10 January 2024

BMW iX1 review: Brian Byrne, Irish Car

One of the most immediate impressions after I took the wheel of BMW's iX1 was just how perfectly right the seating and driving position felt for me, writes Brian Byrne. Not something I'd normally notice, as all driving seats are a compromise in design to try and find an adjusted fit for any size or shape of driver, and take a little time and twiddling to get close to right. The X1 is BMW's smallest SUV format vehicle, though it's actually a compact family size, between Opel's Grandland and Renault's Austral in key dimensions, so also is not in any way a size compromise in this competitive arena.

Distinctiveness in styling in any SUV is dependent on the 'face' it presents, as the shape of all of them is by the nature of the format pretty much the same. BMW is easily recognised by the brand's grille shape, but when compared to the other five or six key models in a very competitive segment, their front looks are becoming quite conservative here. In my review car, though, external brightwork had been replaced by a black theme, and, along with the M-Sport style trimmings, it showed a moody, brooding front. The rear also had an element of tension, thanks to a roof-extending rear spoiler and a surprisingly successful melding of sculpted angles and curves.

The angles that are these days a feature in BMW instruments shapes are also noticeable elements when you sit inside. They promise that the brand famed for its analogue engineering has also embraced the digital age, with attitude. There's attitude too in the satin aluminium finish detailing around the dash, doors and console. And an overall attitude clearly thought through to provide the driver with pretty seamless intuitive control of their vehicle.

It's a quality interior, anthracite and cream stitched leather through the review car with a thin red line across the dash and along the doors hinting at the car's sporty heritage. Take any of the sections as pictures on their own, and they are stylistic masterpieces to my eye, while the design of the physical controls combination on the centre console is an exemplar to be studied by any ambitious car interior designer doing their early years. I have already mentioned driver comfort — the other occupants of the 5-seat car are also well-coddled, albeit three full adults in the rear might feel a squeeze on a long trip. The 490L of luggage capacity is decently generous.

The 'i' suffix of my review car denotes electric vehicle in BMW-speak, so that's what it was. As it had the more powerful of the two available electric motors, my car also came with an adaptive suspension and all-wheel-drive, and the 272hp output rather than 204hp offered a snappier 6.5s to 100km/h. There was a good sense of BMW power in the whole experience, though in smooth and swish instead of growl and grunt. Range is rated at 429km, though in the cool of a rural driving December I was getting less than that. It was still at a comfortable distance, though, and the charging time at my local service area was impressively short.

My overall time with the iX1 was very pleasant. Fun if I fancied a push on. And as a potential family car with more than usual fizz, at the same time environmentally helpful on the road, the car can be considered a viable option for those in the necessary income space.

PRICE: From €52,275; review car with options €74,134. WHAT I LIKED: It was a really good fit for me.