This BMW X1 is the second generation of the company’s smallest crossover. There’s been a major change this time around. It’s based not on a natively rear-drive platform, but on BMW’s new front-drive/4WD components (the same setup is already used in the 2 Series Active Tourer MPV). This means a transverse engine, freeing up extra cabin space.
In size and space, this brings it into line with the meat of the big-selling family crossover market, such as the Ford Kuga. But of course it’s more expensive than the Ford and can be had with more sophisticated equipment. Not that you’ll be considering the Ford: this is all about BMW X1 vs Audi Q3. Most versions are 4WD except the base 18d diesel. All engines, petrol or diesel, are 2.0-litre jobs from BMWs new powertrain family.
STYLE AND DESIGN ;
As expected, the second-gen X1 sports an evolutionary design with styling cues borrowed from its bigger siblings, the X3 and X5. The front fascia features a slightly bigger twin-kidney grille and longer, sleeker headlamps. Down below, the X1 received larger fog lamps and larger air intakes, making it seem not only bigger than its predecessor, but more aggressive as well. In all, it seems as if the X1 is no longer the ugly duckling of the BMW crossover family.
When viewed from the side, the X1 seems nearly identical to its predecessor from the waist down. The trademark beltline is still in place, while the side skirt area is creased in a similar fashion as on the previous model. However, things are different from the waist up, with a taller glass area, a bigger quarter window, and a raked roofline.
The rear fascia has received its fair share of upgrades as well, starting with significantly larger taillights, which look way better than the previous units, and a better sculpted tailgate and upper bumper area.Overall, it seems the X1 has become a baby X5, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Mini SUVs aren’t exactly appealing design-wise, but BMW tried really hard with the X1 and the result is quite good.
CABIN AND COMFORT ;
Looking at the generous dimensions of the vehicle on the outside, I was a bit surprised when I opened the door to step into the driver’s seat. The cabin feels compact and even the dashboard and centre console seem to have a compact layout. Just like any other BMW, ergonomics are spot on and the dash is very driver centric. Materials used all over feel very upmarket and premium but when you drive this X1 back to back with any other car from the same stable, say the 3-Series, that is when you realise how superior the other car feels.
There are lesser number of buttons on the steering wheel, centre console, etc. and even though you do get a lot of features, the X1 does make you feel evident that yes it is one of the cheapest BMWs around. Even the round knob that is used to control the infotainment system is smaller in size. I found the front seats very comfortable and finding that perfect driving position is super easy thanks to the electric seat controls. The driving position itself feels much like that of a crossover and if you’re expecting a proper SUV-like driving position that feels commanding, then you’ll be disappointed.
The rear seats are comfortable too and space is better than the old X1. You also get a basic centre armrest at the rear. The best part about the new X1 is the large windows that BMW has endowed and it makes the cabin feel very airy and lends a positive vibe. Gone is the claustrophobic feel that you get in cars with smaller glass areas. If you’re buying a car for Rs. 40 odd lakhs you expect it to have a ton of fancy gizmos (a la Skoda Superb or Ford Endeavour) but BMW is known to skip a lot of features from the standard equipment list and the X1 is no different. It misses out on vital stuff like a parking camera. It doesn’t even have cruise control.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ;
A bit about the mechanicals first. For now, the X1 is available only in diesel form and uses BMW’s latest 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine. Peak power is an impressive 187bhp and max torque is a strong 40.7kgm. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard fit, but buyers have the option to choose between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, the two obviously available at different price points. In normal driving conditions, the xDrive system powers the front wheels, but when needed, it can send 100 percent of the torque to the rear axle. So how does it all come together?
The engine’s alert from 1,500rpm on, has got a strong mid-range and will even rev happily to 5,000rpm with the gearbox in manual mode. There’s great access to power and you really won’t be left wanting for more anywhere in the rev range. Of course, the engine feels its liveliest best in Sport, but Comfort is quick too. As with all modern BMWs, the quick-shifting gearbox deserves praise here. It really does bring the best out of the engine.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
A robust set of disc brakes are fitted to all its four wheels. The advanced anti lock braking system with brake assist are also on the offer that further boosts this mechanism. The top end variant features an M Sport suspension system that is designed for great driving dynamics. This system makes for a smooth ride and keeps the huge machine balanced and stable on all surfaces. On the other hand, it comes with a servotronic, electromechanical power steering column that is active only when you steer it. This provides good response and helps you maneuver easily in any road condition.
BRAKING AND SAFETY ;
For braking, BMW X1 has powerful ventilated disc brakes for all the tyres with ABS, EBD and Brake Assist. In addition, it also include six airbags, three point seat belts with front pyrotechnic belt tensioners and force limiters, the cornering brake control, dynamic stability as well as traction control, ISOFIX child seat mounting, run flat indicator, emergency spare wheel, and side impact protection among a host of others.
The X1 is a really big step over its predecessor and a better vehicle in almost every way. It is now stylish, genuinely spacious and finally offers all-wheel drive. Pricing goes like this – sDrive20d Expedition is priced at Rs 37.75 lakh (all prices on road Mumbai), sDrive20d xLine at Rs 42.67 lakh, xDrive 20d xLine at Rs 45.12 lakh and finally the xDrive M Sport at Rs 48.93 lakh. That puts it on the higher side of the segment and about Rs 6 lakh more than the smaller Mercedes-Benz GLA. However, the M Sport manages to undercut its main rival, the top Audi Q3 Premium Plus by about Rs 20,000. There’s no doubt that the new X1 is going to do considerably better than its predecessor.