BMW iX1 2023 long-term test Car News

iX1 cornering windsor

As an entry point to BMW’s EV line-up, the iX1 makes sense on paper. But did it make sense in the real world?

Why we ran it: To see if BMW’s entry EV was as impressive as its range-topper

Month 6 – Month 5 – Month 4 – Month 3 – Month 2 – Month 1 – Specs

Life with a BMW iX1: Month 6

As an entry point to BMW’s EV line-up, the iX1 makes sense on paper. But did it make sense in the real world? Let’s find out – 13 December

The iX1 has hauled me along for 7000 miles over the past six months: having been as far south as the Lizard in Cornwall and as far north as Keswick, Cumbria, it has literally taken me from one end of England to another.

It was a rocky start, but living with the iX1 soon revealed its practical, attractive qualities in day-to-day driving. For the many long journeys we enjoyed together, the iX1 proved that its trump card is its brilliant powertrain. While it does fall short in the range department, it tackled pretty much any challenge with ease.

Step on the accelerator in any drive mode – from the slightly more laid-back Economy to the more hair-raising Sport – and you’ll never have an issue overtaking or pushing ahead of other drivers at a set of traffic lights, but it’s also easy to drive in London’s 20mph zones.

Some electric cars can be a bit bland because they’re often silent and uninspiring to drive. The iX1 was far from boring: in fact, there wasn’t a week that went by without me finding out something new about the car, both good and bad, be it a hidden gem that made my life marginally easier or a feature that frustrated me.

There’s the selfie camera, for example. It’s not something I’d ever sought out in a car – or even something I really want to see in one again – but actually, it was fun to use on the few occasions I did try it, and it was pure entertainment for my friends.

Either way, I never found myself bored. I even liked the iX1’s Iconic Sounds feature. Petrolheads may hate this manufactured noise, but I enjoyed the space-age feel it added to the cabin.

In terms of refinement, the iX1 was all very BMW. Wind noise was minimal, power was delivered effortlessly and all in it was a very well-put-together product. I had concerns at first about the M Sport suspension fitted to our car, but while it felt firm, it was never an issue.

Overall, the car was as proficient at covering country roads as it was eating up the motorway miles.

As with any long-term test car, there are some shortcomings worth noting. Things didn’t get off to a good start in July, when I lamented BMW’s nonsensical ‘assistance’ tech, specifically the adaptive regenerative braking, which would activate at suboptimal times, such as on motorways.

Perhaps I would have become used to it, but life began to improve significantly as soon as I switched it off.

The iX1 isn’t best in class for range, but I always found myself with enough in the tank, so to speak, and charging was mostly easy. I never reached BMW’s claimed range of 259-272 miles, though.

I’d regularly switch on the fully charged car in the morning with the digital driver’s display reading as low as 202 miles, rising to around 230 miles. The highest figure the car ever returned was 252 miles.

At 135kW, its charging speed isn’t the greatest, although it’s usually fast enough not to test your patience. However, locating a charger to deliver that speed consistently is not easy. I managed to find just two chargers in six months that would charge at the full 135kW, with most others topping out at 77kW.

What the iX1 does have over many of its competitors is ‘plushness’. It has one of the highest-quality interiors of any car in its segment, with premium materials, crisp digital screens and comfortable seats.

Compared with rivals, the 1X1 beats the Tesla Model Y for both interior quality and ride comfort (despite our rather rigid M Sport spec), and it has a far more interesting and premium-feeling cabin than the Audi Q4 E-tron.

It’s just a shame the price is so much higher than that of the combustion-engined X1 (from £34,935) and, like so many EVs, its cheaper running costs won’t claw back the deficit that quickly.

I live in London and am limited mostly to public charging. My closest speedy charger is part of a block of 150kW MFG units at 79p per kWh. I’m in rented accommodation and not able to put in a charger of my own.

In total, using a mix of home and fast charging, I’ve spent £770 on charging in six months. For comparison, an X1 Drive231 M Sport (£42,720) would cost £1303 in fuel over the same mileage at our road test average of 36.2mpg and current petrol prices of 145.71 pence per litre.

So the iX1 has been £533 cheaper. I’ll take that, although I was hoping for a bigger gap.

But let’s go back to our initial question: we ran this iX1 to see if it was as impressive as the iX, BMW’s range-topping electric SUV. So is it? To me, in this segment, I say yes. It was a brilliantly refined car to live with, displaying poise on the road…

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This notice was published: 2023-12-16 00:30:00

By Auto Car

Coach is a weekly British motoring magazine published by Haymarket Media Group. First published in 1895, it bills itself as "the world's oldest automotive magazine."

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