Let’s face it: even ten years after its appearance in the automotive landscape, Tesla is still the player to beat in the EV game. Indeed, it seems mainstream brands still haven’t managed to crack the code to Tesla’s untouchable energy efficiency, range, performance, and downright quirkiness. Perhaps BMW has an ace up its sleeve though with the equally bizarre and mind-blowingly fast iX M60. Curious to see if it has what it takes to convince a Model X owner to switch over to a German carmaker, I took BMW’s high-performance electric SUV out for a week’s drive, during winter, to see how it performs.
Hyperpop Styling, Perhaps?
BMW doesn’t say this publicly, but there could be a link between the iX’s strange design and the Hyperpop genre that manifested itself during the early to mid-2010s. The styling is characterized by a maximalist and often exaggerated appearance, blending contrasting shapes and colours, taking the beholder out of their comfort zone during the process.
I personally don’t hate the way the iX M60 looks, but I don’t love it either. I qualify it as intriguing. From the rear, it looks like a very modern BMW crossover, but from the side profile, it just appears like a block. The stubby nose gives it awkward proportions, while the quintessential BMW kidney grille is no longer an actual grille, but rather a slab of plastic on a tapered snout.
It’s unusual. Like the Tesla
Model X, it appears like something that has warped in from another dimension. I’ll even add that at $139,802 including freight, this rather loaded iX M60 is a bargain next to the $156,000 Tesla.
Equally Strange Inside
That weirdness is carried over inside where the iX’s front seating area reminds me of a Ford Econoline panel van in the sense that you sit upright in it, with a commanding view of the road and lots of legroom underneath the dashboard. This is one of the many benefits of a platform that’s dedicated to building electric vehicles. Since you delete most of the mechanical components, you end up with greatly improved cabin space.
In the iX’s case, this added room gives way to more technology, such as the massive BMW Curved Display screen that’s bolted onto the dashboard and controls everything on the car. There’s also a floating center console with the rotary knob dial that serves as the operating apparatus to the always excellent iDrive infotainment system. And in typical BMW fashion, the ergonomics in this vehicle are on point.
Everything is easy to find, with a nearly seamless user experience as you surf through the iX’s various menus and apps. I’m not sure about the flimsy wood finish on that console, however, nor the seat controls that appear to have been cut out of a diamond. It’s all very kitsch. And don’t get me started on the shape of the steering wheel. Is that even a shape? Everything is unsettling when you’re driving an iX, but that also seems to be the point.
And the iX is massive inside considering its size. While it’s technically smaller than a Model X or even, a Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV
– offering no third-row seating – the rear seating area has fantastic leg and head clearance, even for tall passengers.
Fast and Efficient
History has shown us that when BMW slaps the M letter onto one of its vehicles, it isn’t messing around. In that respect, the iX is no exception.
For a 5,697-pound electric SUV to be qualified as a high-performance machine, it needs a ton of power. BMW grabs the bull by the horns by fitting a massive 105.2 kWh usable (111.5 kWh total) liquid-cooled battery underneath the iX’s body. It powers two electric motors, one installed on each axle, for a combined output of 610 horsepower and 749 lb-ft of torque, allowing this behemoth to launch from 0 to 100 km/h in an impressive 3.4 seconds using launch control. I repeat: three point four seconds. That’s downright insane.
Range, according to Natural Resources Canada, is rated at 441 km in ideal conditions. The iX will accept up to 190 kW of charging power on a compatible level 3 fast charger, which translates into a 39-minute 10 to 80 per cent charge.
When I unplugged the iX from my level 2 home charger during a chilly early December morning at which the thermometer read -6 degrees Celsius, its onboard computer displayed a range estimate of 363 kilometers. That was without pre-heating its cabin. However, after a 158 km highway run, I recorded a consumption average of 26.7 kWh/100 km. This is excellent efficiency considering the weather in which I was driving the darn thing. It’s on par with a Tesla Model X even and it all translates to a real-world range of 394 kilometers, better than what the car had promised when I had unplugged it at home.
Of course, these numbers drastically climb when fiddling around with the iX M60’s available performance. Launching this machine from a standstill never gets old. It’s bloody fast! What’s particularly entertaining about accelerating hard with this SUV isn’t the neck-snapping G-force it’ll generate, but rather the synthesized engine sounds that were composed by none other than famous movie composer Hans Zimmer.
Honestly, it felt like I was piloting some sort of futuristic time-travelling device. It was super cool up until I attempted to attack a corner quickly with the M60, at which point its chassis tuning had more in common with a block of concrete.
But hey, at least it’s highly entertaining to drive, meaning BMW’s M division managed to safeguard its excellent reputation for performance. The iX M60 also happens to be a fantastic EV in the sense that it’s very efficient and wonderfully practical. So if you’re not too keen in encouraging Mr. Musk these days for obvious reasons, then BMW will be happy to sell you an electric SUV that’s just as appealing as a Tesla.
2023 BMW iX M60
Five-door midsize SUV
Dual electric motors all-wheel drive
105.2 kWh usable (111.5 kWh total) liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery powering two electric motors installed on each axle (front motor: 190 kW or 258 hp / rear motor: 360 kW or 489 hp. Total combined output of 610 hp and 749 lb-ft of torque.
: Single-speed direct drive
CHARGING POWER ON LEVEL 3 FAST CHARGER (400 VOLTS):
195 kW or 10 to 80% in 39 minutes.
: 26.8 kWh/100 km (city) / 27.2 kWh/100 (highway) / 26.17 kWh/100 km (combined).
OBSERVED ENERGY CONSUMPTION
: 26.7 kWh/100 km
1,019 liters (1,750 liters total)
$139,802 (as tested)