New BMW iX1 vs Genesis GV60 vs Nissan Ariya: interiors

The iX1 is BMW’s smallest electric SUV, following hot on the heels of the well-received iX3 and iX. So, should established rivals from Genesis and Nissan be worried?...

New BMW iX1 dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

If you want an SUV because you prefer to sit high up (as opposed to just liking chunky looks), the Nissan Ariya's driving position will really appeal; it's much loftier than in the other two. Thanks to a six-way electrically adjustable seat, you'll also find it easy to fine-tune your driving position. 

Aside from a lower seat height, though, there's nothing objectively wrong with the Genesis GV60's driving position. Quite the opposite, in fact: it has a more supportive seat and even more adjustment options. It's also the only car here with an electrically adjustable steering wheel and easy-to-use physical controls for the air conditioning system. 

Genesis GV60 dashboard

Adjusting the air-con in the Ariya is done via touch-sensitive pads on the dashboard that at least give haptic feedback when you press them. In the BMW iX1, you're forced to use the infotainment touchscreen (or the hit-and-miss voice control) just to tweak the interior temperature. The iX1 is also the only one without standard adjustable lumbar support (£250) or an electric driver's seat (£1005 as part of the Comfort Pack). 

Whatever you think of the GV60's jellymould exterior, we reckon you'll be impressed when you get inside. That's especially true if you opt for the £2310 Nappa leather pack fitted to our test car; this adds quilted leather seats, a suede headlining and a range of two-tone colour schemes that, together, almost make you feel like you're sitting in a Bentley Continental GT. That's probably not a coincidence; Bentley's former design director now works for Genesis.

Nissan Ariya dashboard

And that's not all. When you push the start button, a striking crystal ball on the centre console flips over to reveal the drive selector, while all of the controls, including the stalks behind the steering wheel and the buttons on it, have a pleasingly solid and well-damped feel. Factor in generally excellent build quality (save for a slightly wobbly 'floating' centre console that fences the driver off from the front passenger) and the GV60 has the plushest interior here by a country mile. 

That's not to say the other two disgrace themselves, though. The woodgrain-effect on the lower half of the Ariya's dashboard lends it a reasonably upmarket feel, the faux-leather seats don't feel too plasticky and all the interior panels and fixtures feel robustly screwed together. And while the iX1 has the most hard plastic on show (the window switches feel particularly cheap), its interior feels just as well assembled as the other two cars'; you'd perhaps just hope for a little better from the maker of some of the finest interiors we've seen over the past five years. 

Infotainment systems


New BMW iX1 infotainment

We’re used to lavishing praise on BMW’s infotainment systems – particularly when it comes to usability. Sadly, BMW has tried to cut costs on the latest BMW X1 (and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer) by eschewing a rotary controller interface. That means you’re forced to use the 10.7in touchscreen (or voice control) for most functions. It doesn’t help that some of the icons are small (and there are an awful lot of them in places), although at least the display is sharp and responds quickly to prods.

Genesis GV60

Genesis GV60 infotainment

It would have been easy for Genesis to have lifted the touchscreen infotainment system straight from a Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6. However, the brand has produced its own system with an intuitive rotary controller (not unlike the one found in BMW’s pricier models) between the front seats. That makes it the least distracting system to operate while driving, but you can control it by touch, too. The £990 Bang & Olufsen sound system upgrade is well worth considering.

Nissan Ariya

Nissan Ariya infotainment

Infotainment isn’t a strength of the Ariya. The screen is big enough, but the graphics are fuzzy and the user interface not especially intuitive. It’s also touchscreen-only, so it’s more distracting to use while driving than the GV60’s system. The optional Bose sound system upgrade delivers punchy audio, but it’s pricey at £1750 (because it’s bundled with other equipment, including a head-up display). As with the GV60 (but not the iX1), wireless phone charging is standard.

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