Do You Want To Drive In The Electric Or The ICE Age?

BMW X2

IN a normal world, the crossover would serve as a handy bridge between a sedan and an SUV.

From size to capability to utility and flexibility, it eases you gently from deep hip and knee flexes to gentle backside sliding into a comfortable and elevated position.

However, in Singapore’s high-priced motoring environment, the lines blur and the choices become more challenging.

First, there’s the elevated cost of 10-year “ownership” of a car, dictated by the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) system. Then there are the numerous choices to be had. So many models are being rolled out by existing players, even as new brands are being unveiled, all fighting for a limited number of COEs per bidding round.

BMW X1 series
The electric (left) and the petrol BMW X1 variants, grilled to differing desires.

Power Source

There is also the decision — internal combustion engine (ICE) or electric vehicle (EV)?

While sourcing and using petrol damages the planet, the things that are designed to help the environment costs the consumer significant amounts of money, which just seems to be out of sync with the spirit of the cause.

The prices of ICE and EV models are not significantly different to benefit giving up one for the other, or choosing one over the other.

Two entry-level cars from BMW have recently hit the road and exemplify this conundrum.

BMW X2
The BMW X2 carries the ICE flag.

X Marks The Spots

The BMW X2 sDrive16i M Sport is a 1.5L, three-cylinder petrol-powered car which showcases all the advantages that have been poured into ICE research to make them more efficient, cleaner and punchier. 

This engine has appeared on a number of BMW models in various levels of tuning and has showcased its versatility in delivering different driving experiences.

The BMW iX1 eDrive20 is an entry-level EV model of an existing petrol variant, and it’s not that much smaller than the X2. The iX1 is meant to showcase its relative utilitarian DNA versus the slightly more impractical X2 which promises a bit more flash and dash.

In truth, they are not too far off from each other when it comes to features. Maybe just missing paddle shifters and some top-end pace in the iX1. Its full electric disposition makes it an easy model to plug into the current desires and demands of the motoring industry and policy makers. 

X2 concept
The entry-level BMW iX1 brings the electric vehicle to a wider audience.

iX1 and X2 — Categorically Similar

Both these front-wheel-drive cars are in COE Category A, and are similar in several aspects. 

The iX1 and X2 share the same width — 1.845m — and are about the same length, with the X2 being 54mm longer. The X2 sits closer to the ground, at 1,590mm, to achieve its coupe feel, while the iX1 is 1,642mm tall in keeping with its more mainstream SUV DNA.

Both cars would be favourably positioned as vehicles that bring together good build quality, performance, ambience and practicality.

Of course, in Singapore’s heavily taxed environment, the price of the BMW X2 sDrive16i M Sport, on the road is at an eye-watering *$254,888. 

The iX1 is $9K more expensive despite being more beneficial to the planet, priced at *$263,888.

Ride Differences

In terms of outward styling, the iX1’s height results in a rocky ride. Given that shape profile, it’s hard to avoid this behaviour. But it does have a quick electric pull factor, with the responsive accelerator taking it from 0-100kmh in 10.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 170kmh. The absence of any Hans Zimmer sound accompaniment makes for a quite quiet ride, save for the tyre noise, running on 18” wheels. The iX1 has a published range of 474km.

With the meatier turbocharged 1.5L engine on board, the X2 has more eagerness about it, as it rides on 20″ M light alloy bicolour wheels. This sense of “eagerness” has to do with the sound of the engine, since its 0-100kmh run is achieved in the same time as the iX1 despite the powertrain delivering 20kW less power, at 90kW. Its listed top speed is  197kmh.

The set-up of the X2 delivers a lively ride. There’s enough pep in the drive, with differentiation between normal and sport modes to satisfy different levels of lead-footedness. Paddle shifters give you an added sense of belief that you have some control over the car’s handling. While useful when it comes to negotiating bends or inclines, it’ll largely be unused.

But normal driving behaviour will still deliver a smooth and comfortable drive.

BMW X2
The coupe styling of the BMW X2 tries to soften the lines of this crossover SUV.

Family Focus

While both models possess the latest BMW family look, the X2 drops off rather abruptly at the rear; the coupe slope attempting to mask its bulk. The large C pillars and the slope result in a small window for the driver checking out what’s behind via the rear-view mirror.

The comfort for those in the cabin is a major draw for the iX1 and X2. While the competition in this category is quite intense, and many offering lower prices, the feel of a premium build is a deciding factor here.

Quality finishes, with comfortable seats and the latest in technology and connectivity are strong draws. Good room for those at the back means a family can travel in comfort. Space in the boot allows for that travel to be even further.

The electric seats are especially accommodating, providing a snug fit while lifting the driver to a good view of the road ahead.

BMW X2 interior
The interiors of the BMW iX1 and X2 feature curved touchscreens and the latest in connectivity.

Both cars offer a curved 10.25” instrument display and a 10.7” touchscreen, which controls many of the major features. Ease of connection with your smartphone makes for a seamless experience from office or home to the car. You may have problems when different drivers jump in and you have to switch profiles.

When using the mobile phone app, like Apple Car Play, changing your driving mode will require some additional taps on the screen to get back to your original screen. Maybe this could be addressed in the next OS upgrade.

With the constant evolution of the industry, there are still many steps to go before EVs drive ICE machines off the roads. Till then, enjoy the ICE drive, even as the EVs continue to gain ground on them.

*Check prices with dealers.

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