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All-new BMW iX1 review

Tim tries out the new electric offering from BMW.

The all-new BMW iX1

The all-new BMW iX1

If you're considering buying a BMW X1 but are worried about fuel economy, you'll be glad to know there's a solution.

BMW has ripped out the engine and replaced it with an electric motor, producing the iX1.

It has already successfully pulled off the same trick in the all-electric iX3, even though many manufacturers are choosing to return to the drawing board rather than do a like-for-like replacement by thrusting an electric motor beneath the bonnet.

That means BMW now has a direct rival to Audi’s Q4 e-tron, the Mercedes-Benz EQA and Tesla’s Model Y, as well as the Volvo XC40 Recharge.

The fossil-fuelled X1 looks more dynamic nowadays, and the iX1 is virtually identical, with closed kidney grilles the only real giveaway that it's all-electric.

The front appears athletic in the entry-level xLine trim, although the alternative, M Sport, seems even more aggressive, adding a larger lower grille into the mix.

You get dark, rugged-looking cladding on the xLine version, but it’s painted in the body colour on the M Sport trim, whose rear also features more macho styling.

The xLine trim gets 18-inch alloys, a 10.7-inch infotainment screen, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control and adaptive suspension. It also boasts cruise control, a powered tailgate, LED lights and a leather-bound sports steering wheel.

The M Sport gets all the above, with 19-inch wheels and added roof rails, black bodywork, heated front seats and adaptive LED headlights. Electric door mirrors, keyless entry and a wireless phone charger, are also part of the package.

For now, there’s only an all-wheel drive version, called the xDrive30, which has two electric motors. It produces a hearty 313PS, although lower-powered two-wheel drive versions are expected before long.

The PS figure is slightly ambiguous because it generates around 45PS less than this most of the time. Pulling a paddle by the steering wheel provides the total amount of grunt for a limited time to move you off the line as quickly as possible.

With the ‘Boost mode’ engaged, it deals with 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds, with zero delay between pressing the accelerator and the car moving away.

There is plenty of performance in all conditions, and, regarding handling, the adaptive suspension means it’s firm and poised when you throw it into a bend. Yet it becomes squashier and more comfortable travelling along a rutted rural road.

The extra weight of the batteries means it isn’t perfect. And, if you’ve driven a BMW SUV to its limits before, you'll notice that it does wallow about a bit more.

Nevertheless, compared with other all-electric SUVs, the all-new BMW iX1 impresses, even though the steering is a bit light for my taste.

There is a lot of traction in the bends, and although there's an understandable amount of body roll, it’s well curbed by the adaptive suspension.

The driving position is lofty for a small SUV. Hence, front visibility is good - meanwhile, parking sensors and a rear-view camera help to negate any visibility problems out of the rear.

The seats are comfortable, and there's a heap of headroom and legroom in both the front and rear. However, three adults in the back will still be a squeeze.

In the front, the centre console doesn't extend fully forwards, so it isn't connected to the dashboard. But this makes the cabin feel more open and allows space for a couple of cupholders and the wireless charger in the M Sport trim.

As you’d expect in a BMW, the infotainment system is excellent. But there's no rotary control which we're so used to seeing. BMW claims this is because the screen is easy to reach and there's voice control – but it still needs to be more convenient.

You get a 490-litre boot, which is smaller than a Tesla Model Y’s cargo capacity. And it’s 50 litres less than you get from the combustion-engined X1. Furthermore, there’s no storage space under the bonnet, as the electric motor takes up too much room.

The available space expands to 1,495 litres with the rear seats folded down in a handily flexible 40:20:40 split.

In terms of running costs, it’ll be significantly cheaper to run than filling up a petrol or diesel vehicle, despite the soaring price of electricity.

Zero emissions also make it attractive for company car users due to the low benefit-in-kind tax. But that’s true of every electric car, of which there are more and more in the UK.

BMW claims the iX1 can manage 272 miles from a full charge thanks to its 64.7kWh battery. However, the range you achieve will depend on various factors, and, in any event, you'll likely struggle to get close to the above figure.

The charging speed is only 130kW, which is slower than its rivals, taking nearly 30 minutes for a 10-80 per cent full-speed top-up. Meanwhile, a home wall box running at 7kW will take just short of ten hours to get the electric Beemer from empty to full.

The process can be controlled from your smartphone. And, to preserve the battery’s lifespan, it can charge more slowly if you enter your estimated departure time into an app. This ensures it completes the charge just before you leave rather than doing it as quickly as possible.

BMW offers a three-year unlimited-mileage warranty, which is better than some manufacturers but significantly short of Kia's seven-year guarantee. Meanwhile, the battery system gets covered for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

The German manufacturer doesn’t quite enjoy the excellent reputation for reliability that it used to, although we hope the switch to all-electric changes this. Servicing plans are offered, too, if you don’t mind paying a bit extra.

Thinking of making the switch to electric?

Regarding safety, the iX1 hasn't been crash-tested by Euro NCAP boffins. But the standard X1 got a five-star rating, scoring 86 per cent for adults, 89 per cent for kids and 92 per cent for safety assists.

The latter includes front-collision warning with brake intervention, a crossroads warning, a lane departure warning, and an evasion assistant. You also get speed limit information, a reversing assistant with a rear-view camera, cruise control with brake function and a parking assistant with front and rear parking sensors.

Overall, the all-new, all-electric BMW iX1 is a great contender, although it’s costly compared with the standard X1, especially in the M Sport trim.

The performance is stirring, the handling is on key, it offers ample range, and it’s reasonably spacious for a small SUV.

Indeed, the early signs are very encouraging.

Fast facts – BMW iX1 [M Sport trim] as tested

  • Max speed: 112 mph
  • 0-60 mph: 5.6 secs
  • Range (WLTP): 272 miles (64.7kWh battery)
  • Powertrain layout: dual-electric motor with all-wheel drive
  • Max. power (PS): 313PS (with Boost mode activated)
  • CO2: 0g/km
  • Price: £54,960*

*Price correct at time of publication and is subject to change

About the Author

Tim Barnes-Clay

Tim Barnes-Clay is a motoring journalist. He test-drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches worldwide.