BMW iX1 Review – Best Of The Bunch.

The BMW iX1 is a compact family EV that is more than practical enough for most families.

It seems that BMW’s smallest SUV, the X1, isn’t so small anymore. Echoing the way a modern 3 Series now sprawls into the space once occupied by an older 5 Series, the latest X1 has stretched its limbs to rival the dimensions of the original X3.

It’s a growth spurt that makes you take a second glance, doesn’t it?

BMW’s current playbook involves offering a bouquet of powertrain options across its new fleet (think the iX3, i4, and i7). True to form, the X1 comes in a variety of flavours too. Variety is indeed the spice of life, or so BMW seems to believe. And that has led to the creation of the BMW iX1.

In a ring that includes competitors like the Audi Q4 e-tron, Mercedes-Benz EQA, and Volvo XC40 Recharge, the iX1 is duking it out in an increasingly crowded and cutthroat segment. No pressure then.

subtle is the way to do it.

First, let’s take a moment to praise the growth it has undergone – quite literally. The first iteration of the X1 had a bit of an awkward phase, as if BMW’s distinctive design language was somewhat lost in translation on a frame that didn’t quite fit. Then came the second generation, which showed marked improvements.

But this third generation? It’s a head-turner, striking a pose that finally seems to have found its footing in form and function. Sometimes, bigger really is better.

Sporting the sleek exterior of its latest incarnation, the BMW iX1 subtly distinguishes itself with tasteful blue accents around the kidney grille and angular headlights. These are hints at its electric heart, a welcome approach in a market where some EVs seem to scream their presence with designs too futuristic for their own good.

The iX1 continues this theme of understated elegance with its angular rear lights featuring a 3D effect, a substantial rear window, and sporty embellishments like the roof spoiler and lower-end diffuser.

It strikes a nice balance, offering a facade that reassures rather than intimidates, suggesting that transitioning to electric might just be a stroll in the park.

all grown up.

Step inside, and the iX1 feels every bit a proper, mature member of the BMW family, not just an entry-level afterthought – a trap some of Mercedes’ smallest models can’t seem to evade.

The interior space is identical whether you choose the internal combustion engine or the electric variant, marked by quality craftsmanship, a comfortably sizable steering wheel, and BMW-X-esque seats that seem to envelop you.

The cabin is spacious too. An additional 22mm in the wheelbase makes itself known, especially in the back, where passengers enjoy the kind of legroom typically found in larger SUVs.

A significant interior highlight is BMW’s new Curved Display, merging a 10.25-inch digital dial and a 10.7-inch infotainment screen into one sweeping unit.

This innovation accompanies a major tidying up of the cabin’s physical controls; the most notable absentee being the beloved iDrive rotary controller. While this sleek screen adds to the cabin’s modern flair, it does make interacting with certain functions, like the air conditioning, somewhat more cumbersome.

The minimalist vibe is further underscored by the ‘floating’ centre console, which still hosts essential buttons and the drive selector. Centrally positioned is a wireless charger, cleverly designed to secure your smartphone firmly in place, even as you navigate more spirited drives.

The boot offers 540 litres of space with the seats up and a cavernous 1,600 litres with them down, despite the electric variant sacrificing 50 litres to accommodate the battery pack.

Conveniently, there’s also a dedicated underfloor space for stowing charging cables, and an electric tailgate makes loading cargo effortless.

smooth operator.

BMWs have long been the poster children for dynamic handling and robust powertrains, a tradition that the latest 3 Series upholds with gusto.

But, when it comes to the petrol-powered X1, I’d admit that it left me wanting a little more. It’s not that it underperforms; on the contrary, for most practical purposes, it’s a competent vehicle. 

However, there are moments when you crave that extra punch of power, something the 3-cylinder engine struggles to deliver. Coupled with a seven-speed DCT that occasionally hesitates for the optimal gear (without paddle shifters to offer a helping hand) the drive can feel a bit lethargic.

This brings us neatly to the iX1, which improves on this immensely. It’s certainly no featherweight, tipping the scales at a hefty 2,085kg, which is over 300 kilos more than its petrol sibling. Yet, it manages this bulk with admirable aplomb, thanks to a powertrain that operates with professionalism.

On paper, the iX1’s 148bhp and 250Nm of torque might not make your heart race, but it’s surprisingly adequate for buzzing around Singapore’s streets.

The immediate response of electric acceleration makes weaving through traffic almost an art form, and the iX1 does so with a smoothness that almost makes you forget you’re driving.

Of course, when you compare electric to internal combustion, the electric variant will handsomely win acceleration off the line any day of the week. But, the iX1 is more than that; it shows that with just the right amount of power, driving can become extremely engaging.

Efficiency is pretty respectable too. In my hands, the iX1 managed about 4.8km/kWh with a mix of city drives and highway cruising.

Range anxiety is largely off the table with this one, and should you need a quick top-up, the 130kW DC charger can replenish 80% of the battery in roughly 30 minutes.

this is the sweet spot.

While the X1’s exterior charm, solid construction, and capacious cabin are its undeniable strong suits, the 3-cylinder engine setup didn’t give it enough oomph. Thankfully, the iX1 steps in to pick up the pieces, elevating the entire X1 lineup and allowing it to peer down at the crowded field of compact SUVs from a position of strength.

Overall, the BMW iX1 maintains the sophisticated allure of its predecessors, proving that one can embrace the future without forgoing the familiar comforts and elegance of well-established automotive traditions.

technical specifications.

BMW iX1 eDrive20 xLine

Engine: Single Electric Motor, Front Wheel Drive
Power: 110 kW (148 bhp)
Torque: 250 Nm
Gearbox: Single-Speed (A)
0-100km/h: 10.5 seconds (claimed)
Top Speed: 170 km/h
Battery Capacity: 64.8 kWh
Drive Range: 474 km (claimed)
Energy Consumption: 5.7 km/kWh (claimed)

Price: S$266,888 with COE (accurate at the time of this article)
Contact: Performance Motors / Eurokars Auto

Photo Credits: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)

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Sean Loo

Ignition Labs' resident editor loves all things retro, even though he was born in the late 90s. His main job encompasses tons of driving (and a massive carbon footprint), but he swears he turns off the lights each time he leaves his room.

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