BMW iX1 xDrive30 test proves: The electric iX1 is the best X1

First the iX3, then the iX, now the iX1: BMW adds the iX1 to its portfolio of battery-electric SUVs. Despite the multi-drive strategy, an excellent electric car has been created here. And it sets high expectations for the ‘New Class’ as a pure EV platform.


The first thing we noted was that the vehicle has no frunk, combined with the fact that it is not cheap. These two points about the BMW iX1 xDrive30 are not ideal. However, a test drive has proven that the electric iX1 is the best X1. Some assume that a multi-drive strategy can’t work. In reality, the iX1 stands a step above the competition in multiple aspects: it is quite efficient, the assistance systems are outstanding, and above all, it really has all the functions an electric car driver wants.

The manual preconditioning of the traction battery (net energy content 64.7 kWh) allows for flexible use: with one tap, the electrochemical storage unit is heated or precooled depending on the interior temperature. This is a major improvement for all drivers who do not navigate with the first-class route planner and its automatic battery preconditioning system, but are on a regular route and know exactly where to find a charging station.

This function should not be confused with the tick boxes that can be set on some manufacturers. With BMW, the traction battery is brought to the ideal value for charging – as is usual with real preconditioning. Tesla has led the way so far, but does not offer manual boosting.

SOC forecast, 22 kW charger, no bugs

This detail is representative of the skilful impression the iX1 makes. A SOC display in percentage points is just as self-evident as a display of the charging power in kilowatts. The route planner with reliable voice control calculates the location of the charging stops as well as the necessary stopping time including SOC forecast. And nice regards to Cariad, Volkswagen’s software company: there are electric cars that are free of bugs, and one of them is the BMW iX1.

The charging power on the DC side is a maximum of 135 kW. The best possible charging curve could be achieved at any time during the early summer test period because of the preconditioning. Although the duration of 29 minutes for the lift from ten to 80 per cent is not a benchmark (the Hyundai Group sets this with the e-GMP), it is progressing. Pleasant for city dwellers who rely on the public infrastructure: For an extra 720 euros, there is a 22 kW charger. Hello, Zoe!

There can be no doubt that the electric portfolio benefits from the experience with the i3. iX1, iX3, iX and soon iX2 for the SUVs. i4, i5 and i7 for the sedans. Unlike Toyota at present, there is no feeling here that an electric car has to be offered somehow and out of embarrassment. Keyword compliance car. The opposite is the case. And we can assume that the design of the iX1, which is hardly distinguishable from the X1 versions with combustion engine, is intentional: customer surveys have presumably shown that it is not meant to be exotic like the i3 and i8, but conventional.

Assistance systems outstanding

The assistance systems in the iX1 are absolutely top-notch. Yes, BMW makes you pay dearly for some of them. But the result is impressive. The most important excerpts state that the iX1 can differentiate between yellow and white lines in road works. It forms an emergency lane in a motorway traffic jam, and it does not overtake on the right, even if the selected speed would be sufficient to do so. Distance control and lane guidance are simply very good. It is noticeable that nothing stands out. Where there is almost always some kind of smear on other electric cars, there is nothing on the BMW. To put this in concrete terms: The Hyundai Ioniq 6, for example, has become really cool. And yet it’s annoying when the hands-off detection system makes a false assessment, despite the hand on the steering wheel.

Two years after the first detailed test drive in the iX3, the red light detection has also been improved in the iX1. In adaptive recuperation mode, deceleration is ramped up when the traffic light turns red. When the road is clear, however, the iX1 glides along almost without resistance. Before tight bends, a roundabout or when a vehicle ahead is identified, the recuperation regulates upwards again, and all of this so precisely and to the point that it can otherwise only be found at Mercedes.

With ACC activated, the iX1 even stops when a red light has been clearly identified. In large cities, where there are many traffic lights with different signals next to each other, the system is still overtaxed. Outside the city, on the other hand, it works. The only important thing for drivers is that they are shown what the BMW is doing, and it does. No Mode Confusion.

Automated parking, relatively low power consumption

The author of this article admits that until now he has considered any automatic parking system to be a gimmick. The BMW iX1 is different. As soon as a parking manoeuvre is detected, a friendly voice asks if the rest should be done on its own. Yes, please. One tap on the display and the electric car finds its way into the space so quickly and cleanly that even experienced city drivers cannot reproduce it. And: unlike almost all similar systems, there is no need to brake or change the driving gear; in this respect, the BMW really does work autonomously, but still needs to be manually monitored.

Every iX1, on the other hand, has a powertrain that is efficient and economical by the standards of a compact SUV. The iX1 may be BMW’s smallest SUV, but it is still almost the same size as a VW Tiguan. The average consumption was 18.9 kWh / 100 km, resulting in a calculated 342 km. The spectrum went from a minimum of 11.6 kWh in flowing city traffic to 14.6 kWh in interurban driving, around 22 kWh at top speed to over 30 kWh at full power on the motorway. These are good values, especially since the iX1’s frontal area is just that of an SUV, so poor.

Given the quality of the battery-electric powertrain, we are eagerly awaiting the series that will arrive in 2025 as the New Class, which is designed exclusively as an electric car. Can progress still be made, and how great will it be?

A reasonable value for money

It is well known that BMW traditionally takes it from the living. A 55,000 euros basic price is not exactly cheap, and commercial customers have to check carefully what is booked as an extra if they absolutely want to stay under the German subsidy threshold of 60,000 euros. Above that, the taxation of the non-cash benefit of the private use of a company car increases from a quarter of a per cent per month to half. The iX1 undoubtedly costs significantly money than its competitors. A sober look at the price lists, however, reveals that there are quite a few manufacturers who also charge prices in the region of up to 60,000 euros for less high-quality cars. That it is easily possible to push the BMW iX1 with M sports package, the best assistance systems and leather upholstery far beyond this is a matter of honour.

BMW, that much is obvious, wants to pick up its very own clientele with the iX1. Those people who don’t ask themselves whether a Hyundai Ioniq 5 is cooler than a Tesla Model Y. But the others who are actually interested in the iX1. But the others who are actually only wondering which premium product it should be this time. Noise comfort and build quality, chassis tuning and steering, sorry dear community, but these points are superior to BMW.

The buyers get something for their money. And word is spreading that BMW builds very good electric cars. Chairman Zipse’s public relations work is clear: with the multi-drive strategy, they want to take every customer with them and not alienate any. This is possibly better marketing than the behaviour of Herbert Diess, who gave many Golf customers the feeling that they should order the ID.3 instead.

Reporting by Christoph M. Schwarzer, Germany.


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