The current BMW X1, the second generation model, gets a bit of mixed opinions from BMW enthusiasts. Being the first front-wheel drive BMW, it was bound to take some flak. Though, surprisingly, it didn’t get as much heat as we had originally anticipated. I supposed people understood the reasoning behind the switch, regardless of agreeing with it. Anyway, the new X1 has proven to be a damn fine small SUV, despite having the wrong set of driven wheels. So, to give the X1 a proper test, to find out if it has what it takes to be a real BMW, Auto Express gave it a whirl.
In the UK market, only four engines will be made available and they all displace 2.0 liters and have turbochargers. There’s three 2.0 liter diesel engines, with one making 148 hp (X1 xDrive18d), the second making 187 (X1 xDrive 20d) and the third making 228 (X1 xDrive25d) hp. The petrol engine produces 189 hp in the xDrive20i. Oddly enough, the BMW X1 xDrive25d, with its 228 hp 2.0 liter diesel engine, is the quickest of them all, taking just 6.6 seconds to get to 60 mph. It also only produces 132g/km and manages in the mid to high-50 mpg range on the EU cycle. That’s a pretty excellent performance/economy compromise. All can be mated to an Aisin eight-speed transmission.
But we’ve known about BMW’s excellent diesel engines for ages now (wake up, America, we need them), but the big news is how the new X1 drives. BMW decided to take a more mainstream approach to the new X1, raising the ride height, giving it more interior room and making it much more comfortable and practical as opposed to dynamic and fun, like the previous car was. However, this doesn’t stop the X1 from being lovely to drive, it just makes it more livable as well. According to Auto Express, the new X1’s steering is best in class, even if it isn’t up to par with other BMWs. It can’t be up to par, though, as it’s still front-wheel drive-based, but it can be damn good and it is. It also has good chassis dynamics for its size, is nimble to drive and has good body control. The ride is also quite good.
On the inside, the X1 is business as usual for BMW. While the design is very different from other BMWs, the materials and ergonomics are of typical Bavarian-excellence. This is actually one of the more comfortable interiors to come from BMW, as headroom and legroom are excellent and the cabin is very spacious and open overall, thanks to the front-wheel drive-based layout. Another benefit of its drivetrain change is cargo space. Without the rear-drive layout, BMW was able to give the X1 a bigger ‘boot’ than the previous model. So the new X1 is more practical than the previous car and one of the more practical cars in its segment.
Overall, the new X1 is an excellent vehicle. It may not scream “Motorsport Heritage” like other BMWs do, but it’s a fantastic all-around package. It looks great, one of the best looking new BMWs in my humble opinion, has a great interior, drives very well and is practical to boot (see what I did there, with boot, like trunk?). It’s also cheap, starting at £26,780 in the UK and at $34,800 in the US, it’s one of the most affordable BMWs on the road. It’s really very difficult to pass up that kind of value. The BMW X1 may very well be the best small SUV on the market.