HOW do you make a car like the iX1 exciting?
It’s a huge challenge.
For starters, it’s a small SUV, arguably the most bland type of car.
Second, it’s purely electric, which means it doesn’t have the drama or thrill of a gas engine.
But because it’s BMW, they’ve found a way to make it more fun, and that’s by giving it the feel of an arcade game.
Anyone who has ever played Gran Turismo or Need For Speed will be familiar with the Nitro boost button.
Flick the steering wheel paddle on the iX1 and you get a ten-second burst.
Which you can use again and again, until you run out of battery and have to behave like an adult.
Then there’s augmented reality satnav, which is just a fancy term for touchscreen infographics.
When approaching a crossroads, large chevron-shaped arrows indicate the direction to follow. Like on Mario Kart.
Key figures: BMW iX1 XDRIVE30
Battery: 64.7 kWh
Top speed: 112mph
Electrical range: 272 miles
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No German word for ‘bad’
You can even select your own soundtrack which was created by a Hollywood composer.
The only thing I couldn’t find was a slot for my £1 coin.
All of the above means that what should be a very boring SUV is actually quite a fun drive.
That said, every inch of this car is typical Beemer.
The way he looks. The way he feels. The way he approaches the road. Smooth. Compound. Accurate. Comfortable. Everything on point.
There is also enough room for adults in the back.
I don’t think there is a German word for “poor quality”. It simply does not exist.
Having driven the iX1 back-to-back with the new petrol and diesel X1s, the only real compromise is how far you can go, in one go.
The official WLTP figure is 272 miles. That will never happen. But BMW is working hard to narrow the gap between assertion and reality, through efficiency.
From my testing, it’s more like 220 miles.
Charging to 80% takes half an hour.
It’s also worth noting that our test car was an xDrive, BMW speaks for four-wheel drive, with an electric motor on each axle.
Later we’ll see an sDrive, which is rear-wheel-drive only. It will go a little further and cost a little less.
Which brings me nicely to the price.
You have to sit down for this piece because it’s expensive. It’s £52,000. The cheapest BMW that saves the planet is FIFTY-TWO THOUSAND GREAT BRITISH POUNDS.
That’s £16,000 more than a diesel X1 that will go twice as far – well north of 500 miles to a tank – and £10,000 more than a petrol X1 xDrive.
Mind you, I noticed a small Honda E is now £37,000. What is the real F.
For those who like the idea of going green but can’t yet, BMW covers all the bases with a plug-in hybrid.
The gas/electric combo will go up to 55 miles in e-mode, so you won’t need to wake the engine on some trips.
It’s also fast when you’re in a hurry.
The X1 xDrive25e is the obvious choice for company car users, with an 8% BiK tax.
To conclude, then. . .
The iX1 and X1 are decidedly modern, good-sized family SUVs.
You’ll love them no matter which powertrain you choose.
But you’ll love them even more when they’re three years old and half the price.