WITH THE 2016 BMW X1, IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE BMW FAMILY FACE, YOU COULD BE FORGIVEN FOR NOT RECOGNISING IT FROM THE OLD.
It isn’t just the changed styling that makes it so different, it’s the vastly improved way the new model drives, and the space inside. In fact, in nearly every way - in terms of comfort, space, technology and refinement - the new X1 leaves the old model for dead.
With compact SUV’s fast becoming the ‘must have’ fashion item, BMW has made the right move at the right time with its sharply styled, and so, so much more desirable, new X1 range.
Vehicle Style: Compact luxury SUV
Price: $56,500 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 140kW/400Nm 2.0 4cyl turbo diesel | 8spd automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.9 l/100km | tested: 5.8 l/100km
Among the premium compact SUV crowd, BMW’s X1 is the first cab off the rank with 'a second generation'. And this new-gen X1, besides looking less of a frump, comes with some major changes.
For a start, it sits on the UKL1 platform that sits beneath MINI’s new range and the 2 Series Active Tourer. This simple fact brings the biggest change of all - a move from a rear-wheel-drive platform to a front-wheel-drive one.
Importantly, that brings extra interior flexibility - something few SUV owners are likely to complain about.
The xDrive20d tested here also adds all-wheel-drive grip. But that's not all. We put it through its paces to understand a little more about what sits behind the new X1's new-found appeal.
- Standard equipment: Sensatec man-made leather upholstery, cruise control with speed limiter, rear view camera, front and rear park sensors, LED headlights with highbeam assist, auto dimming rear view mirror, dual zone climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, xLine exterior package
- Infotainment: 6.5-inch display, iDrive controller, satellite navigation, five-speaker audio, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, USB inpu, CD/AM/FM/MP3 playback
- Options fitted: Comfort Package incl; proximity key, kick-to-open tailgate, powered front sets, front seat heating, auto dimming exterior mirros $2700, Aluminium interior trim $190, Dakota leather seat trim $1690 - prices quoted do not include LCT which only becomes applicable if the total vehicle price exceeds $75,375
- Cargo volume: 505 litres m inimum, 1550 litres maximum
The interior of the X1 is surprisingly roomy, given the compact overall dimensions of the exterior. You can thank the X1’s move to the BMW Group’s UKL1 front- (and all-) wheel-drive platform for that.
Thanks to the extra space liberated inside, the X1 is a more comfortable place to travel, particularly if you’re in the rear, which features a sliding base and reclining backrest.
Up front, the seating position has the right sporty appeal, but, while there’s a useful range of travel to the front seats, the seats themselves might be a touch on the small side, with a short seat-cushion the primary offender.
Aside from that, this new generation of X1 really moves interior presentation forward over its predecessor, there are better quality finishes throughout, more soft-touch surfaces, regrouped controls, and a proper sense that you’re in something premium.
Satellite navigation is a standard inclusion, accessed via a 6.5 inch screen linked to BMW’s iDrive controller. While the opportunity exists to upgrade the screen size to 8.8 inches, in standard form it is clear and informative, with iDrive perfectly logical to operate.
While standard trim is Sensatec man-made leather with gloss-black trims, there is a range of personalisation and colour choices. Dakota leather and aluminium trim (as fitted to this test car) join a list of two Sensatec finishes, four leathers, and four trim-finishes
Head to the boot and there’s a minimum 505 litres of space, growing to 1550 litres with the 40:20:40 folding rear seat dropped out of the way - something you can do from inside the boot.
There’s also an electrically operated tailgate for ease of leading, with a configurable opening height to avoid roof strike.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 140kW/400Nm 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, on-demand all-wheel-drive
- Suspension: Single-joint strut front suspension, multi-link rear suspension
- Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted Servotronic power steering, turning circle: 11.4m
- Towing capacity: 2000kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Thanks to the more powerful of the two diesel engine choices available, the xDrive20d doesn’t feel short of zip. There’s a gutsy 140kW and 400Nm underfoot, linked to an on-demand all-wheel-drive system, should conditions demand.
Those 400Nm provide a hefty amount of shove for such a compact package, and, although it isn’t exactly a tear-away, the X1 feels comfortably swift, and, when called on for overtaking, it doesn't need to spend time thinking about it. Give it a 'shoeful', and it will quickly and strongly respond.
At idle it’s smooth and calm, you might pick a faint diesel rattle, but engine noise is well insulated.
Linked to an eight-speed automatic, the X1 xDrive20d goes about its business with a minimum of fuss. Drive is weighted to the front, but will seamlessly engage the rear wheels if traction is low or when giving things a bit of stick.
The transmission isn’t calibrated quite as crisply as you’ll find in BMW’s sedan range (it is a different unit entirely), but it fills the less-urgent SUV role well.
Ride falls on the firmer side of the spectrum, but isn’t uncomfortable. While there’s a distinctly German feel to it, thatmeans engineered for table-top surfaces, we really found little to complain about in day-to-day use in and when heading out of town.
While it’s firm over bumps, it will ride out speed-humps and big dips just fine.
There’s certainly reduced body roll, and the X1 isn’t afraid of a set of corners. To top it off, in situations with lower grip, the all-wheel-drive system quickly adjusts torque to the rear wheels with barely any noticeable lag.
Outward visibility could be a little clearer thanks to thick pillars, however, the inclusion of a small window in the rear quarter-panel gives the X1 an advantage over the GLA.
ANCAP rating: The X1 range has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Six airbags (dual side, dual front side, and full length curtain), Dynamic stability control including ABS brakes, cornering brake control, brake assist, and dynamic traction control, three point seat belts and adjustable head restraints on all seats, plus force-limiting seatbelt pretensioners for front seats.
Driver aids include lane departure warning, forward collision warning, pedestrian warning, and light city braking function (to reduce speed until the driver can take over brake control).
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The most obvious rival has to be the Mercedes-Benz GLA, but it can feel a little tight in the rear, while Audi’s Q3 is starting to show its age among this group.
You might also like the more spacious Lexus NX despite its lack of a diesel variant , or, if swift looks are the order of the day, why not try the Volvo V40 Cross Country?
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
User friendly for daily use, with a large and versatile interior, and not too pricey, the X1 will feel 'just right' for active younger couples looking for a bit of room and a bit of versatilityin an affordable premium badge.
From commuter duties, to weekends away, to ferrying friends and family around, we found the X1 does with aplomb.
Inside, it feels properly premium, while externally it looks a lot more modern and athletic than the 'grandpa' looks of the first model X1 it replaces.
Although the X1 xDrive20d is smaller than a 3 Series wagon, it is also some $10,000 less than the cheapest of those.
And it offers a meaty diesel, and all-wheel-drive versatility.
There’s also an ever-so-slightly larger boot in the X1, and more rear seat legroom than a 3 Series wagon.
It feels newer, because 'it is', feels a splash more modern, and it is that too, and is also as good to drive as any entry-level 3 Series wagon. All arguments in the X1’s favour, and suggesting that you should have a lot.
We like this one quite a lot.