Mountain Wheels: BMW’s electric iX M60 provides an overwhelming experience

Sprung from the future, the 610-horsepower all-electric BMW iX M60 offers a bewildering mix of extreme speed and amazing cabin displays.
Andy Stonehouse/Mountain Wheels

The future finally arrived and EVs beyond those made by a certain evil Bond villain type of guy are fast, loaded with ridiculous technology and … did I mention fast already?

I told you earlier this year about my enjoyable experience in BMW’s new i4 all-electric sedan, but things took a jump into another dimension with the arrival of the iX SUV, which I sampled as the additionally upgraded M60 version, priced at a pretty serious $113,420, before any fading 2022 EV credits.

Parked on 22-inch wheels and packed with more ridiculous automotive drama than … well, almost as much as the new Mercedes EQ models we’ll talk about soon … the BMW iX provides a lightning-fast, relatively long-range driving experience.

That means total system output of 610 horsepower and about 280 or so miles of range, if you do not drive like you have a warp-speed 0-60 in 3.6 seconds SUV at your disposal. It’s ridiculously fast, and decked out both inside and in the cabin like Darth Vader’s personal transportation.

Dual electric motors mean an unheard of 811 pound-feet of torque and the ability to, in the most relentless of multiple driving modes, accelerate like there is not a boxy 5,769 pounds of vehicle still attached to the earth with giant tires.

Even the eco drive mode can be too fast, and the other modes also incorporate sometimes gaudy and overwhelming video displays and booming, sci-fi onboard acceleration soundtracks composed by Hans Zimmer of “Dune” “Top Gun: Maverick” fame. Mix that with lighting speed and it’s a little ridiculous.

I did have to be judicious with a vehicle that moves this quickly, as its stance, its air suspension and its size don’t always translate to standard M-style cornering, though built-in all-wheel drive certainly helps.

The objective here is shock and awe, and the iX’s aerodynamic version of the new kidney grille is not only able to self-heal to minor road damage, but also allows all the myriad sensors necessary to make a vehicle like this operable.

Those sensors are part of the vehicle’s artificial intelligence-powered regenerative braking system, meaning that it uses mapping and real life-data to help determine traffic density and then do a lot of the braking for you, as if by magic. That was indeed freaky  

It’s also maybe the most stealth bomber aerodynamic-looking SUV on the market, especially from the rear, with ominous LED lamps everywhere. The wheels are perhaps the only concession to standard automotive guise.

Inside, the seating is gigantically overstuffed like leathery bean bag chairs, and not quite bolstered enough for hero-styled driving; the head-up display above the squared steering wheel looks like the laser cannon aiming sight from every “Star Wars” episode, but the other displays are so abstract or minimal that it’s kind of hard to figure out real data like available range. Even the controls are contained in a wood-grain haptic panel, for goodness’ sake.

I’d say the iX is perhaps the worst offender yet for “is the car on, or off, or somewhere in between,” with the ability to use your key card or even phone to unlock the vehicle, and heater and stereo virtually always on, even when you’d like them to be off. 

This all comes in contrast — or perhaps credit to — the delightful but by comparison rather regular BMW X3 SUV I also drove earlier in the year, priced at a more reasonable $51,390.

X3 now gets much of the sophisticated external design and many of the interior features of the larger BMW 5 through 7 series SUVs, and does not feel like a smaller or more austere choice, in any way.

Standard power is provided by a 248-horsepower 2.0-liter twin turbo and an eight-speed automatic transmission. If you want basic M Sport looks, that’s $4,100 extra; if you want to go quite fast, you can also pay around $61,000 for the 382-horsepower M40i or go crazy with the $75,000 X3 M, which has 503 horsepower.

The reality check here is that X3 is not necessarily X5-styled gigantic, and actually has less rear legroom than even the smaller X2. You do get a healthy 62.7 cubic feet of storage when you drop the rear seats.

I appreciated a combined 31-plus mpg I got, which beat the window sticker, and also requires premium fuel. Like the iX, the xDrive AWD helps provide a more grounded feel, but it’s still got a bigger and sometimes even bouncy feel; it’s solid enough that you can cruise at high speeds all day and feel solidly confident doing so.

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