Electric compact SUV: does the BMW iX1 have what it takes to become a bestseller?

The current BMW models probably don't meet the taste of the general public.

Electric compact SUV: does the BMW iX1 have what it takes to become a bestseller?

The current BMW models probably don't meet the taste of the general public. And their engines could be more climate-friendly. But with the new X1 there is now an exception. What a test drive reveals about him.

BMW is actually known for its exposed models. There is the 7 Series, a classic luxury sedan, the even more expensive Super SUV XM or the extra sporty 3 Series. But between all these character types, a silent star has positioned itself: Today, the X1 is one of BMW's bestsellers. So it's no wonder that the Bavarians refrain from any provocation with the third generation of the compact SUV.

And that doesn't just apply to the somewhat more robust, but very consensual design. But that also applies to the technology of the iX1, which is now competing against cars such as the Mercedes GLA or the Audi Q2 at prices starting at 41,400 euros.

While many competitors no longer give their customers a choice between a combustion engine and an electric vehicle, the iX1 offers both and, for those who are undecided, even a plug-in hybrid.

Although the iX1 with a pure electric drive costs at least 55,000 euros, it is the cheapest electric vehicle from Munich and thus also the indirect successor to the revolutionary i3. While the i3 with its 33 kWh battery had a range of 300 kilometers in the best case, BMW installed a 65 kWh battery in the iX1. That's enough in the standard cycle for 440 kilometers. Charging takes place at the wall box with up to 22 kW and at the charging station with 130 kW.

The entry-level Stromer also has the driving pleasure propagated by BMW. Because BMW has given the iX1 a "boost button" that is more familiar from sports cars: as if 200 kW/272 hp weren't enough, the electronics unlock an additional 30 kW/41 hp for ten seconds. This helps above all when overtaking, as does the spontaneous acceleration and a sprint value of 5.6 seconds.

BMW drivers first have to get used to the fact that the iX1 is slowed down again at 180 km/h. At least among the streamers, the iX1 still goes through as an athlete. It also offers the typical advantages of an e-car: there are no disturbing engine noises, and the speed can be regulated with several recuperation levels, largely without the mechanical brake.

The iX1 drives much more committed than many Stromers with a dedicated electric platform. But its front-wheel drive architecture, which is designed for several types of drive, also requires compromises: because the battery needs more space in the floor, there is no sliding rear seat, unlike with the combustion engines. Because the bow also has to accommodate conventional engines, there is not enough space for a "frunk" as additional storage space.

And because its basic construction leaves less space inside, it gets a bit cramped, especially in the back seat. Whereby BMW cleverly conceals this with the growth that is usual with the generation change. Compared to its predecessor, the X1 has two centimeters more wheelbase and five centimeters more length. It now measures 4.50 meters from bumper to bumper and offers 490 to 1495 liters of luggage space.

The range of engines is enormous: in addition to the pure electric vehicle, there are two plug-in hybrids with 176 kW/240 hp or 245 kW/326 hp and an electric range of up to 90 kilometers as well as seven diesel and petrol engines with 100 kW/136 hp up to 155 kW/211 hp to choose from. But no matter which drive you order the X1 with, there are no differences in terms of exterior design and ambience.

The driver also always sits behind the same cockpit, which is a bit reminiscent of its big brother iX. As with the luxury model, the classic instruments have been replaced by a free-standing, slightly curved display and a large touchscreen. And because the voice control now also works perfectly, BMW has summarily discarded the iconic i-Drive controller on the center console and instead designed a more comfortable armrest.

The huge kidney on the 4 Series, the pompous design of the 7 Series and the orgies of performance on the XM - BMW has recently provoked and polarized. But with the X1, the people of Munich don't do any experiments. On the contrary: with its pleasing design, its format suitable for everyday use and, above all, its wide range of engines, the Bavarian is again a potential sales hit.

BMW iX1 30e - technical data (according to the manufacturer)