Dial M for more power, more handling: the 2023 BMW iX M60, tested

Enlarge / We expect controversial styling from BMW, but the face of the iX is starting to grow on me.

Jonathan Gitlin

These days, automakers are a bit embarrassed. For generations, the industry has evolved and refined its products, and now it’s time to throw away that knowledge when it comes to internal combustion technology and learn all the new things about electric powertrains. That sentiment must be particularly acute in the more niche corners of the industry, like the speedy dealers responsible for those bloated factory-built sedans and SUVs with badges that read AMG, Blackwing, and the like.

BMW M is arguably the most famous, having just celebrated its 50th birthday last week. For decades, since the mid-engined BMW Turbo concept of 1972, the tricolor badge has been synonymous with precise handling and abundant power, usually delivered by a peach of engine. But the future is electrified, even at M, which is why we were in Berlin to try out its latest creation, a polished version of BMW’s latest electric SUV, the 2023 iX M60.

BMW's M has just celebrated its 50th anniversary by launching an M4 CSL.  But it also just released another new M car, the iX M60.
Enlarge / BMW’s M has just celebrated its 50th anniversary by launching an M4 CSL. But it also just released another new M car, the iX M60.

Jonathan Gitlin

We got our first look at the iX last summer. It’s a controversial thing, as with so many of BMW’s more recent creations, and best seen as an all-electric alternative to the more conventional X5 SUV. But M engineers have now got their hands on the iX, having already worked their magic on the i4 M50.

Electrification is a bit of a double-edged sword for outfits like M. The electric motors might not be tuneful like some of BMW’s six-cylinder engines. But even the sharpest naturally aspirated engine can’t hope to match the instantaneousness of an electric motor when it comes to instant throttle response, especially in the 0-40 mph (0-40 mph) speed envelope. 65 km/h) in which most of us spend most of our driving time.

On the other hand, these types of powerful electric motors only work if you can supply them with high-voltage electricity, which currently means lugging around huge lithium-ion batteries that, all things considered, weigh several hundred pounds more. than an equivalent gasoline. -motorized powertrain. The iX M60 has a curb weight of 5,769 lb (2,617 kg), about two middle linebackers more than the BMW X5 M, realistically the iX M60’s closest in-house price rival and power.

BMW's naming might be confusing to some customers, so just think of the iX as the electric X5.
Enlarge / BMW’s naming might be confusing to some customers, so just think of the iX as the electric X5.

Jonathan Gitlin

Going electric therefore means carrying a little more mass. BMW added more power to compensate, but the mechanical changes to the powertrain from the less powerful iXs we drove in 2021 are minimal.

The rear motor has had its rotor lengthened by 0.8 inches (20 mm), which allows a greater magnetic field to be applied and therefore more power to be generated. The engine spins at 15,400 rpm, and there’s now a dual six-phase inverter that allows a maximum of 1,200 A, which is transferred to the wheels through a single-speed transmission that’s housed in the same power unit. compact drive as motor and electronic power.

As with BMW’s other Gen5 electric drive units, it is manufactured in-house and is an electrically excited synchronous motor that uses no magnets (and therefore no rare earths) in its construction.

The headline figure is the iX M60’s combined output of 610 hp (455 kW) in Sport and Launch Control mode and 811 lb-ft (1,100 Nm) of available torque in Launch Control. And since the iX M60 doesn’t need to rev turbochargers or fill 4.4L of a V8 engine with fresh air, that gives it a natural performance advantage over the X5 M. Zero to 60 mph (97 km/h) takes just 3.6 seconds, and top speed on summer tires has been increased to 155 mph (250 km/h).

In the iX M60’s less frantic drive modes (Personal and Efficiency), power delivery is reduced slightly to a maximum of 532hp (397k) and 749lb-ft (1,015Nm). Individually, the front drive unit is rated at 255 hp (190 kW) and the rear at 483 hp (360 kW).

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