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Long-term tests

BMW iX1 eDrive20 M Sport long-term test: electric SUV is a bit too loud and proud

First report: electric SUV joins our fleet, but something doesn’t sound quite right

Verdict

As efficient, handsome and premium as the BMW iX1 is, the amount of noise, particularly at motorway speeds, makes it difficult for us to appreciate the electric SUV’s other qualities. We can’t blame the car entirely of course, but unless Britain’s motorway network goes through a sudden restoration or we find a different wheel and tyre solution, this issue has the potential to sour our time with what should be an appealing car.

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  • Mileage: 1,417
  • Efficiency: 3.6mi/kWh

The idea of a long-term test is that over a period of weeks and months, we learn new things about the vehicles we’re running. But in the case of this latest arrival, a BMW iX1, I’ve been instantly taken aback by a character trait that I simply hadn’t expected.

You see, the majority of my journeys are spent on the UK’s motorway network – in particular, the soul-sucking stretches of the M25 as I head to Heathrow or Gatwick airports for work-related trips. So if there’s one area where I hoped the iX1 would excel, it’s at tackling longer trips.

I didn’t consider this unreasonable, either. You’d think a premium SUV from BMW would be a great place to soothe away a journey – all the more so when it’s the all-electric version. The M25 is full of ‘Ultimate Driving Machines’ barrelling down the outside lane; it’s like a second home for the brand’s cars, right?

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Not exactly, in the case of the iX1. Because over the first few weeks with the car, I’ve been troubled by the amount of road, tyre and wind noise that encroaches into the cabin at higher speeds. It’s not as if putting on a podcast or music covers it up either – they just add to the general cocktail of sounds and make the situation worse.

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I have to admit that this situation isn’t entirely the car’s fault; it also highlights just how poorly surfaced a lot of the UK’s road network is. The BMW is clearly sensitive to this, though, because the noise it makes is transformed the moment I come across a freshly re-laid patch of asphalt. There just aren’t enough of them, unfortunately.

Nor is it solely a high-speed issue; I can notice road and tyre noise even at speeds as low as 20mph or 30mph. This makes me suspect the specific tyre and 19-inch M Sport rims fitted to our fleet car are also contributing to the issue. A different set of tyres and/or wheels might help mitigate the situation, but I can only guess at this point.

It’s a doubly annoying glitch because my initial impressions of the rest of the car are so positive. There’s the interior, for starters; it looks very smart and professional – Germanic, in the best way possible. BMW has clearly paid attention to the finer details too, giving elements like the volume rocker and wireless charging pad surround a pleasing, Art Deco-style pattern. 

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Probably my favourite single detail is the slightly skeletal, billet-effect spoke on the steering wheel. A close second are the optional, body-hugging M Sport seats, which are a fabulous addition, because they provide plenty of support from the thick side bolster, but are still very comfortable. 

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Then there are the two incredibly crisp and snappy displays: a 10.7-inch central touchscreen and a 10.25-inch digital driver’s display. The set-up features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which has never failed to connect as soon as I get in. Meanwhile BMW’s iDrive 8 software offers a huge amount of functionality, plus unique graphics for each of the six drive modes, such as a blue-and-yellow nebula-inspired pattern you get in Expressive mode.

Plus, despite the repeated motorway marathons – which typically cause EVs’ efficiency figures to plummet – the iX1 has averaged an impressive 3.6 miles per kWh so far. That equates to a real-world range of about 240 miles from a full charge, or a little over 190 miles with the battery topped up to the 80 per cent recommended by BMW to ensure the pack has a long life. For me, that’s good for two round trips from my home in Hertfordshire to Heathrow.

Our car might be just the 201bhp front-wheel drive model, but there’s lots of poke, and the iX1 can hold its own on twisty roads. Mind you, that’s because the ride is so stiff, which I’m still getting used to. Hopefully I’ll have made up my mind by the time I need to share my next progress report.

Model:BMW iX1 eDrive20 M Sport
Rating:3.5 stars
On fleet since:May 2024
Price new:£58,069
Powertrain:1x e-motor, 201bhp, 66.5kWh battery
CO2:0g/km
Tax:2%
Options:

M Sport Package Pro including 19-inch Bicolour alloy wheels (£2,400), Technology Pack (£1,680), panoramic glass sunroof (£1,100), Front M Sport seats (£670), Space Silver paint (£595), heated steering wheel (£175), sun protection glass (£330)

Insurance*:Group: 30 Quote: £1,422
Mileage:1,417
Efficiency:3/6 miles/kWh
Any problems?None so far

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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