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2023 BMW iX M60 Review: Electric too much, not necessarily the best

2023 BMW iX M60 Review: Electric too much, not necessarily the best

More power

The M60’s electric powertrain is based on the same 111.5 kilowatt-hour (105.2 kWh usable) battery as the xDrive50 spec with the same DC and AC charge rate estimates. The iX M60 can process up to 195 kilowatts of juice, adding a range of about 150 kilometers in about 10 minutes or refilling from 10% to 80% in 40 minutes. BMW is offering two years of free 30-minute Electrify America sessions to introduce drivers to the network. With an 11-kW home or Level 2 public AC charger, owners can expect to spend up to 11 hours filling the battery.

The biggest difference between the M60 and xDrive50 variants is the power of the twin-motor electric powertrain. M60 drivers have up to 610 rear-facing horsepower in Sport mode and, when activating launch control, up to 811 pound-feet of torque with a flick of their right foot, a gain of 94 ponies and 247 twist units over the xDrive50. Hitting the throttle, the M60 makes the case for its nearly $25,000 premium over xDrive50 with exhilarating acceleration. The extra oomph shaves almost a second off the SUV’s 0-to-60 time, in just 3.6 seconds versus 4.4. It’s a hoot, to be sure.

2023 BMW iX M60's front and large grille

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2023 BMW iX M60's front and large grille

Yes, the iX M60 is almost a second faster to 100 km/h than an Audi E-Tron S. Then again, well, it looks like this.

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Top speed rises from 200km/h to 250km/h (or 210km/h with all-season tyres), though that’s mostly just to brag to xDrive50 owners. Despite the iX M60’s impressive performance upgrades, this isn’t a track car; most miles are traveled on public roads with annoying speed limits.

Firmer ride

The fate of the iX M60 as a jacked-up commuter who will spend his life bouncing over highway expansion joints and dodging street potholes feels at odds with the SUV’s overly firm suspension setup. Standard equipment on this trim level includes rear-axle steering, air suspension (both of which are optional on the xDrive50) and M Sport brakes with blue calipers (which are not).

However, the M60’s air suspension has been recalibrated and combined with thicker anti-roll bars for a more dynamic ride and firmer handling. That of course costs some comfort, and that is not too bad when the road is glassy. Around my neck of the woods, however, the best roads are off the beaten track, where the iX M60’s suspension proved more punishing over bumps and imperfections than the low-slung BMW i4 M50 saloonwhich limits my pleasure and my speed, even in the most compliant Comfort setting.

Less reach

21 or 22 inch wheels are available. My example is fitted with the former, paired with summer performance tyres, although all-seasons are also available as a no-cost option. I’d recommend sticking with the smaller rolls; the ride of the iX is firm enough that you need all the rubber you can get between your spine and the road.

The bigger wheels also come with range, dropping from 288 EPA-estimated miles with the 21s to a range of 274 miles on the double twos. Of course, iX riders looking to maximize the range between road trip pit stops are probably better off sticking with the xDrive50, which gets between 305 and 324 miles, depending on the wheel-and-tire combo.

M Sport design

Visually, the M60 spec sets itself apart with a unique front end that’s much more aggressive than the xDrive50. It’s almost too aggressive, but in defence, the stronger angles and bold techno cheekbones strike a better balance with BMW’s new vertical kidney grille design. I’m not a fan of the iX’s design, but this is the best, most cohesive look.

Inside, the spacious, minimalist cabin of the iX M60 is also largely unchanged from the xDrive50. BMW doesn’t equip its performance variant with sports seats, an omission I don’t mind for day-to-day driving comfort, but also a bit missed when testing the SUV’s enhanced cornering capabilities.

My example includes $300 blue seatbelts and the $3,000 Executive package, which adds open-pore glass and wood controls to the center console. The wood is insulated a nice natural touch, but there’s no wood anywhere else in the iX’s cabin, and it seems strangely out of place the more I look at it. The Executive Package also adds advanced driver assistance features such as hands-free Traffic Jam Assist, hands-free parking assist, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist, plus convenience features such as soft-close doors. Overall, it’s an elective worth checking out, even if you don’t want the aesthetic “upgrades”.

Center console in wood and glass

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Center console in wood and glass

The wooden controls are a nice touch, but they also don’t match anything else in the iX’s cabin.

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iDrive 8, iconic sounds

Drivers can glide silently or turn on BMW’s Iconic Sounds to fill the cabin with artificial powertrain sounds. The M60 has a unique tone in Sport mode that is deeper and louder than the base model for a more immersive experience when accelerating. Since my last stint behind the wheel, the Relax and Expressive Iconic Sounds themes have been added to the iX’s My Mode menu, allowing me to accelerate and brake to the sound of an angelic chorus or a sci-fi soundtrack. These modes are entertaining and fun to show off to passengers, but ultimately too weird for extended use.

My thoughts on BMW’s new iDrive 8 multimedia software have softened somewhat now that I’ve hit the steep learning curve and embraced the complicated but customizable interface. The system is built around a pair of huge displays that seem to float above the dashboard on struts. The left screen is the 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, while the right screen is a larger 14.9-inch main touchscreen. iDrive 8 is a responsive system and, like the rest of the iX’s cabin, the high-resolution screens look great and can be customized with nature-inspired visual themes.

OK, that’s just too many icons. Fortunately, iDrive 8 is highly customizable.

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When you first see the main menu, it’s an overwhelming mess of nearly 30 little icons arranged in no particular order. Thankfully, these icons can be dragged, dropped, and organized to your liking, so take a moment to do that before you hit the road. In addition, eight shortcuts to almost any menu screen or infotainment feature can be saved to a Favorites menu for quick access by swiping down from the top of any screen; once I chose this one, I rarely had to wade through the main menu again. I still think iDrive 7’s curated organization was a better out-of-the-box experience, but I see how iDrive 8 has the potential to become more flexible over time.

Plus, there’s wireless as standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, so drivers can easily bypass BMW’s technology and use the navigation and streaming apps on their phones. The iX even supports the latest fast coupling technology for both ecosystems, so you don’t even have to fiddle with the menus to get started.

BMW iX M60 from 2023

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BMW iX M60 from 2023

You won’t hear me say this very often, but think twice before splurging on the more potent variety.

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More expensive

The 2023 BMW iX M60 starts at $109,895 including the $995 destination fee – a $24,800 premium over the xDrive50 spec. A more apples to apples comparison with an xDrive50 with Dynamic Handling package upgrades brings the delta down to a still substantial $17,700. Add in the Executive package and blue bands from my example to bring the tested price to $113,195, which feels like an even harder pill to swallow.

Add to that the compromises in comfort and range and it feels like you’re paying a lot more for a lot less. The iX M60 is undoubtedly faster and more exciting. But unlike the BMW i4 eDrive40 and the i4 M50 where the extra performance improves the sports saloon, here the power comes at too high a price. Most people looking for a vehicle in this class will find the BMW iX xDrive50’s 516 horsepower and 4.4 second 0-to-60 sprint exciting enough and a much better value.