Throughout 2023, we extensively tested a multitude of electric BMWs, surpassing our previous test drive experiences. BMW had an exceptional year, significantly expanding its electric vehicle portfolio. The introduction of numerous new EVs marked a pivotal moment, featuring models such as the BMW i4 eDrive35, i4 xDrive40, i5 eDrive40, i5 xDrive40, i5 M60, i7 M70, i3 eDrive40L, iX2, and even the Rolls-Royce Spectre, a noteworthy product of the BMW Group. Additionally, we include the BMW iX1 in this pool of new EVs, despite its introduction in the preceding fall, deeming it more emblematic of 2023.
Our globe-trotting adventures to test these electric BMWs gave us a good understanding of these new models, so in this article, we delve into our top three choices among BMW EVs, providing some explanations for each selection. Certainly, it’s important to acknowledge that these lists and rankings inherently carry a degree of subjectivity. Given the diversity among us as drivers or buyers, individual preferences play a significant role. Nevertheless, this compilation aims to provide valuable insights into our approach to evaluating these new EVs.
Runner-Up 1: BMW iX1
While the BMW iX1 isn’t included in the U.S. lineup, this entry-level crossover has experienced notable success in global markets. In Germany, it stands out as one of the best-selling new X1 products, boasting a compelling blend of luxury, driving dynamics, and a good electric range. In many respects, it serves as a worthy successor to the i3 hatchback, particularly in terms of practicality.
My initial experience with the iX1 was in the fall of 2022, and I returned with a positive impression. It demonstrated remarkable driving dynamics, particularly considering its front-wheel-drive architecture, making it an overall robust product. Recently, our staff writer Andrew also had the opportunity to drive the iX1, and here’s his perspective:
“Being able to waft in comfort is a trait usually reserved for larger and more luxurious vehicles than an X1, yet in the iX1 guise with adaptive dampers, the vehicle was remarkably cosseting. With the suspension in its most comfortable settings, the iX1 has the surprising power of being able to turn bumpy roads into smooth ones. Even if the vehicle rides on 19-inch wheels (like my tester) and you put it in Sport mode, comfort levels remain remarkably high.
Driving over poor-quality tarmac or unpaved roads, the iX1 is really good at soaking up the bumps and not transmitting the forces into the cabin. If there was one thing that was especially impressive, this would be ride quality, which goes really well coupled with the iX1’s excellent sound insulation.
If you want to put the power down early on corner exit, the 2023 BMW iX1 will immediately reveal its front-wheel drive nature, as it’s the front wheels that will get overpowered by torque. This is a very similar experience to that provided by the iX1’s biggest rival, the Mercedes-Benz EQA 350 4Matic, and it’s a trait that doesn’t help either of these vehicles feel especially sporty to drive.”
Runner-Up 2: BMW i7 M70
This is the fastest electric car BMW offers today. With 650 horsepower under the hood (you get the idea), the BMW i7 M70 is a beast of a car. Not only it looks impressive and bold, but it also delivers a neck-snapping driving experience. It can do 0-60 in 3.5 seconds which is ridiculous for a car that weighs more than a Panzer (6,200 lbs).
I was recently in Portugal where BMW was brave enough to let me tackle some of the beautiful and curvy Portuguese roads, and the i7 M70 did not disappoint. It managed somehow to hide its weight and make it feel like a lighter car, while still providing that great 7 Series experience.
“First impressions, this BMW i7 M70 is a ///Monster of a car. It is impressively quick off the line managing to hide its heft. The power delivery is brutal, especially when you pair it with the Launch Control and the Boost Mode which gives you around 60 lb-ft of torque for 10 seconds at a time. It’s genuinely unnerving how quickly you can attain those top speeds, particularly given the remarkably hushed nature of the M70, which might distract you from monitoring the speedometer.
The i7 M70’s suspension impressively absorbed road imperfections, and even in its Comfort mode, it consistently maintains control when traversing rough terrain. However, in spite of its sportier character, the BMW i7 M70 hasn’t compromised any of the comfort that has distinguished the i7 as an exceptional sedan. Overall, the body remains well-controlled and the ride maintains the plush and gentle character of a 7 Series. Even in the Sport or Sport+ driving modes, the ride doesn’t come close to feeling as rigid or unsettled as one might anticipate.
Although other variants provide nearly comparable speed and an equal dose of opulence, there is unequivocally no denying that the BMW i7 M70 caters to those with an unyielding pursuit of the absolute best money can procure.”
Winner: BMW i5 M60
In many ways, the BMW i5 M60 is the smaller brother of the i7 M70. It features the same drivetrain setup, similar tech and luxury items, along with the latest and greatest Driving Assistance Systems. Of course, it makes less power – 590 hp – but that’s enough to put a smile on your face.
I had the chance to sample the i5 M60 in Portugal again, and then later, on the track in South Carolina. While I still love the i5 eDrive40 for its rear-wheel drive setup, the M60’s power and grip is simply addictive.
“From the get-go, it’s abundantly clear that the BMW i5 M60 is a true powerhouse. With its 590 horsepower, the electric sedan’s acceleration is exceptionally smooth and gradual. Yet, a mere tap on the accelerator pedal unleashes a surge of power, even more so when using the Boost Mode (83 extra horsepower for 10 seconds). Despite its weight, which surpasses that of the i4 M50 at 2305 kg (5081 lbs) according to DIN standards, the springs are impressive. While it may not reach the 650-horsepower mark of the latest BMW i7 M70, it’s almost as quick, clocking in at 3.5 seconds for the 0 to 60 mph sprint compared to the i7’s 3.7 seconds. I clocked 3.61 seconds on the GPS RaceBox.
Power distribution from front to rear is executed with pinpoint precision, adapting to the driving circumstances seamlessly. In tight turns, the front end is quite precise, delivering rapid and confident turn-ins. When the rear end demands more grip and precision, power is subtly shifted to the rear, delivering that iconic BMW rear-biased driving sensation. Even with all the electronic stability controls engaged, I did manage to provoke some wheel spin a few times. Driving enthusiasts will appreciate that.”
The Ultimate Flex – Rolls-Royce Spectre
If I were to choose my favorite EV of 2023, without a doubt, it would be the Rolls-Royce Spectre. In my opinion, it epitomizes automotive perfection. However, I acknowledge that it’s a highly exclusive luxury car, and only a fortunate few will have the opportunity to witness, let alone experience it from the driver’s seat. Priced at nearly $500,000, my Rolls-Royce Spectre tester showcased a magnificent blend of engineering prowess and meticulous craftsmanship.
I’m not even going to give a summary of that review, you can read it here. This car is just perfect. Period!