When designing the BMW iX, the engineers were given a tough mandate — make it as comfortable and quiet as a 7 Series, give it the handling of a 5 Series and the utility of an X5. A tall order for sure, but one that was achieved. Then came the real challenge. Take the good and making it special. Welcome to the iX M60. It’s a comfortable cruiser and a raucous, smile-inducing ride at the same time.
At the heart of the M60 is the same battery found in the iX xDrive50. In this case, the 111.5-kilowatt/hour battery delivers a driving range of up to 463 km according to NRCan, which is 33 km less than the xDrive50. An insignificant drop, as you will see! Anyway, on the drive route the fact the battery and distance to empty did not seemed phased by the 200 km/h Autobahn speeds provided some welcome peace of mind. When at home, a Level 2 charger replenishes it in around 11 hours; on the road, a 250 kW DC fast charger can juice it from 10-to-80 per cent in 35 minutes.
The battery drives two electric motors that twist out 532 hp and 749 lb-ft of torque. Now these are stout numbers in their own right, however, there’s more. Selecting Sport mode cranks the horsepower to 610 stallions. Better yet, engage Launch control and the driver gets 811 lb-ft of instant-on torque! These eye-popping numbers sees this heavy 2,659-kg crossover pick up its side sills and charge to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds.
Now, this was enough to induce several bouts of Sport mode silliness — come to a standstill and push both pedals towards the firewall. This engaged Launch control and put the M60 into hyper. Release the brake and now you’d better hang on to the octagonal steering wheel as it warped forth. Just remember to keep an eye on the battery, because the temptation is to do this time and again.
The two electric motors also work to deliver a seamless all-wheel-drive ability. On rain soaked roads hard acceleration did not see the tires struggle for grip. They just hooked up and took off, even during those launch moments.
Part of the iX M60’s formula is found in the drive modes. The less frenetic modes use the lower power numbers, which maxes out the driving distance. It takes a reasonably heavy stab at the accelerator to get things moving, but in an urban environment this setup is just about ideal.
Leave town and the M60 switches to the other part of its mandate. Here Sport mode comes into its own. While it’s too touchy for town driving it’s perfect for a twisty road. There are several key things at play here. First, the M-enhanced air suspension and adaptive dampers work with stiffer anti-roll bars. When in Sport practically all body roll disappears without completely sacrificing the overall ride quality. Next is the four-wheel steering. On a hard run the M60 tackled the twisties in an unflustered manner. The front wheels point it into a corner with the rear steer making it pivot in with much more authority. The flip side is the rear steer also brings a shorter turning circle in a parking lot.
An overlooked aspect is regenerative braking. With the shifter in Drive, the iX uses automatic regenerative braking logic. It looks at navigation info, other vehicles and the drive mode, among other things, to determine the amount and aggressiveness of the regen. The plus is the driver can switch the shifter over to B mode, which brings a one pedal drive — whether lifting to slow on the highway or feathering the accelerator heading into a corner, the need to touch the brake pedal basically disappears. This setup will not suit every driver, but once used to how it feels it proved to be the best mode. It even applies the “parking” brake when the iX comes to a standstill to prevent it from rolling back.
The last part of the M60’s mandate is comfort and utility. The material quality is very good with the crystal-like controls on the centre console and for the seat adjusters adding an eye-catching touch. The front seats hug without confining, the driving position is spot on and the controls all fall readily to hand. The highlight, however, is the single glass panel that houses the instrumentation and next-gen iDrive 8 multimedia. Part of its appeal is the panel can be whatever the driver wants, as the instrumentation and infotainment sides are fully customizable.
The slick factor goes one further. When using the navigation and an instruction is nearing, the forward-facing camera comes to life and shows the intersection and any traffic ahead in real-time. It then overlays the scene with arrows that indicate the direction of the turn. When there are two possible roads to take that are very close together, the real time view makes it much easier to determine which is the right road to follow. The head-up display follows this lead putting all the needed info in the driver’s line of sight.
As for the family mandate, there’s plenty of space for three adults in the back, along with 500-litre of cargo space with the seat up and 1,750L when folded.
The iX M60 satisfies the family commitment without giving up on owning a legitimate speedster. Puttering around town it’s comfortable; ditto pounding away highway kilometres. Exit the highway and switch up the drive and it becomes a true M vehicle. It is blindingly quick and, thanks to the suspension and steering, it handles like a smaller, lighter vehicle. The drive was all too brief, but it sure left its mark!
The BMW iX M60 starts at $121,750.