In-depth reviews

BMW iX1 SUV review

“The iX1 is the electric version of the BMW X1 SUV, so it has many of the same qualities: it’s good to drive and feels upmarket”

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Pros

  • Fast
  • Roomy
  • Feels familiar

Cons

  • Weight ruins driving experience
  • Not as versatile as petrol X1
  • Middling range figures

Many modern electric cars are designed from the start to use batteries only, but the BMW iX1 is not one of them. It’s closely related to the petrol and diesel-powered BMW X1 SUV and has been modified to accept batteries and electric motors. This is good and bad - it means there are some compromises, but it also looks a lot like a normal car inside and out.

So along with the BMW X1’s petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines, there is now the BMW iX1’s fully-electric set-up. Being a small premium SUV, the iX1 has lots of rivals including the Volvo XC40 Recharge (and the sleeker C40), the Mercedes EQA, the Lexus UX 300e and the Audi Q4 e-tron. All of these are aimed at people who want an upmarket SUV but don’t need something large and imposing like one of BMW’s more expensive models.

Like with many of the brand’s cars, the iX1 differentiates itself from the competition by being more enjoyable to drive. It’s more satisfying in corners than the XC40 or the EQA and has plenty of performance to enjoy as well. It’s not as good to drive as any of the combustion-powered X1 models, though, because the iX1 is very heavy. Weight is rarely desirable in cars because it means stiffer, more uncomfortable suspension has to be fitted to control the mass, among other things.

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There’s only one version in the range right now, which is a two-motor model with four-wheel drive and a 66.5kWh battery. This enables a range of 270 miles according to official numbers, although in a recent test against the Volvo C40 Recharge we achieved a real-world figure of 201 miles (the C40 achieved 194 miles despite claiming 300 miles).

While these xDrive models produce lots of grip, they aren’t cheap: the iX1 costs more than £51,000, some £15,000 more than the entry-level X1. But as with the firm ride and the range figure, this is what you’ll pay for an equivalent car from a rival brand – even if it’s more expensive than the impressive Kia EV6 or Nissan Ariya.

In September 2023 BMW announced a new eDrive20 model would join the range, with a greater focus on efficiency and an improved electric range, along with a lower starting price from just over £44,000. The brand claims a range of up to 296 miles.

Trim levels

Power options

  • Sport
  • xLine
  • M Sport
  • iX1 eDrive20
  • iX1 xDrive30 

BMW iX1 alternatives

Premium small electric SUVs

Hybrid SUVs

Petrol SUVs

Range, charging & running costs

The BMW iX1’s range and fast-charging may not be class-leading, but both should be sufficient for the majority of buyers

From launch, the BMW iX1’s 67kWh battery enabled a maximum driving range of between 259 and 270 miles, but the brand introduced an eDrive20 model with an improved official range of 296 miles to go on sale from November 2023. This higher figure puts the eDrive20 ahead of the Mercedes EQA and just about on par with the entry-level Volvo XC40 Recharge – higher spec variants are still able to travel much further than the iX1, however. It’s pretty good and should be plenty for most people, but long-distance drivers might be better served by the Kia EV6 or Skoda Enyaq iV.

The 130kW charging capability is on a par with the likes of the Enyaq and the Volkswagen ID.4, albeit a bit short of the figures achievable on the EV6 or Hyundai Ioniq 5. A top-up from 10-80% charge takes just under half an hour, while a home wallbox will fully charge the battery overnight.

Model 

Battery size

Range

iX1 xDrive30

iX1 eDrive20 

66.5kWh

66.5kWh

259-270 miles

268-296 miles

Electric motor, drive & performance

Dual-motor iX1 is very quick, but its heavy weight is unfortunately obvious

The dual-motor, four-wheel-drive powertrain that’s available is potent. Its 309bhp is more than you get in the performance-led ID.4 GTX; consequently, the iX1 is very quick from a standing start. The sprint from 0-62mph takes just 5.6 seconds, and there’s even a boost function that provides full power for a limited time. Unlike some electric cars, you don’t get the sense that the iX1 is running out of puff at motorway speeds.

If you’d like to hide the zero-emission powertrain from your friends and family, there is the option of a synthesised engine note. It’s meant to sound like a six-cylinder engine and sort of does, but it feels a little forced and unnecessary. Turn it off and you’re aware that the iX1 is very refined; you can’t even hear the electric motor that’s just in front of you. Like numerous electric cars, the quietness does amplify the wind rush around the wing mirrors at higher speeds, but this isn’t too disturbing.

As touched on above, the iX1 is more engaging to drive than its nearest competitors. But drive the iX1 after a petrol-powered X1 and you’ll come away disappointed by the EV. As it’s significantly heavier, the iX1’s responsiveness is blunted. BMW hasn’t managed to hide the extra weight, and has fitted a firmer suspension setup to cope. It may have adaptive suspension as standard, but the ride is notchy and sometimes a little crashy.

We’re yet to try the latest eDrive20 variant, but its focus on greater efficiency and improved range comes at the expense of some of the performance of the xDrive30, so it likely won’t feel as quick. It gets a 201bhp electric motor powering just the front wheels, with a 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds and an electronically-capped top speed of 106mph.

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

iX1 xDrive30

iX1 eDrive20

309bhp

201bhp

5.6s

8.4s

111mph

106mph

Interior & comfort

Well-built and well-appointed; the iX1 feels like an expensive car inside

The BMW X1 might be the brand’s entry-level SUV, but it doesn’t come across like that inside. Luxurious materials and an impressive build quality go some way to backing up the iX1’s price. Just forget that the standard (less expensive) X1 gets the same high-spec cabin. The dashboard features two large screens – one for driving information and one for infotainment – and these come as standard.

Following the introduction of the eDrive20 model, the iX1 is now available in three trim levels: Sport, xLine and M Sport. Standard equipment includes the BMW Maps navigation system, dual-zone climate control, plus plenty of driver assistance and safety kit including parking assist and a reversing camera.

xLine gives a rugged, off-road-esque appearance while M Sport is sportier, as the name suggests. Both models get heated front seats, while M Sport adds a racier look and some additional features like wireless phone charging and extended LED lighting.

Key features

 

 

Sport

  • Sat-nav and touchscreen infotainment

  • Dual-zone air conditioning

  • Reversing camera

  • Parking Assistant

     

xLine

(Sport plus...)

  • 18-inch alloy wheels

  • Heated seats

M Sport

(xLine plus…)

  • 19-inch alloy wheels
  • Sports seats
  • Sportier-looking body 
  • Wireless phone charging
  • Extended LED lighting

Practicality & boot space

The iX1 delivers on the practicality front, even if it’s not quite as versatile as a petrol X1

BMW’s X1 badge suggests that this car will be cramped inside, because it’s seemingly the smallest BMW SUV. That’s actually the coupe-inspired BMW X2; the X1 is surprisingly roomy inside. There’s plenty of space for four large adults and enough space between the seats that kids might not be able to kick your seatbacks. 

It’s a shame that the rear seats don’t slide fore and aft like they do in the petrol and diesel versions, while the iX1 has a transmission tunnel that robs space from the middle-seat passenger. Cars designed from the outset to be electric-only don’t tend to have this tunnel, so something like a Hyundai Ioniq 5 might be more spacious if every seat is going to be occupied on a regular basis. Make sure you and your passengers are happy with the slightly raised floor in the rear, too.

Size comparison

Model 

Length

Width

Height

BMW iX1

4,500mm

1,845mm

1,616mm

Volvo C40 Recharge

4,440mm

1,910mm

1,591mm

Mercedes EQA

4,463mm

1,834mm

1,615mm

Lexus UX 300e

4,495mm

1,840mm

1,545mm

Boot space

The 490-litre boot is a perfectly decent size. It’s a whole 150 litres more than the space you get in a Mercedes EQA, and more than some cars from the next size up (such as the Nissan Ariya and Toyota bZ4X). There’s a cable storage area under the boot floor, which is handy as long as you haven’t made full use of the cargo capacity.

Boot space comparison

Model 

Boot space

BMW iX1

490 litres

Volvo C40 Recharge

413 litres

Mercedes EQA

340 litres

Lexus UX 300e

367 litres

Reliability & safety

BMW’s owner satisfaction could be better; safety shouldn’t be in doubt

The diesel BMW X1 was tested by safety organisation Euro NCAP in 2022 and was awarded a full five-star score – with impressive ratings of more than 75% in each of the four categories: adult occupant protection (86%), child occupant protection (89%), vulnerable road users (76%) and safety assist (92%). This assessment also applies to the electric iX1.

On the reliability front, BMW finished 21st out of 32 brands in our 2023 Driver Power survey. That’s a few places higher than rivals Audi and Mercedes, even with the fact that nearly one in four BMW-owning respondents reported a fault within the first year of ownership. Buyers love the brand’s infotainment systems and driving style of their cars; value for money isn’t rated so highly.

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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