With 610 hp and 811 lb-ft of torque, this five-seat electric ute makes the future look bright—and fast.
- The BMW iX M60 is an all-electric sport ute that performs as well on the Autobahn as on an Alpine pass.
- Two motors drive four wheels with 610 hp and 811 lb-ft of torque, which takes the 5769-pound beast to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds.
- The five-seater will be out in June priced at $106,095.
If you’re concerned that the electric future of all cars, trucks and SUVs will be boring, you should have been there on the A9 Autobahn last week when we were flying along at 250 kph. That’s 155 mph in more familiar terms. I know 155 isn’t the fastest you’ve ever been, nor me, but it’s pretty thrilling nonetheless. And 155 mph in a big, roomy SUV full of luggage and three adults is even more exciting.
We were hauling along from Berlin to Lago di Como in Italy for the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and we weren’t going to be late. Nor were we going to emit any tailpipe emissions because there was no tailpipe. We were flying along in the new BMW iX M60, the $106,095 latest, greatest, and most powerful all-electric SUV—or, rather, SAV in BMW parlance—to come from the automaker so far.
“By integrating a vehicle concept geared towards sustainability with the design of a modern Sports Activity Vehicle and thrilling dynamic driving characteristics, the BMW iX M60 embodies the best of three worlds; BMW i, the BMW X models and BMW M GmbH,” said the carmaker.
The new iX M60 gets iDrive 8.
The i is BMW’s preface for its all-electric vehicles, the X means all-wheel drive, the M means it is leaning toward Motorsport, at least in performance, and the 60 refers, loosely, to horsepower, of which there are 610 when you put it in sport mode. Put it in launch control and the total torque will hit 811 lb-ft, or enough to blast you from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds, or to Pluto and back starting at 1 rpm.
“The extreme power and precise control of the electric all-wheel-drive, the highly responsive actuator-based traction control system, and suspension technology that includes a dual-axle air suspension with automatic level control provide the hallmark BMW M driving experience: power, agility, and precision,” BMW promises.
And they ain’t lyin’.
That’s a Level 3 DC charge cable, not a gas line.
Our hosts chose the A9 Autobahn from Berlin to Leipzig to Munich at least partly because it has a lot of charging stations on it. BMW expects an EPA range of 280 miles, but that’s on our EPA cycle run at and below U.S. freeway and city street speeds. In Europe they use the far-more-optimistic WLPT cycle, which returns a range of 349 miles. Of course, range depends on how you drive and like I said, we were going 155 mph. Since aerodynamic drag is proportional to the square of speed, even with the M60’s very efficient 0.26 coefficient of drag, you eat up a lot more electricity at 155 mph than you would at, say, 55. As a result, we were stopping every 150 miles or so to recharge.
This was accomplished each time on Level 3 DC chargers, which are very good at cramming electrons into batteries. We would typically pull into the charging stations with about 20 percent battery charge on the M60’s 111.5-kWh battery packs and pull out 45 minutes later at 100 percent. So any range figure garnered from these hyperspace driving sections would be useless for a driver on any American highway, where going 155 mph for extended periods is generally frowned upon.
Note the BMW iDrive 8 screen, and the oncoming motorcyclist,
Once we got down to the Alps, we got to experience another fun feature of the iX M60: handling. BMW promises the M60 offers an “extremely sporty orientation.”
Generally speaking BMW’s M cars are among the most perfectly balanced matches of handling and ride comfort there is. Ask anyone who has a BMW M-anything and they’ll tell you how much they love driving it. The M60 gets a double-wishbone front setup and a five-link rear, combined with electric steering with Servotronic assist and a variable ratio. Add standard M-calibrated adaptive air suspension front and rear with electronically controlled shock absorbers and you have “particularly comfortable handling combined with increased agility and dynamic performance.” The dual-axle air suspension compensates for heavily loaded trips, too, as was the case with our three adults and luggage for four, since we were carrying another guy’s bags, too. On top of that you can set the whole thing up to whatever drive mode you want depending on your mood and the conditions.
As we ran out of Autobahn and hit the Alps, our conditions were changing from flat, straight speed to a twisting mountain road, heading almost straight up something called Splugen Pass between Switzerland and Italy. Mary Shelley, author of “Frankenstein,” described the pass in her book, Rambles in Germany and Italy:
“The road has been constructed on the face of the precipice, now cut into the side, now perforated through the living rock into galleries: it passes, at intervals, from one side of the ravine to the other, and bridges of a single arch span the chasm… It may be imagined how singular and sublime this pass is, in its naked simplicity.”
182 years later, we may have been going faster than Ms. Shelley. Her wooden carriage, as was the engineering of the day, was suspended on leather straps you hoped didn’t break. Our M60 had continuously adjusted dampers that BMW says take into account “longitudinal and lateral acceleration, road speed and steering angle as well as body and wheel acceleration on the front axle to provide the required damper force within a few milliseconds.”
Compared to that, Mary Shelley’s ride was a monster. Furthermore, our M60 had rear-wheel steering that reduced the turning circle to just 20 feet—a feature that came in handy cutting back and forth through Splugen’s switchbacks. The experience wasn’t anything like driving a gasoline-powered M2, of course; you have to get used to the silence and immediacy of an electric vehicle, but for something over 16 feet long, it felt directly connected to the road, with turning response that was immediate and precise. Matched with 100 percent of torque available as soon as you touched the accelerator pedal, the iX M60 felt more than competent on its way up and down the 6936-foot-high pass. The 20-plus switchbacks on the Swiss side
and over 50 switchbacks on the Italian side proved a joy to traverse.
The 2023 BMW iX M60 is due in showrooms in June and carries the BMW M standard into uncharted territory. There are M versions of other gasoline-powered BMW SUVs—excuse me, SAVs—but none as powerful as this one.
With one motor in the front and a second in back, the M60 offers the security and grip of all-wheel drive with the powerful output you’d expect in an M. If this is the future of M, or at least the future of SAVs from M, then bring it on.