2023 BMW iX M60 First Drive Review: Great Car, but What's the Advantage?
There's a lot to like about the BMW iX, but none of it is exclusive to the range-topping M60.
Updated May 24, 2022 3:01 p.m. PT
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Steven EwingFormer managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
At $106,095 (including $995 for destination), the new BMW iX M60 is $21,900 more expensive than the standard iX xDrive50. That extra cash gets you more power, a stiffer suspension and a longer list of standard equipment. Sounds good in theory. But is it worth it? Sadly, no.
The M60 shares the same basic architecture and drivetrain as the iX xDrive50. Underneath its lightweight composite space frame is a 111.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, of which 106.3 kWh is actually usable. A pair of electric motors distribute power to each axle, and combined, the iX M60 produces 532 horsepower and 749 pound-feet of torque, though 811 lb-ft is available for brief bursts during hard launches. BMW estimates the iX M60 will accelerate to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, which is pretty darn quick for an X5-sized SUV weighing 5,769 pounds.
For perspective, the iX xDrive50 offers 516 hp and 564 lb-ft, and can hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. There's an 0.8-second gap between those two 0-to-60 times, but think about it: All EVs feel quick. The thrill of instant electric torque makes launching an electric car exciting no matter how much power is on tap. The iX M60 isn't so much quicker than the xDrive50 that it radically changes the whole experience. And that's true for both off-the-line and at-speed acceleration.
The tradeoff for that extra power is reduced range. The EPA says a 2023 iX M60 with its base 21-inch wheels can travel 288 miles per charge, while a 2022 iX xDrive50 with 21s will do 305 miles. Also, you can get the xDrive50 with even smaller 20-inch wheels, resulting in an EPA-estimated 324-mile range. Of course, the jumps between these figures likely won't make too much of a difference in the real world, especially if you have a Level 2 charger installed at home. Don't forget, the iX is also capable of 195-kW DC fast charging, which allows you to take advantage of the most powerful Level 3 stations.
BMW says the iX M60 has a stiffer suspension tune than the xDrive50, but without driving the two electric
back to back, I can't say I notice a difference. The iX M60 feels exactly like the iX xDrive50 I tested in Germany last fall. And while you might be able to notice the changes during hard driving, that's not really a genuine use case for a large electric SUV.
But that's not a dig against the iX M60. On German highways and cobbled city streets alike, the M60's standard dual-axle air suspension admirably soaks up road blemishes while delivering a solid, composed ride. Even on its largest 22-inch wheels, the iX is extremely comfortable, with weighty steering (the squircle wheel is weird) and very little body roll in corners. The M60 is nice to drive -- just like the xDrive50.
The M60's other distinguishing characteristics are either cosmetic or have to do with options and packaging. You'll notice M logos on the blue-painted brake calipers, as well as extended use of the very awesome bronze trim. The aforementioned 22-inch wheels have a M60-specific design, and the black M badges on the body are killer.
Because it's the top-tier model, the M60 comes standard with all the iX's best goodies. Rear-axle steering, park distance control, adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera, a Bowers & Wilkins stereo, power liftgate and heated everything only scratch the surface of the M60's spec sheet. Plus, you get all of the cool technologies that debuted on the iX xDrive50, including adaptive regenerative braking that changes based on traffic and GPS data and those futuristic driving sounds composed by Hans Zimmer.
Speaking of GPS data, onboard navigation is standard, part of BMW's latest iDrive 8 infotainment suite. It's all housed on a curved display that incorporates a 14.9-inch digital gauge cluster and 12.3-inch central touchscreen. iDrive 8 looks a bit complicated at first -- the home/menu screen has a ton of little tiles -- but it's easy to work through with just a bit of practice. Natural speech voice commands are accessed through the usual "Hey, BMW" wake-up command, and the company's gesture controls continue to be as annoying and useless as ever.
But fully loaded as it is, the iX M60 has a glaring omission. You can't buy one with the excellent microfiber and wool upholstery that's available on the iX xDrive50; all M60s come with leather or leatherette. This might not seem like a huge deal to you, but I can't imagine getting an iX without this supremely comfortable green-ish/blue-ish/gray-ish fabric. In a cabin that's so light, airy and design-forward, with cool details like backlit open-pore wood and glass controls, this unique treatment really ties the room together.
Pedantic interior design preferences aside, there simply aren't enough advantages to warrant the jump to an iX M60. There's certainly a precedent for this sort of thing among luxury SUVs, though: The
BMW X5 M
costs $23,300 more than the V8-powered X5 M50i, and guess which one is the better all-around buy.
Need more proof? Load up an iX xDrive50 with the sport exterior styling, 21-inch wheels, microfiber/wool interior and literally every option, and you're looking at $101,620 including destination. At that point, all you're getting for the remaining $4,475 is more power and less range. Does that seem worth it to you?
Editors' note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of CNET's staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.