BMW’s transition to fully electric vehicles is a highly calculated one. I mean, when you’ve built your reputation on fantastic gasolines engines such as the TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder, it’s not easy to please EV enthusiasts and traditional gearheads at the same time.
For BMW M, the 50-year-old motorsport division that represents the pinnacle of performance for the German automaker, the challenge is even greater. I flew to Berlin in early May to discover the all-new BMW iX M60, a midsize SUV that tops the iX range in terms of technology, power and sportiness.
- Also: BMW iX xDrive40, iX M60 to Bolster Electric SUV Lineup in Canada
- Also: 2022 BMW iX xDrive50: We Drove BMW’s First Dedicated Electric SUV
Like an X5 M Competition
Look no further than the X5 for a gasoline-powered equivalent. In M Competition trim, a twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 engine delivers 617 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. Now, when it comes to the iX M60, output is nearly identical at 610 horsepower, but peak torque is a phenomenal 811 pound-feet. Both models can sprint from 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds despite the latter carrying an extra 300 kilograms.
Performance is only half the story, mind you. The BMW iX M60 features a 111.5kWh battery (105.2kWh usable capacity) that provides a manufacturer-estimated range of 450 kilometres. The exact number for Canada has yet to be announced. DC fast charging is possible at up to 195 kW, giving you about 150 kilometres in just 10 minutes, or you can charge the battery from 10-80 percent in 35 minutes.
The dual-motor setup results in all-wheel drive, but unlike Porsche and Audi which have a two-speed transmission, BMW opted for a conventional single-speed unit for the sake of simplicity. On the other hand, the thermal management system is pretty sophisticated. Coolant used for the battery goes through dedicated lines that regulate motor temperature, while heat generated by the motors warms up the battery in cold weather. The most surprising solution is an oil bath for the rear motor that prevents overheating in high-demand situations.
Refinement and Technology
Inside, the iX M60 makes a big statement—literally—with the BMW Curved Display that runs over half the length of the dashboard. Build quality is remarkable, and the materials look and feel superb. Various textures add cachet to the interior. Wood trim around the drive mode selector is also really nice, but some people probably won’t like the precious stone-like inserts for the seat controls and iDrive knob.
Ergonomics are different from BMW’s gas-powered models. Some of the buttons and controls require a bit of getting used to, like the ones that replace the traditional door handles. The flat-bottom, hexagonal steering wheel is a tad thicker than most, but it’s no big deal. Finding a proper driving position is easy thanks to the multiple seating adjustments and ample space up front. The rear quarters comfortably accommodate two adults.
The cargo area has a volume of 500-1,750 litres depending on how the rear seats are folded. Given the outer dimensions of the iX M60, I’m not impressed by those numbers. Planning a trip with three of your friends? You’ll have to pack light.
Electrifying the Autobahn
I had the opportunity to test drive the BMW iX M60 on the pristine roads surrounding Berlin, Germany, so it’s not really a surprise that the ride felt very comfortable. I have a feeling the story will be different in Canada especially in parts of the country where bumps, cracks and potholes are commonplace.
The adaptive regenerative braking system works like a charm, adjusting to the driving conditions in real time. It’s so good that I didn’t even bother activating one-pedal driving mode.
The BMW representatives on hand insisted on the fact the iX M60 is a genuine M vehicle. As far as performance is concerned, they’re right. It’s an electrifying SUV with explosive acceleration, even more so when using Launch Control.
The supremely quiet cabin adds to the experience. Wind and road noise is wonderfully neutralized—no easy task when the growl of a combustion engine is missing. BMW even teamed up with renowned composer Hanz Zimmer to develop the soundtrack for the iX. You can barely hear anything with light throttle input, but there’s a beautiful crescendo when you floor the pedal. If you’re not a fan, don’t worry: you can turn everything off at any moment.
On smaller, slower roads, steering proved highly precise and satisfying in typical BMW fashion, with great feedback in and out of corners. Despite tipping the scales at more than 2,600 kilograms, the iX M60 changes direction rather quickly, resulting in surprisingly good handling. Having said that, you can definitely feel the heavy weight through twists and turns. The tires start screaming the second you push the vehicle too energetically.
Expensive? It Depends
As you can imagine, the 2023 BMW iX M60 is not made for everybody and comes with a hefty price starting at $124,552 (including freight and PDI). On the other hand, a BMW X5 M Competition will cost you at least $136,852 at the dealership, plus all the premium fuel that is required to get similar acceleration to the iX M60. I can understand if you’re hesitating long and hard between the two.