BMW HAS launched the new X1 compact softroader in Australia this week, with two diesel-engined AWD models spearheading the range until two petrol engines join the lineup in June.
The arrival of the X1 now expands BMW’s local SUV offerings to four distinct models: the X1, X3, X5 and X6. As the baby of the range, the X1 is expected to draw younger buyers to the BMW brand, urban types with “active” lifestyles and maybe a child or two.
Shorter, narrower and lower than the X3, the X1 is also one of the cheapest models in BMW showrooms. At $43,500 for the soon-to-arrive X1 sDrive 18i, it’s less than $5000 more than the base model 1-series hatchback.
Visually, the X1 could best be described as a caricature of its best-selling stablemate, the X5.
The headlights are more catlike and the overall proportions drastically shrunken, but the familial resemblance is strong between the two models.
However, whereas the X5’s glasshouse is large and airy, the X1’s beltine steadily rises towards the rear of the car, so much so that it almost eliminates the “Hoffmeister kink” that’s been a fixture on the C-pillars of nearly all modern BMWs.
It does lend the X1 a sportier look though, and adds some visual weight to the rear of the car. With the shallow rake of the tailgate glass it doesn’t look as cumbersome as a traditional SUV wagon either, but more like a jacked-up hatchback.
Black plastic trim runs from the lower edges of the front bumper, over the wheelarches, along the side sills and across the rear bumper. Satin-finish aluminium accents also adorn the rear bumper and side sills, and the front bumper is treated to prominent silver bars that run across the lower air dam.
A set of 17-inch alloys are standard on all X1 models, with four styles of 18-inch wheels available as options.
Cabin space is roughly comparable to a 3 Series, no small accident considering both the X1 and 3 Series share the same wheelbase.
Black or beige imitation leather is the standard upholstery on offer, while Nevada leather is available in five colours at additional cost.
There’s room for five occupants inside the X1’s cabin, with the rear bench offering a good amount of legroom and headroom. The 40/20/40 split backrest can be reclined from vertical to 31 degrees, further improving rear passenger comfort.
Wih all backrests folded, luggage room expands from 420 litres to 1350 litres – just 35 litres shy of the 3 Series Touring’s luggage capacity.
In standard form, the X1 xDrive 20d and xDrive 23d come with power windows, heated mirrors, cruise control, dusk-sensing headlamps and rain-sensing wipers.
Rear parking sensors, a trip computer, dual-zone climate control and foglights are standard on all models.
A single-CD five-speaker AM/FM stereo is standard, and has both a 3.5mm and USB auxillary input for external music players. Bluetooth phone integration is fitted to all models in the X1 range.
A panoramic sunroof and two grades of satellite navigation are optional extras, as are a six-CD stacker, rear-seat DVD players and a harmon/kardon premium audio system.
Passive safety equipment is comprised of dual front airbags, side airbags for the front seats, full-length curtain airbags and three-point belts on all seats. Stability control, traction control, ABS and BMW’s Cornering Brake Control are standard on all X1s.
Two engines are available from launch, both of them 2.0 litre turbodiesel inline fours. The engine used by the xDrive 20d (the current base model until the arrival of the X1 sDrive 18i), produces 130kW and 350Nm of torque, while the xDrive 23d develops 150kW and 400Nm.
The two petrol engines – both of which arrive in showrooms from June 2010 – are a 2.0 litre inline four and a 3.0 litre inline six.
As the entry-level powertrain, the sDrive 18i’s four-pot is also the least powerful. The 2.0 litre engine puts out 110kW and 200Nm, which pales against the xDrive 25i’s 160kW and 277Nm.
All engines are available with six-speed transmissions, with the sDrive 18i and xDrive 20d having the choice of a manual or automatic gearbox. The 25i and 23d are mated to a six-speed automatic as standard.
The entire X1 range benefits from green-friendly technology such as on-demand ancillaries and regenerative braking, with manual-equipped variants also getting fuel-saving start-stop systems.
Combined fuel economy for the base sDrive 18i manual is claimed to be 8.2 l/100km, with the 2WD sDrive 20d manual the fuel economy leader at 5.3l/100km. The AWD 20d uses 0.5 l/100km more, while the petrol xDrive 25i consumes 9.3 l/100km and the xDrive 23d uses 6.3 l/100km.
The base sDrive 18i is only available with a 2WD drivetrain, but the 20d can be had in either 2WD or AWD. All other models are AWD-only, with a multi-plate electronically-actuated clutch controlling the front-rear torque split.
An optional Performance Control system is available at extra cost, which automatically brakes the inside rear wheel during cornering to enhance agility.
The BMW X1 sDrive 20d, xDrive 20d and xDrive 23d are available now from BMW dealers nationwide, with the petrol-powered sDrive 18i and xDrive 25i due to go on sale in June this year.
Pricing for the range is as follows:
- sDrive18i, manual - $43,500
- sDrive18i, auto - $45,700
- sDrive20d, manual - $49,300
- sDrive20d, auto - $51,500
- xDrive20d, manual - $52,700
- xDrive20d, auto - $54,900
- xDrive25i, auto- $56,800
- xDrive23d, auto- $59,280