In the electric vehicle market, the SUV sector is so important that manufacturers rarely offer just one option. BMW offer three – four if you count the ultra-lux and extremely quick BMW iX M60 as a separate model to the iX. Seeing that in the ICE sector, BMW has seven models, there could be more electric models to come, too.
The BMW iX1 is the smallest and most affordable electric SUV in the range. It has the same chassis as the X1 model, which comes in petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid forms, continuing the trend of BMW models that have an electric version as another engine choice rather than a completely different model. That’s also the case for the recent BMW i7, which shares its chassis with all new 7-series models. This is a different approach from many other companies entering the electric car market. While it doesn’t allow a radical reinvention in the way a dedicated electric model might, it does provide a logical progression for the customer.
This model first launched in 2022, making it one of the newest additions to the range. In creating something to fit this price point, the BMW iX1 does feel a little paired back compared to the other electric models. However, it’s still a very good-looking car – inside and out – and is a lot of fun to drive. I spent a week behind the wheel to see how it performs.
Price and availability
Prices for the BMW iX1 start from £53,295. It comes in two main forms: the xLine, which is the base model and the M Sport, which adds more power and a lot of the technology extras as standard. The model I tested, the BMW iX1 xDrive30 M Sport starts from £56,045 and as tested was £66,035.
For those not ready to go fully electric, a similarly specced Plugin hybrid X1 xDrive30e M Sport is £54,595 and starts from £48,965 without the extras.
Design and features
The general shape of the BMW iX1 is very similar to the iX3 and X5 / iX models. It doesn’t have the lower swoop of models like the X2 and X4, it looks much more as you expect an SUV to look. That’s not to stay it’s completely utilitarian though. It has the trademark kidney grill on the front – though not as big as the iX – and the narrow glass of the adaptive LED headlights at the front, while the back does slope in slightly, with a small spoiler above the rear window.
The xLine edition has some cool-looking blue accents around the grill, along the skirting as well as the corners of the front and rear air channels. However, the M Sport keeps these body coloured. Basic non-metallic colours are limited to just white or black (on the xLine only), but there is a range of metallic colours for an extra fee, as well as the premium Frozen Pure Grey option, which does look particularly impressive.
As standard, the iX1 sits on 18-inch alloys, with options for a 19-inch. The M Sport comes with the 19-inch wheel as standard. There are cloth and leather interior options available, as well as a range of trims that run across the bottom of the dash and onto the front doors.
Inside, a long curved display extends from behind the steering wheel across to the centre of the dash. This impressive display actually incorporates two separate screens: a 10.25-inch instrument display and a 10.7-inch touch display. There are also a few manual buttons on the central console, though not the large glass rotating dial seen on higher-end models.
On the M Sport, there is a paddle to the left of the steering wheel with a Boost, which when pulled, switches the car into Sport mode for a short burst, making it ideal for overtaking. It also has a small M Sport logo on the leather steering wheel.
Unless you’re opting for the ultimate M Sport package, not a lot of the technology comes as standard. The Technology Plus pack (an additional £1205 on the M Sport or £2890 on the xLine) includes the augmented route guidance and head-up display as well as the Parking Assistant Plus system that uses the cameras to provide a birds-eye view of the car, which is really handy for lining up the car.
One of my favourite features on the iX1 is the adaptive LED headlights. These include an automatic range control, daytime and cornering lighting, as well as auto 12-section high beam headlights. When driving at night, these high beams switch on, bathing the road and the surrounding signs in light, but create dark areas around any other cars, so that it doesn’t dazzle them.
Driving Assistant Professional is another optional extra and provides active cruise control as well as Steering and Lane Control Assistant. The model I tested didn’t have this included, but as I’ve tested the system on other BMW electric models, I can confirm that it’s a very capable system.
The iX1 currently runs the BMW iDrive OS8 infotainment system, which is a very clear and simple system to navigate. It is also backed up with a capable voice assistant that can access all of the controls otherwise accessed from the screens. It also connects wirelessly with your phone to run either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. However, when using Google or Apple Maps, the navigation doesn’t show on the driver’s instrument panel or the head-up display, so it’s often better to stick to the BMW maps.
Driving and performance
The iX1 features a 64.7kWh battery, which on the xLine model is estimated to deliver up to 272 miles of range. On the M Sport version, which has an impressive 313hp, this drops to 259 miles of range. That realistically gives you around 180 miles to play with between 10% and 80% charge, and that’s before you take into account cold weather, air conditioning and motorway driving.
So while the iX1 is more than adequate for short distances, longer ones require a little more planning. It would be great to see a slightly larger battery in here to reduce that range anxiety but the number of EV charging stations, especially at motorway services, is finally starting to grow, with larger banks of fast chargers appearing. The iX1 also supports charging speeds of up to 130kW which is about as powerful as most fast chargers in the UK really deliver.
I drove the BMW the 200-mile round trip to London and found charging stations much easier to come by. As always though, I would recommend that you need a home charger if you’re going to own a fully electric car.
Forgetting that range though, the iX1 is great fun to drive. For an SUV it feels quite compact, which is helped by a relatively low dash and driving position. It’s extremely nippy around town and when you put it into sport mode, it really flies. It’s not the crazy power you get from the BMW iX M60 but it’s fast enough to leave petrol models standing.
Like the other BMW electric models, this features the option of the IconicSounds Electric, as created by Hans Zimmer. The noise as you accelerate is really pleasing, while not attempting to mimic the sound of a petrol engine.
If you are looking for a fun and affordable electric SUV, the BMW iX1 is certainly one to consider. Smaller and lighter than the BMW iX (and the iX3), this model still provides plenty of room inside for passengers and luggage, but feels easier to drive around town.
If you’re looking for a long range car however, there are other models to consider. That 300-mile barrier, feels significant these days, and more and more models are passing it.
If you do want something for longer drives and aren’t quite ready to go fully electric, the BMW X1 plug-in hybrid is a great choice. This offers the same look and feel as the iX1 – along with all the same technology options. The electric engine will give you upto 56 miles of range, which is plenty for city driving, while for longer distances you can switch to the petrol engine and get up to 42mpg.
The Skoda Enyaq iV 80 is one of the best value electric SUVs on the market right now. It starts from just £42,925 and offers up to 339 miles of range. If you want something sportier, there’s also the Skoda Enyaq iV Coupe vRS which isn’t as quick as the iX1 M Sport but it does look the part.
Alternatively, the Audi Q4 e-tron is a medium-sized electric SUV, with a slightly larger 76.6kWh battery, delivering up to 321 miles of range. This starts from £50,625, with the S Line 50 e-tron from £57,695.