A great electric SUV with an expensive badge
The BMW iX1 is a deceptively sized and beautifully designed electric car that falls under the luxury car tax and is currently the cheapest electric car the company sells in Australia. It’s what BMW considers a small SUV, and from the pictures, you might think the automaker was kidding, but it’s not very big, rather it’s a sleekly sized car with a sporty feel and a premium cabin. However, in terms of value, this is a tough proposition – much of the price is down to the BMW badge and the luxurious performance the badge promises.
I spent a week with the BMW iX1, and this is my opinion of the car.
The BMW iX1: not the tank you might think
The BMW iX1 EV is an electric car built on a gasoline propulsion system. Aesthetically, the car is distinguished from its fuel-based counterparts by its plastic grille, which maintains the aesthetic of the brand’s front end with a touch of the future. It’s a nice-looking car, no doubt, but as I mentioned, the pictures make it look gigantic. Even though the BMW is an SUV, it’s no larger than a Tesla Model Y. Boot space This car has a 490-litre boot (1,495 liters with the seats down) – ‘small’ isn’t it.
This car is a road missile, with a boost button behind the steering wheel that shifts the car into a temporary sport mode, with 0-100km/h taking just 5.6 seconds. While other electric cars simply offer a quick switch of driving modes, the boost button fills this gap by quickly applying engine boost to the car for a short period (to park in front of the car, for example, or to merge onto the highway). It feels like a video game button.
It was cool, sure, but it’s a gimmick, right? It’s a temporary increase in speed that becomes redundant once the car is put into ‘Sport’ mode (an option in the infotainment system). It mostly adds to the experience as an aesthetic option, which will certainly be attractive to some drivers, but other drivers may just want a simple driving position. However, it was great when hitting the boost button and merging onto the freeway, or turning onto a road with a flow of traffic (safely, of course – I’m not experienced).
Sitting on an all-wheel-drive platform, the iX1’s road presence is incredible. Driving around windy roads I definitely like I love How this thing handled, and when making tight turns, I was very impressed with the iX1’s turning circle. It’s able to turn tighter than I expected, making it easy to slide into my tight parking lot, even if it’s a large car. This was enhanced by the car’s 360-degree camera display, which made fitting into tight gardens a non-issue.
Precision German engineering
Speaking of the operating system, I was using Android Auto (wireless) mostly throughout my week in the car, and that wireless connectivity certainly added to the experience. I was also impressed with the seat belt in the car for phones. Yes, the wireless charger holder is housed in a totem-like structure underneath the car’s infotainment system, and is placed upright with the seatbelt secured over it so the phone doesn’t fly to the back of the car when you hit the pedal.
I I love How well everything just worked. Android Auto will turn on automatically, map directions will be displayed on the 3D screen in front of the driver, and if necessary, there will also be USB ports.
The sound system was amazing, and while I wasn’t the biggest fan of the seats in the car (the material was a little hard for my liking), BMW offers a generous level of height, depth and lumbar adjustment to make it right for you.
And all of this really represents the value that the iX1 offers. The battery has a WLTP range of 440km, with a maximum charging speed of 130kW (which most general DC chargers will be able to facilitate).
At this point, while appreciating how well this all works for BMW (the infotainment system has to be among my favorites), I begin to question the value the iX1 offers.
It is located within walking distance of Model Y
The BMW iX1 is currently priced from $84,990 in Australia before on-road costs, putting it in competition with the Tesla Model Y Long Range ($78,400), Lexus UX300e ($82,530), and Volvo XC40 Recharge ($76,990). If we move to the next type of tier, we can add the base Model Y to this list, along with the Kia EV6 ($67,990) and Hyundai Ioniq 5 ($72,000).
Now, BMW fans may disagree, but at $84,990, I didn’t really see enough interesting features to justify choosing the BMW over many of these alternatives. The iX1 has more interior storage space than many of these other cars, sure, but that’s no real reason to spend $6,600 more than a Tesla Model Y.
It feels nicer to be inside than some of these other cars (I definitely preferred the iX1’s cabin over the EV6 and Model Y, but maybe not over the Ioniq 5), but again, I think the savings are inevitable when we’re talking about it. this a lot of money.
And just speaking of power, for a moment – most of these other cars offer more range than the iX1, and often have faster DC charging speeds. They all also have fairly fast acceleration speeds – perhaps not as quick as the iX1, but still enough to overtake most petrol-engined cars when merging into the road.
If you’re looking for value, the good news is that BMW will soon be bringing the cheaper iX1 “eDrive 20” model (the model I drove was the eDrive 30) to Australia with a starting price of $78,900, albeit with some features removed.
BMW iX1: luxury badge and boost button
Let’s not beat around the bush. You pay for the badge with BMW. There’s a fair amount of prestige and excitement about this car that its contemporaries can’t match, and it feels great on the road, no doubt (it’s an all-wheel drive car, after all, which adds a lot to its road feel).
The BMW iX1 is an excellent car. It’s fast, has a phenomenal operating system, has good manners and is very posh. It’s everything someone shopping for $85,000 would need.
But with a cheaper model on the horizon, it might be worth weighing your options against less expensive alternatives.
Photo: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia
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