New BMW iX M60 2023 review
The M60 offers outstanding performance for a car of its size, but it doesn't completely outshine the lower-priced members of the iX range
This range topping version of the iX delivers mind-bending performance for an SUV, and manages to blend handling and refinement like no other electric rival. However, this sporty M60 version is less comfortable, less efficient and more expensive than the iX xDrive40 M Sport - and the added sharpness isn’t enough to justify those compromises.
Of all the possible cars to be suited to an EV powertrain, a luxury SUV has to be right at the top. Qualities like smoothness, refinement and comfort are all high on the agenda, and with so much space for large battery packs, it’s possible to extract a decent range without compromising on practicality, either.
The BMW iX has already proven that it's able to deliver all this in xDrive40 and xDrive50 editions, but the M60, driven here in the UK for the first time, is what happens when you want to inject a bit of sportiness into that equation.
It’s a significant model in terms of what to expect from BMW’s performance cars in future, too - along with the i4 M50, it’s one of M Division’s first stabs at a fully electric vehicle. Don’t be expecting a high-riding electric M4 CSL here, though. Think less ‘hardcore M division monster’ and more ‘regular iX with the heat turned up’.
Car group tests
Still, there are plenty of specs on-paper that all sound very promising. The M60’s body structure is constructed with a mix of aluminium and carbon fibre reinforced plastic - a combination designed to maximise body rigidity while trimming every kilo possible. At 2.6 tonnes, it’s still a very hefty bit of kit, mind you, but the 116kWh battery is slung low beneath the car’s cabin, so the bulk of that mass is kept close to the ground. Despite the bluff face and chunky body, the aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.26 is very slippery, too.
Then there’s the not insignificant matter of 619bhp and a huge 1,100Nm torque output. The latter number is on tap when you engage launch control - without it there’s ‘just’ 1,015Nm to play with. The result is a 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds - the same as the X5M Competition - and a limited top speed of 155mph.
The iX M60 feels every bit as staggering as the numbers suggest in the real world. It launches forward in a truly surreal fashion for something so large, pinning you back into the seat and causing an involuntary tightening of your grasp on the steering wheel. It can sound suitably dramatic too, if you want to engage the space-age sound effects developed by movie composer Hans Zimmer.
The iX’s chassis has the tech to keep up with that rush, too. Suspension is a double wishbone arrangement up front and double-arm layout at the rear, with both ends suspended by air springs and controlled by adaptive dampers. Electric steering works on both axles, with the rears able to turn in the opposite direction to the fronts, slashing the turning circle at low speeds (you can see it in action when you glance in your side mirrors while parking), and to turn with the fronts to improve high speed stability.
It genuinely handles well, not only beside other large EVs, but by the standards of any luxury performance car. Yes, you can always feel the weight - hustling this iX along a road quickly can feel like a bit of a wrestling match, so you have to get what is often a significant speed scrubbed off before entering a corner - but on turn-in it’s easy to feel both a deeply impressive balance to the chassis and a confident, progressive push from the rear axle as you accelerate out of the other side. Sometimes the steering feels almost too quick for the weight of the body to keep up, but it’s well-judged and precise.
The M60 is certainly sharper than the already fine-handling lesser iX models, but the downside is that some of their superb ride comfort has been sacrificed. Over some larger bumps, the body rocks around in a way that the less potent versions don’t, and there’s a little more jiggling at low speeds, thanks in part to the enormous 22-inch alloy wheels. There’s a touch more road noise, too. We’re nit-picking on both counts, though - at under 30mph it’s still near silent, and over bumps it’s still smoother than the (also deeply relaxing) Audi Q8 e-tron and on another planet to the Tesla Model X in terms of suspension sophistication.
One place where it can’t compete with the Tesla, however, is its efficiency. The sub-zero temperatures experienced during our week at the wheel certainly have an adverse effect on range, but an average rating of 1.8 miles per kilowatt hour during our time with it is pretty severe. If you can afford £116,000, it’s not likely to be your biggest concern, but our time with an xDrive40 M Sport in conditions almost as cold threw up an average figure of 3.0mi/kWh. Charging is suitably rapid, though. Despite the vast 116kWh pack, it’s possible to lift the charge from 10-80 per cent in 39 minutes thanks to a 195kW peak charging speed.
Elsewhere, the iX maintains its usual strengths. The cabin design is unlike anything else on the market; the modern design manages to be minimalist yet superb ergonomically. The quality is flawless, too, while the addition of soft-close doors and a wonderful Bowers & Wilkins sound system make this feel like a true luxury car. Other standard kit includes laser headlights, ventilated and heated front seats with a massaging function, and the latest BMW iDrive 8 system with its huge curved display that appears to float above the dashboard.
The same goes for the cabin space. Those in the back are treated to acres of head and knee room, while a 500-litre boot out back means that there’s loads of space for luggage.
However, this peak iX spec doesn't come cheap. Prices start from £116,000 - over £17,000 more than the xDrive50 model that has a better range, better comfort and is still hardly a slouch in a straight line.
|Model:||BMW iX M60|
|Powertrain:||112kWh batt/2x e-motors|
|Transmission:||Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive|
|Range:||348 miles (WLTP)|
|Charging:||195kW (10-80% 39mins)|
Now read our in-depth review of the BMW i4...