The new iX M60 is BMW’s most powerful electric car, delivering 611bhp and 811lb ft of torque and achieving 0-62mph in 3.9sec.
It becomes BMW’s new electric flagship and, alongside the new BMW i4 M50, marks a milestone in M’s 50-year history as the sub-brand moves into electrified cars.
Priced from £111,905 and arriving this summer, the iX M60 is the third variant of the BMW iX, which was launched last year. The entry-level iX xDrive40 offers 257 miles of range and the xDrive50 up to 380 miles, while this M60 has a 357-mile range, compromised by the extra power to make it deserving of the M badge.
It shaves 0.7sec off the xDrive50’s 0-62mph sprint time and also has a top speed of 155mph to differentiate it from its siblings.
The Tesla Model X and Audi E-tron S rival features electric all-wheel drive, an actuator-based wheel-slip limitation function and M-tuned dual-axle air suspension with automatic level control – all of which “ensure hallmark M driving experience, agility and precision”, BMW claims.
The firm has taken a different approach with its electric M cars by making them less visually distinct from their standard siblings and exploring new ways for them to stand out.
Johann Kistler, iX project director, said: “If you look at the M60, there’s not a great difference with the exterior [versus the iX] and there’s not such a great difference in acceleration because all electric cars have good acceleration so we have to look differently.
“But we want to offer a top-end powertrain and therefore we decided to make a small differentiation. If you look at the M5, it should have a different exterior to the four-cylinder [5 Series] so it’s really seen, but with BEVs, we’ve done a lot of finer differentiation, beginning with the sound.
“It has a different start-up sound, a different shutdown sound, different sounds while driving. There is also a different look and feel from displays and a different colour on the wheels to give the sense of a different, high-speed performance car.”
The M60 uses an aluminium spaceframe and a carbon cage with carbonfibre-reinforced plastic in the roof, side and rear sections, first used on the 2003 BMW M3 CSL.
The exterior gets blue M-branded brake calipers and M logos in the new gloss black and titanium bronze finish on the front, side panels and rear.
Inside, it has the same lightly curved display as the other iX models, running BMW’s eighth-generation iDrive operating system, and with a focus on touch functions and voice communication. With no centre console, the controls, including the iDrive rotary controller, are set within the forward section of a high-mounted armrest.
Its spacious interior uses FSC-certified wood, leather tanned with olive leaf extract and other natural materials. Recycled fishing nets are among the raw materials used for floor coverings and mats.
Over standard iX equipment, M60 customers receive 22in alloy wheels, soft close doors, laser lights, an advanced park assist package, a Bower & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system, front electric and massage seats and four-zone air conditioning.
The M60 is built alongside its iX siblings – plus the 5, 6, 7 and 8 Series – at BMW’s Dingolfing factory in Germany.
Q&A: Johann Kistler, BMW iX project director
How will you retain repeat M customers in the switch to EVs?
“If we look at the market 10 years ago when we started with the i3, electric cars were seen as smaller cars with little range and mobility restrictions. If we look at our targets now, we will keep improving electric [range], offer electric vehicles of every size and show sportiness to convince M4, M6, M8 owners that electric cars are good for them. You must offer a top-end powertrain to achieve this, which is why we’re launching the iX M60.”
Do you think it’s important all BMW models have performance variants?
“As you know from all models of BMW, we will always have an M sports car at the top end. It’s easier to explain with combustion engines: it’s familiar to have four-cylinder, then six, eight and 12 for the M. For electric, the xDrive40 standard version is good for driving in urban areas and for tax benefits. If customers want a longer distance without looking for our next charging station, there’s the xDrive50. And there’s the possibility of having more power, torque and a higher top speed of 155mph in the M60. It is for the customer who likes outstanding.
Is the legacy of the i8 significant when it comes to electrified sports cars?
“Yes, very. We started with the i3, which was an urban concept, and then we wanted to show electric cars were possible in a sports version. The i8 was a lighthouse project: we wanted to show our competence and that electrified cars were possible for sports cars. It’s a different customer who likes to show they have a special car.”
Even affordable EVs accelerate quickly. Will big power figures always be important?
“In the end, a car should be a BMW with driving pleasure and experience. But you have to find a sweet spot. We have to offer electric range of around 310 miles but, on the other side, it should be a BMW and that means driving dynamics. You go to the countryside to enjoy it. It’s not only about acceleration.”