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Test drive of the BMW iX1 and the heavy controversy of the big electric cars


There is something strange and contradictory about large electric cars. It is as if the engineers created them with the idea of ​​solving a problem, but at the first convenient moment they forgot about the problem and completed the project for their own sake. What else is the logic of constructing an electric car the size of real estate… On the one hand, such type of cars are most efficient in the city, but their size makes them completely unsuitable for this same city. Sounds a bit like playing football in heels to us – maybe possible, we admit it might even be pleasing to the eye in some cases, but it’s damn ineffective.

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And this is where compact electric SUV models come in. Big enough to be proud of, luxurious enough to please us and compact enough not to make their electric drive meaningless, and still be a comfortable city car. The new BMW iX1 is just such a car.

The first generation BMW X1 came out in 2009, but it looked less like an SUV and more like a compact hatchback with a slightly higher suspension. Now the situation is different – the third generation of the model is on the market, which has the proportions and appearance of a real SUV model. We had the chance to drive it, and the first thing that struck us was… one extra letter.

the letter “i”

In the world of BMW, the letter “i” means only one thing – an electric motor. And in the case of the BMW iX1, this is no exception. We are talking about the electric version of the X1, which in terms of design differs in almost nothing from the standard model. A quick look, however, revealed a series of small electric blue details that, combined with the test car’s pearl white paint, clearly gave away what was hiding under the hood. The dense “kidneys” in front, too.

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We like that the iX1 isn’t one of those cars that tells everyone else it has an electric motor. Not that there is anything wrong with electric cars with avant-garde design, as if they came out of the future, but sometimes they come to us in excess and we liken them to vegans who like to emphasize at every convenient moment that they are on a plant-based diet.

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With the BMW iX1, “veganism” is what we think it should be – a personal choice that you don’t flaunt or bother others with. It’s debatable how far we have the right, even metaphorically, to mention iX1 and veganism in the same sentence, given that the interior of the test car was covered with the high-quality leather of a large number of cows, but the point is clear.

And just as there are vegans who break records and are leaders in various sports disciplines, so the iX1 has features that impress. The model is available in a version with a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 68 kWh, a power of 313 hp. and a maximum torque of nearly 500 Nm. The good thing is that there are two electric motors, which means that the iX1 has drive on both axles.

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Modification: iX1 xDrive30

Power: 313 hp

Torque: 494 Nm

Acceleration: 5.6 sec. up to 100 km/h

Maximum speed: 180 km/h

Maximum mileage (WLTP): 417 – 440 km

Battery capacity: 68 kW

Basic price: BGN 105,900

In real life, this is felt when accelerating from a standstill, when the car launches quite pleasantly, as well as on winding mountain roads, where the BMW iX1 stands firm and knows how to entertain. We definitely missed the lack of exhaust rumble, but the birds, squirrels and foxes around went about their day undisturbed and unsullied by our passing through their natural habitat.

So about 320 km before needing a charge. According to the standardized WLTP protocol, the catalog data says that the iX1 can travel between 417 and 440 km, but our observations in warm weather and mainly extra-urban driving showed otherwise. It is normal, because the most efficient electric cars are in the city, where the speed is lower, the coupe does not have to fight with the air as much and there are no long climbs.

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Five people can ride comfortably in the interior, and the trunk of the iX1 in this configuration has a volume of 490 liters, which makes it 50 liters smaller than that of the standard model. This is due to the fact that the second electric motor is mounted transversely on the rear axle, which forced the engineers to make the trunk of the iX1 shallower. Still, we find it sufficient except for longer trips with more people, but then you can always put a luggage box on the roof.

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The interior is high quality and the iX1 feels somewhat technological, again without being intrusive. We especially like how the designers solved the “armrest” between the front two seats, which seems to float in the air. It is on it that the controller for the gearbox, as well as the control of the multimedia system, are installed. The latter, for those cases in which you do not use the large curved touchscreen display on the dashboard.

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Naturally, like any self-respecting new electric car, here too we have ambient lighting in a variety of colors, as well as wireless phone charging, almost vertically. We have to admit that we struggle to think of another car that has this type of “stand” and we wonder why – it’s very convenient because the phone’s display is visible and we can even perform some minor operation without disconnecting it from the charger. It’s another question why we should, when there’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay that make it pointless to touch the phone at all.

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May: behaves adequately

Can not: overshadow the comfort of a limousine

He misses it: larger trunk

The main disadvantages of the BMW iX1 are the stiff suspension and the overly complicated menus of the multimedia system. The latter is characteristic of all modern BMW models. It’s great to have a choice, but a long list of small icons of various applications is not the best solution in a car that has the ability to move and shake. Aiming at icons on the fly isn’t the easiest thing to do, and reading the fine print below the icon doesn’t make the task any easier. Or we are for an eye exam, which is not out of the question.

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As for the suspension, it is adaptive and self-adjusts to the driver’s driving style and the road surface. The problem is that the test car had giant 20-inch wheels, and the roads in Bulgaria are not particularly good. Which results in a slightly rough feel from the suspension. Of course, the iX1 never had the pretensions of being a limousine, but we wouldn’t mind a more comfortable suspension.

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We like the BMW iX1 because it’s an adequate electric car. Adequately luxurious, adequately aggressive, adequately fast, adequately big. Without overdoing it. Yes, a higher mileage on a single charge would certainly not be bad news, but even so, this “youth” model allows a lot, and we are used to trusting BMW’s Range indication, which is one of the best and credible in the market. It remains for the power stations to become more and more dense, and everything will be fine.

The article is in Bulgarian

Tags: Test drive BMW iX1 heavy controversy big electric cars


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