What is it?
It’s just possible that the arrival of this new M60 derivative means a murine aesthetic is no longer the most shocking thing about the BMW iX.
You can decide for yourself. On one hand, well, look at it. On the other hand, know that in M60 form, the dual-motor powertrain makes a combined 611bhp and 749lb ft. Monstrous figures both, and enough to fling this 2584kg electric SUV to 62mph in just 3.8sec, making it not only the most powerful electric BMW so far but also the most accelerative. The next-best i4 M50 saloon is all of 0.1sec slower, despite, interestingly, having 7bhp per tonne more to its name and less drag.
The flagship iX will cost just under £117,000 when it goes on sale next month, making it £20,000 dearer than the 516bhp xDrive50 M Sport version that we already quite like. The difference isn’t exactly small change, although the M60 does come with a good degree of extra kit as standard and the hike in power isn’t merely the result of two or three lines of extra code.
The M60 introduces an upgraded, 355bhp rear motor – one whose rotor is 2cm longer than that of the motor used by the xDrive50, that has extra cooling and that uses a six-phase inverter, rather than a three-phase one. Word is that it fits neatly in the i4.
In the M60, the rear anti-roll bar is also beefed up, the damper rates are a fifth higher and the air springs and steering have received adjustments for a little more precision and control, should you ever need it.
The superficial changes are less meaningful. There’s some bronze-effect detailing and M60-specific 21in alloy wheels wrapped in 255-section Pirelli rubber put power to the ground. M logos are dotted about the interior but almost apologetically so, and the modular seats are the same as you’ll find in the xDrive50.
Clearly, the M60 isn’t intended as some Lamborghini Urus-slaying street fighter but as an extra-quick extension of the current iX range.
What’s it like?
Which is just how it plays out on the road. In the default driving mode, the M60 makes restoratively easy progress, like its lesser rangemates. The steering is still overly filtered but the gearing feels natural, as does pedal response and visibility throughout the spacious cabin is very good.
You would never know that marginally more torque than that developed by even the twin-turbocharged Mercedes-AMG V12 in the Pagani Huayra is only milliseconds away at any point.
As this is an M-lite model, the efforts of the motors are accompanied by a Hans Zimmer-designed soundtrack. But beyond the gentle and surprisingly convincing gruffness that percolates the cabin when you lightly squeeze the accelerator, the ambience is still more luxury limousine than high-performance SUV.
You can let M60 rip, of course, and to most dramatic effect in Sport driving mode, when Zimmer bares his teeth and the accelerator response is ramped up to levels that even an S54 straight six couldn’t hope to match.
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