New BMW iX1 vs Genesis GV60 vs Nissan Ariya

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 vs Genesis GV60 vs Nissan Ariya header

The contenders

New BMW iX1 xDrive30 xLine

List price £53,295
Target price £52,509

The latest BMW X1 has so far failed to impress in petrol form. Can this all-electric version make amends, despite having the shortest official range here?

Genesis GV60 RWD Premium

List price £53,905
Target price £53,905

Our current favourite electric SUV has a stunning interior, a long official range and ultrafast charging capability

Nissan Ariya 87kWh Advance

List price £51,895
Target price £50,210

The cheapest of the trio comes with lots of kit and has the biggest battery, to give it the longest official range between charges

Once upon a time, there was a school of thought that electric cars should look different. That any buyer would want to shout about the fact that they'd bought a futuristic and more environmentally friendly alternative, and would hate to blend in with the crowd of regular petrol and diesel models. 

While that might have been (and might still be) true for some people, it seems more and more manufacturers are making their electric cars (EVs) look more like 'normal' cars. Take BMW. Its first EV, launched back in 2013, was the quirky BMW i3, with its oddball looks, rear-hinged doors and part-carbonfibre construction. But with most of the German brand's latest EVs, including the excellent BMW iX3, you'd struggle to know they need plugging in rather than filling up.

BMW X1 2023 long-term iX1 side-by-side

The new, smaller BMW iX1 is cut from the same cloth. Save for some blue highlights, it looks just like any other X1 family SUV. Hopefully that isn't a bad omen, because the petrol-powered X1 has so far failed to impress, finishing last in a recent group test. 

To find out if electric power has made the X1 more recommendable, we're pitting it against our reigning Electric SUV of the Year, the Genesis GV60. The premium arm of the Hyundai-Kia group has been selling cars in the UK for only a year or so, but it has already embarrassed plenty of other premium brands with a fabulous all-rounder that majors on comfort, refinement and interior quality.

Our third and final contender is the Nissan Ariya. We’ve already tested the entry-level 63kWh model and it just lost out to the Kia EV6, but can the longer-range 87kWh model go one better? While it lacks a premium badge, it’s the cheapest of the three and, on paper at least, has the longest range.

New BMW iX1 rear panning


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

As it stands, all versions of the iX1 have two electric motors – one powering the front wheels and another driving the rears. Together, they pump out 308bhp to give BMW’s smallest SUV some big-time acceleration. In our tests, it sprinted from 0-60mph in just 5.3sec and, thanks to four-wheel drive, can slingshot you away from a standstill with no drama – even in damp conditions. Indeed, the iX1 isn’t that much slower than a Tesla Model Y Long Range.

The question is: do you really care? This is, after all, a family-minded SUV, not a sports car, and its rivals here are hardly sluggish. The GV60, which has a single 225bhp motor driving its rear wheels, can get from 0-60mph in 7.4sec, while the 239bhp, front-wheel-drive Ariya takes 8.3sec. The latter is the least urgent away from the mark but builds speed nearly as briskly as the GV60 above 30mph.

Nissan Ariya rear panning

It’s important to point out that the GV60 and Ariya are available in dual-motor, four-wheel-drive form should you want more eye-widening acceleration. However, not only will this bump up the price, but the extra weight of the second motor will also result in a slightly shorter range.

That partly explains why the iX1 can’t cover as many miles between charges as its rivals, although the main reason is because it has the smallest battery (with a 64.7kWh usable capacity). Officially, it can manage 270 miles if you stick with the standard 18in wheels, dropping to 266 miles if you add the 19in wheels (£695) fitted to our test car. You’re unlikely to achieve this even in ideal conditions, though – and in our test in temperatures ranging from 10-12deg C, the iX1 returned 3.1 miles per kWh, suggesting a theoretical maximum range of 201 miles.

You’d imagine that the Ariya – the car with the biggest battery – would have the best range – and according to the official number (329 miles), that’s true. However, due to disappointing efficiency of 2.9 miles/kWh in our test, its theoretical range comes out at 252 miles. A previous test of the Ariya on standard 19in wheels (our car had optional 20in alloys) showed that 269 miles is possible in even colder weather, although that was on a less hilly route.

Genesis GV60 rear panning

The GV60 is easily the most efficient (3.4 miles/kWh), giving the best projected range of 263 miles. It also came closest to matching its official range (of 321 miles), falling 18% adrift.

The GV60 also has the most comfortable ride. By non-luxury EV standards, it does a commendable job of soaking up bumps and potholes, with only a subtle jostling sensation noticeable at higher speeds. The iX1 is far from a bone-shaker, either, although it tends to pogo more over larger bumps, tossing you from side to side in the process.

You wouldn’t describe the Ariya as uncomfortable, either, although it does clomp the most clumsily over sharp-edged bumps, and rocks you back and forth in your seat along faster roads. However, those 20in wheels (£865) probably don’t help comfort.

Nissan Ariya front wheel

The Ariya is the least agile of our trio, too. The fact that it’s the tallest doesn’t help, because that inevitably means more body lean, and while the Ariya’s quick steering and relatively tight turning circle pay dividends around town, the steering weights up unnaturally at higher speeds, robbing you of confidence along country roads.

The iX1 and GV60 are more closely matched and feel altogether more hatchback-like to drive. However, push harder along a winding road and you’ll find that you can have more fun in the GV60; it has more grip than the iX1 and feels lighter on its toes (even though it’s actually slightly heavier). You get a better sense of connection to the front wheels from its steering, too; the iX1’s steering is numb and doesn’t build enough reassuring weight as you turn in to a corner.

The GV60 is also the one to go for if you’re after a hushed motorway cruiser. It does noticeably the best job of shutting out wind and road noise, even though our decibel readings show it’s only slightly quieter than the iX1 at 70mph. The Ariya suffers from the most wind and road noise at those speeds.

Next: What are they like inside? >>

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