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BMW iX1 Review: Subtle Design, Electrifying Performance

While EVs tend to stand out in a crowd, BMW has taken a very subtle and subdued approach with its entry-level electric SUV.
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By Jaiveer Mehra

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1 mins read

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Published on February 5, 2024

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Highlights

  • iX1 commands a Rs 15 lakh premium over combustion engine X1.
  • The iX1 may surprise some with how deceptively quick it can be.
  • Tech-heavy interior is a little tight on space, especially at the back.

BMW has had a strong start to its electrification push in the Indian market with its flagship, the iX establishing itself as the best-selling EV in the segment. Since December of 2021, BMW has looked to bolster its EV line-up starting with the iX SUV, followed by the i4 and i7 sedans and now the iX1 small SUV. Sold alongside the ICE version, the iX1 is the most powerful and expensive derivative of BMW’s third-gen X1 SUV. So, is it worth the additional outlay?

 

 

BMW iX1: Design & styling

 

At first glance the iX1 looks like a standard X1 with BMW only making minor tweaks to the EV over the internal combustion model.

 

When it comes to the looks, subtle would be one of the ways to describe the iX1. At first glance, you will rarely be able to tell the EV apart from its petrol/diesel siblings. BMW has given the iX1 an identical design as the X1 down to the M Sport styling package. You get the same ‘sporty’ bumpers, side sills and dual-tone alloy wheels. Even the paint finishes are shared. Also, while the iX1 does get an enclosed kidney grille, it features the same louvre designs as the X1 so from far it looks identical.

 

Also Read: BMW Group India Reports Highest Ever Car Sales In 2023 With 14,172 Units Sold

 

Enclosed grille looks similar to the unit on the X1; wears an i badge.

 

Other smaller design touches help identify this as an EV – the blue halos around all BMW logos, an ‘i’ badge on the grille, and iX1 badging on the boot lid. If nothing else, it’s the green number plates that are the first signs that this is an EV.

 

Other iX1 identifiers include blue halos around all BMW roundels and the green numberplates

 

Overall, it's every bit the sharp-looking small SUV that we saw with the third-gen X1 launched at the beginning of 2023. While we feel it is a good thing, some of you may feel that the looks are a bit too covert for a full-blown EV version of the SUV.

 

BMW iX1: Interior & Comfort

Cabin design unchanged over the X1; screens get BMW i graphics.

 

The cabin too follows the same theme of subtlety with little to give this SUV away as an EV. Sure, you have the BMW’I’ graphics that pop up on the instrument cluster on opening the door and the blue halo on the BMW logo on the steering – but that’s about it. The twin-screen dashboard layout, the rather unique air-con vent layout, the vertical wireless charging pad, the M Sport seats and light coloured leather upholstery – it’s all shared with the X1. If there is a gripe with the cabin it’s that a lot of the controls have been pushed onto the central touchscreen – ranging from climate controls to the drive modes and more. There are some physical shortcut keys on the centre console though, while helpful, more physical controls for bits such as climate control would have been nice.

 

Minimal physical controls in the cabin; buttons are shortcuts to controls on the touchscreen

 

When it comes to comfort, the front seats are very supportive and offer a range of adjustments. There’s even a massage function that can be activated via the central touchscreen. Finding a good driving position is easy enough though I did kind of wish that the steering could be adjusted a little higher. The steering itself adjusts for both rake and reach.

 

Just about ample legroom for sub-six footers at the rear; are sat a bit knees up.

 

The rear seats too offer decent room with just about ample space for a sub-6-foot adult to sit. The seating position is a bit knees-up. Unlike in some EVs, there is space to slide the feet under the front seat. The panoramic sunroof and large glass house also help brighten up the space.

 

BMW iX1: Powertrain

 

The most important bit about the iX1 is without a doubt its powertrain. The internal combustion engines from the X1 have made way for a pair of electric motors – one on each axle. The iX1’s xDrive 30 is the most powerful powertrain of the X1 family currently on sale developing a cumulative 308bhp and 494Nm. While it does fall short of the Volvo XC40 and C40’s 402bhp and 660Nm, the iX1 is still relatively quick. 0-100 kmph is dusted in under six seconds and the SUV will hit a top speed of 180 kmph. The petrol and diesel X1s are notably slower in the sprint to 100 kmph with times around the 9-second mark.

 

Dual motor electric powertrain good for 308 bhp and 494 Nm.

 

The dual motors are paired with a 66.4 kWh battery pack with BMW claiming a range of up to 440 km (WLTP) on a single charge. BMW offers each unit of the iX1 with a 11 kW wall box charger that juices up the battery in about 6 hours. There are fast charging options too with the SUV supporting up to 135 kW of DC fast charging (CCS Type 2).

 

Also Read: BMW Group India To Launch 19 New Models In 2024, Includes 13 Cars

 

iX1 comes with an 11 kW wallbox charger; supports up to 135 kW DC fast charging.

 

BMW iX1: Performance, ride and handling

 

BMW has put in a lot of effort to make the iX1 drive as similar to the X1 as possible. There’s decent feel to the steering and the frequency selective dampers do a decent job of ironing out bumps as you pick up pace. That said the suspension does feel on the stiffer side at low speeds and large potholes do unsettle the car. The stiffer suspension entails well-controlled body movement through the corners and grip too is not really an issue with power being sent to all four wheels.

 

The iX1 gets adaptive dampers that do stiffen up in sport mode though given our road conditions it just tends to throw you around the cabin a lot more. And while sport mode does give you the option to customize the powertrain and steering, nothing short of dropping the SUV out of sport mode seems to affect the suspension.

 

Drive modes adjust level of performance; Sport also stiffens up the adaptive dampers.

 

As a daily driver, the iX1 has little trouble keeping up with city traffic with the EV powertrain offering instant power at the flex of a pedal. Picking up the pace too is as simple as pressing down harder on the accelerator and the EV picks up the pace easily. Plant your foot down and you do feel the torque of the electric powertrain as you are thrown into your seat as the car surges forward. Sport mode sharpens up the responses from the powertrain for those wanting more performance and a sole paddle shifter behind the steering activates a temporary boost mode that elicits maximum power from the drivetrain.

 

Sport lets you tailor the performance parameters though no adjustment for suspension.

 

During our time with the EV, it showed that it could reach the 400 km mark on a single charge. However, do keep in mind that an EVs range differs based on driving style. Drive it hard and the range could drop quite quickly. Driving with a light foot should see you come quite close if not cross the 400 km mark. What does take getting used to are the regen modes. Aside from low, moderate and high, the iX1 gets an adaptive regen mode that uses the car’s various sensors to adjust the level of regen at a particular time. This means that while the car cycles between the regen modes so it could decelerate at a high rate at one point and at a low rate the next minute.

 

Another factor that stands out is the noise insulation. The cabin is quiet for the most part with a lot of the exterior ambient noise being kept out of the cabin. Tyre noise however is prevalent as the speed picks up which feels like the only real fly in the ointment.

 

BMW iX1: Equipment

iX1 comes with Level 2 ADAS functions; part of the sensors housed in the overhead console

 

Speaking of kit, the iX1 does have a fair bit of kit on offer, there’s adaptive headlamps, Level 2 ADAS tech, powered front seats with massage functions, drive modes, adaptive dampers, single pedal driving, adjustable regen modes, dual-zone climate control, a 10.7-inch touchscreen with an inbuilt voice assistant and navigation, 10.25-inch digital instrument screen, hands-free parking, a reversing-assistant and hands-free tailgate operation.

 

10.7-inch touchscreen handles majority of the in-car functions.

 

There are some omissions such as ventilated front seats and 360-degree camera though it does cover most of its bases.

 

BMW iX1: Verdict

 

At Rs 66.90 lakh (ex-showroom), the iX1 is almost Rs 15 lakh more expensive than the most expensive ICE X1 in India. For that price, you get an EV that is completely under the radar while also being very refined, powerful, and efficient – it will do close to 400 km on a single charge if driven sedately. Then there is the interior, while it is not the most spacious at the rear, it is comfy enough and this is clearly an SUV that is aimed at the self-driven.

iX1 does well as an entry-luxury electric SUV

 

Other alternatives do offer more space for a similar price tag – particularly the born-electric models from Kia and Hyundai, but the iX1 does have a charm to it that will attract EV buyers particularly those wanting the pull of one of the German luxury car brands. In the end, buying the iX1 is less of a matter of the mind and more a matter of the heart, the mind might not see the iX1 as value for money, but it will tug at your heartstrings. 

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