'll tell you over the next few pages of this review, as we rate the BMW iX1 in all the areas likely to matter to electric SUV buyers.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
There’s currently only one version of the BMW iX1, and it’s called the xDrive30. The ‘xDrive’ bit means four-wheel drive, and there are two electric motors – one driving the front wheels and one the rears. Together they pump out a whopping 309bhp.
That's enough for 0-62mph in a very swift 5.6sec – quicker than the fastest version of the Audi Q4 e-tron, the entry-level Tesla Model Y and our preferred Premium trim Genesis GV60 (which is the version closest in price to the iX1).
However, as fast as the iX1 undoubtedly is, if you want a super-quick electric SUV, take a look at the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin, which will get to 62mph from a standing start a whole second faster than the iX1. Four-wheel-drive versions of the Kia EV6 are quicker too, and the Model Y Performance is in another league (but also costs a lot more).
The official WLTP range from a full charge of the 64.7kWh (useable capacity) battery is around 270 miles (it varies slightly depending on wheel size). An XC40 Recharge covers near-enough the same distance, but the Q4 e-tron, the GV60, the EV6 and the equivalent Model Y can all travel further. The iX1’s range, then, is no better than average for the class.
And to drive? Well, we’ve tried the iX1 in M Sport trim with optional 20in wheels, and the entry-level xLine with optional 19in wheels. Both trim levels use M Adaptive suspension that – like on the bigger BMW iX3 – automatically stiffens or slackens the suspension depending on the road surface and how you’re driving.
Surprisingly, though, there’s a fairly big difference between the two versions. We found M Sport on 20in wheels to be so firm that it jostles occupants far too much. There's side-to-side head toss on uneven B-roads, and sudden impacts over potholes and speed bumps in town, and over motorway expansion joints.
For that reason, we’d avoid the 20in wheel option with M Sport and stick with less flashy xLine trim, because the ride is more composed and supple. It’s still not up there with the comfort levels of the Q4 or GV60 though – those two rivals are among the most comfortable electric cars available in this price bracket.
In both versions of the iX1, body lean is kept in check through corners and there's a respectable amount of grip, although the numb steering prevents you from having much fun along a twisty road. At least refinement is impressive, with little wind noise on the move and only a small amount of tyre roar.
The interior layout, fit and finish
There’s a good range of adjustment in the BMW iX1's seat and steering wheel, and the driver's seat has plenty of side support. The optional Comfort Pack adds an electrically adjustable driver's seat with electric lumbar adjustments, a basic massage function (it’s linked to the ‘Relax’ and ‘Expressive’ driving modes), and driver’s seat memory settings.
Forward visibility is pretty good, helped by a driving position that's higher than in most hatchbacks (but isn't that high by SUV standards). A reversing camera, and front and rear parking sensors come as standard on all models, while a 360-degree camera system can be added as part of the Technology Plus pack. LED headlights are standard across the range for excellent visibility at night. M Sport trim adds fully adaptive ones, or they can be added as part of the Technology or Technology Plus pack on x-Line versions.
The 10.25in digital driver's display behind the steering wheel in every iX1 is joined to a 10.7in touchscreen infotainment system. The infotainment (called BMW Operating System 8) is packed with features, and the screen has sharp graphics and responds more quickly to touch inputs than the system in the Kia EV6.
The bad news is that to operate the functions you have to either touch the right part of the screen – which inevitably means looking away for the road – or use the voice command system. It's one of the better voice control systems we've tried, but is far from perfect.
In short, it's a shame the iX1 misses out on the rotary controller interface you get in more expensive BMWs including the BMW i4 and BMW iX. The Genesis GV60 also has a rotary controller, making its infotainment system far easier to use on the move.
The quality of the BMW iX1's interior is far from spectacular by electric SUV standards. It's roughly on a par with the EV6, so feels well screwed together, but there's lots more hard and unappealing plastic than in a GV60 or Volvo XC40 Recharge.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
In the front, the BMW iX1 has lots of headroom and the seats slide back a long way, so even tall folk will be able to get comfy. There’s a pair of cupholders deep enough to hold large coffees, the door pockets are a good size and there’s a big, useful storage tray underneath the central armrest.
Space in the back is impressive too. In fact, the iX1 is more accommodating than the Genesis GV60 and Volvo XC40 Recharge in terms of head and leg room, so tall adults will fit fine back there. That said, the Nissan Ariya and Tesla Model Y are even more generous for rear space.
There are handy levers in the boot for those occasions when you need to fold down the rear seats, and the seatbacks divide in a 40/20/40 split (rather than the 60/40 you get in most cars), which is really useful.
The 490-litre boot offers a bit more storage space than the electric XC40's, although the Model Y can carry even more luggage. We managed to squeeze seven carry-on suitcases below the load cover, the same number we fitted in the Ariya and one more than in the GV60.
The iX1 has enough underfloor storage for its charging cables, but unlike in the GV60 and Model Y, there’s no front boot. An automatic tailgate comes as standard.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The iX1 might seem very expensive, but that's partly because, right now, it’s available only in powerful four-wheel-drive form. With that in mind, the pricing is roughly in line with the Genesis GV60 and equivalent four-wheel-drive versions of the Tesla Model Y and Volvo XC40 Recharge. BMW plans to add cheaper variants to the line-up in the future.
The iX1 can accept a maximum charging speed of 130kW, allowing a 10-80% charge in as little as 29 minutes if you can find a fast enough charger. Most rivals charge up more quickly, including the GV60 (239kW), the XC40 Recharge Twin (200kW for model year 2024) and the Model Y (250kW). The Model Y has the big advantage of access to the excellent Tesla Supercharger network.
The iX1's entry-level trim, xLine, comes well equipped, with adaptive suspension, 18in alloys, cruise control, a digital driver display, all-round parking sensors and a reversing camera. The other trim option, M Sport, tweaks the styling and adds 19in alloys as well as the Technology Pack, which includes wireless phone-charging and high-beam assist for the headlights.
BMW came 16th out of 32 brands in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey – just above Volvo (17th), Tesla (joint 19th) and Audi (21st). All iX1s come with a three-year unlimited-mileage warranty, which is better than the three-year/60,000-mile warranties offered by Audi and Volvo, but somewhat short of the five-year/unlimited mileage cover on the GV60. The iX1's battery is covered separately for eight years or 100,000 miles.
The latest BMW X1 was awarded five stars for safety by Euro NCAP but the rating doesn't cover the iX1 because it's much heavier. However, you get lots of active and passive safety tech to help you avoid collisions, or protect you if you have one. The GV60 and the Model Y received five-star ratings under the latest testing regime, with the Tesla praised for achieving the highest overall score of any car currently on sale.
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Officially, the iX1 can do up to 272 miles on a full battery charge, but 220 miles in warm weather is a more realistic estimate.
|RRP price range||£46,205 - £61,835|
|Number of trims (see all)||3|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||electric|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£92 / £124|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£185 / £247|