What attributes define an SUV now days? Is it tall ride height? The option of all-wheel drive? With each model year that passes, the line between sport utility vehicle and station wagon has become increasingly blurred. The new BMW X1 continues this trend, making the distinction even fuzzier. Of course, BMW classifies the new BMW X1 as a SUV, but the low ride height and option of a front-wheel drive version may leave potential buyers scratching their heads.
Even if the new BMW X1 defies classification, it still provides the quintessential driving experience one would expect from a BMW. BMW has updated all of the X1’s available engines and has expanded the lineup to include three diesel powerplants. The oil-burners all share the same 1995cc aluminium block, available as either the 143bhp 1.8d or the 184bhp 2.0d depending on whether the vehicle is the sDrive (FWD) or xDrive (AWD) version. Of course, if you really want to add a boost to your daily commute, opt for the BMW X1 2.5d armed with 218bhp.
All of the new BMW X1 variants provide a spirited driving experience, including the entry level sDrive1.8d which sprints to 60mph in just 9.3 seconds, topping out at 125mph. The more £’s you spend, the faster you go – the 2.0d gets to 60mph in just 7.5 seconds. As expected, the xDrive 2.5d is the performance champ being propelled to the 60mph benchmark in only 6.5 seconds with the aid of twin-turbos and AWD traction. Depending on whether you prefer to do the work yourself, or let microprocessors do the decision making for you, the X1 can be had with either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Excellent performance does not come at the cost of economy either. The most miserly of the new BMW X1 lineup is the sDrive 2.0d Efficiency Dynamics which nets 62.8 mpg on combined cycle and emissions of only 119g/km. Even pavement shredding, the xDrive 2.5d achieves an impressive 51.4mpg combined with 145g/km being emitted from the tailpipe.
The latest incarnation of the X1 has left the SUVs profile basically unchanged. While still sporting a familiar face, subtle changes have been implemented including additional painted surfaces and bigger headlights equipped with optional xenon lights, LED corona and LED active eyebrow (yes, you read that correctly). The side view of the X1 gets the plastic cladding trimmed down compared to the previous model year, as well as indicators in the door mirrors. At the tail end of the ride, a new under guard has been added in an effort to make the vehicle appear less of a road hound and more road ready.
The living quarters of the new BMW X1 have received some alterations as well including higher quality material for the centre console and sound system panel. If you choose the optional satellite navigation, an aesthetically pleasing operational screen comes along as part of the package. The floor plan of the X1 is adequate, providing ample cargo space (1,350 litres) if the rear seats are folded down. On the other hand, if you intend to carry passengers in the back seats rather than luggage, be warned, the back seats do not provide much leg room.
If you’re on a strict budget, the entry level SE model still provides lots of goodies including 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, a USB equipped sound system and some cow hide on the steering wheel. If you want to stand out in a crowded car park, the sport model is the way to go. Specifying this trim level gets you fancy exhaust pipes as well as grill and trim components finished in a swanky high-gloss black. The active styling carries over into the interior and includes special sport seats and steering wheel. Exclusive red stitching adorns the aforementioned items as well as the floor mats and gearshift.
If the boy racer look isn’t your style and you prefer a little more sophistication, opt for the xLine which snags you 18-inch bling, as well as chrome tail pipe and grill slants. The exterior trim gets additional aluminium bits and pieces and the interior gets leather seats with an ‘X’ stitched into the headrests letting everyone know who’s boss. Finally, if you aspire to make all other X1 owners seethe with jealousy, you’ll want the M sport model. This is the sexiest of the group, flaunting a body kit, 18-inch M specific rims and exterior trim. The cockpit is adorned with leather (of course), anthracite head liner, seductive dark brushed aluminium trim and a leather wrapped exclusive M steering wheel.
Whether the new BMW X1 is best described as a car or an SUV doesn’t matter – its excellent engineering and design defy classification. The complaint of the previous model year feeling “cheap” has been addressed in the latest iteration, with proper refinements to the interior and exterior. The X1 lineup now has the hardware to satisfy a large range of consumers as well, from the eco-friendly sDrive 2.0d EfficientDynamics to the 218bhp xDrive 2.5d bruiser. The X1 is well poised to take a bite out of the SUV-crossover-hatchback market.
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