HOW do you make a car like the iX1 exciting?
It’s a huge challenge.
For a start, it’s a small SUV, arguably the blandest type of car.
Secondly, it’s pure electric which means it hasn’t got the drama or emotion of a petrol engine.
But because it is BMW, they have found a way of making 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.
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Give the steering wheel paddle a flick on the iX1 and you get a ten-second burst.
Which you can use again and again, until you deplete the battery and have to behave like a grown-up.
Then there’s the augmented reality satnav, which is just a posh term for computer graphics on the touchscreen.
As you approach a junction, big chevron-style arrows point which way to go. Like on Mario Kart.
Key facts: BMW iX1 XDRIVE30
0-62mph: 5.7 secs
Top speed: 112mph
Electric range: 272 miles
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No German word for 'shoddy'
You can even select your own soundtrack that has been created by a Hollywood composer.
The only thing I couldn’t find was a slot for my £1 coin.
All of the above means 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 it looks. The way it feels. The way it addresses the road. Smooth. Composed. Precise. Comfortable. Every-thing on point.
There’s a decent amount of room for adults in the back too.
I don’t think there’s a German word for “shoddy”. It just doesn’t exist.
Having driven 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. Never going to happen. But BMW is working its nuts off to narrow the gap between claim and reality, through efficiency.
From my testing, it is more like 220 miles.
Recharging to 80 per cent takes half an hour.
Also worth noting is that our test car was an xDrive, BMW-speak for four-wheel drive, with an e-motor on each axle.
Later we’ll see an sDrive, which is rear-wheel drive only. That will go a bit further and cost a bit less.
Which brings me neatly to the price.
You need to sit down for this bit because it’s expensive. It’s £52k. The cheapest planet-saving BMW is FIFTY-TWO THOUSAND GREAT BRITISH POUNDS.
That’s £16k more than a diesel X1 that’ll go twice as far — well north of 500 miles to a tank — and £10k more than a petrol X1 xDrive.
Mind you, I noticed a little Honda E is now £37k. What the actual F.
For those who like the idea of going green but can’t just yet, BMW is covering all bases with a plug-in hybrid.
The petrol/electric combo will do up to 55 miles in e-mode, so you won’t need to wake the engine on some trips.
It’s also rapid when you’re in a hurry.
The X1 xDrive25e is the obvious choice for company car users, with BiK tax at eight per cent.
To conclude, then . . .
The iX1 and the X1 are thoroughly modern, right-size family SUVs.
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You’ll like them whatever powertrain you choose.
But you’ll like them even more when they’re three years old and half the price.
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