Volvo C40 vs. BMW iX1 – Double test

Is the C40 a better EV now?

Where BMW first supplied separate electric models, you now see more and more fully electric versions of regular models, with an i before the model designation. The iX1 is the smallest EV that BMW offers. This electric SUV can prove itself in a comparison test against the renewed Volvo C40 Recharge. The single electric motor versions went from front to rear wheel drive. In this test, the Volvo C40 Recharge Single Motor Extended Range competes against the BMW iX xDrive30.

What about BMW now? They have an iX, always an EV, but there are now also i versions of the regular models!

BMW is integrating fully electric models more and more into the existing model lines, which means that the brand is opting for a different approach than Mercedes-Benz and Audi. In Stuttgart, the smallest EVs are still close to their combustion engine brothers, because an EQA and a GLA class share many external features. The larger models such as the EQE and EQS and their SUV variants are on their own platform and look much more modern than their ICE equivalents of the E-Class and S-Class. At BMW, only the iX is still a car according to BMW’s old approach, where the brand first came up with the i3 and much later that iX with separate electric models.

How can you recognize the BMW iX1?

The iX1 is barely recognizable as a fully electric car when you park it next to a regular X1. The X1 came on the market in a completely new guise last year and that was the time for BMW to offer an electrified variant. The iX3 has been proving for a few years that this choice can work out well. The i4 is also doing well for the brand as an electric 4-series Gran Coupé.

Why has the Volvo C40 Recharge already changed technically?

Volvo took its first steps on the electric path with the XC40, which you can also get with combustion engines, as a plug-in hybrid and, for more than three years, as an all-electric variant. On the other hand, the C40, the SUV version with a sloping roofline, has only been available as a 100 percent electric model since its arrival in 2022. Less than a year later, Volvo overhauled things again and updated electric powertrains and battery packs, bringing a change to the versions with an electric motor that has rarely happened in the history of the car. The drive moved from the front wheels to the rear wheels. In itself, this is a lot easier with an EV than with a car with a combustion engine. The renewed electric motor should be more efficient and a battery pack with more capacity ensures more driving range. And driving forces on the front wheels are a thing of the past.

Wouldn’t an XC40 rather than a C40 have made more sense in this comparison?

For this comparison we take the C40 Single Motor Extended Range with a capacity of 252 hp and a net battery capacity of 78 kWh. There is nothing to choose from with the BMW iX1. It always has two electric motors and 313 hp. The net battery capacity is 64.7 kWh. Why an iX1 against a C40 and not an XC40? The C40 was available for a comparison test in the period we wanted and the X2, which will also be an SUV with a sloping roofline, is still waiting.

Are the BMW iX1 and the Volvo C40 Recharge comparable in size?

The BMW iX1 may be the smallest EV of the brand, but you are talking about a car that is exactly 4.5 meters long. This makes it longer from the front to the rear bumper than the Volvo C40. However, the interior dimensions say more. Because the wheelbase is about the same, the Volvo certainly doesn’t look tighter inside. That does not apply to the headroom in the back and the luggage space of the C40 is also smaller than that of the BMW. You sit in the Volvo as a person of average height with your crown against the headliner, although you do have more legroom. A panoramic roof in this version provides a lot of light. It is remarkable that you cannot conjure up a screen by pressing a button to make it darker, and the roof cannot open either. The BMW has a panoramic roof in combination with a sliding-tilting roof. The spatial layout of the Volvo is different. In the front you have huge door pockets and deep pockets in the center console. A so-called frunk in the nose makes many EV fanatics happy. They sometimes seem to only take a car seriously if there is such a space under the front cover in which you can store the charging cable. The BMW iX1 does not have one, although there is a deep compartment under the floor of the luggage compartment in which you can. Fortunately, the Volvo also has that.

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