Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: February 13, 2018
BMW has been on a mission to satiate North America’s appetite for crossovers. With the X3 and X5 foundation, BMW has pretty much unveiled crossover counterparts for its entire sedan lineup, including a trio of SAVs (Sports Activity Vehicles) à la X4, X6, and a soon-to-be X2 and X7.
Now in its second generation, the X1 is BMW’s smallest crossover in the portfolio yet is also the most diverse from BMW’s not-so-secret formula to success. Unlike their typical ingredient list which includes a silky smooth straight-six, a balanced chassis, and rear-wheel drive setup, the X1 follows a different formula. That’s right, sporting a transversely mounted 4-cylinder engine and front wheel drive (naturally), at first glance, the apple appears to have fallen far from the tree.
On the outside, the X1 looks right at home with the rest of the BMW family. Signature kidney grills match other X-models on sale, and the headlights utilize the brand’s LED technology. Proportionally, it’s taller than the outgoing X1 and thus looks more convincing as an SUV. Frankly, the former looked more like a wagon on stilts. The X1 is a handsome vehicle but it doesn’t push the envelope in design. But appearances can be misleading, and while the DNA under the beautiful Atlantic Grey metallic paint may be mutated, the X1 does a lot right to convey the Bavarian spirit.
For starters, smart packaging and high build quality provide a spacious environment for both the driver and front passenger. My tester came equipped with chocolate mocha leather seating surfaces against exposed grain dark wood accents – a beautiful colour combo that oozes luxury. Nooks and crannies remain sparse for pocket change and other loose items (typical of a German cabin), though the centre console remains driver-oriented and ergonomic. Layout of the buttons are immediately familiar to anyone that has been in a modern BMW. Customer’s have the choice of either a 6.5-inch or 8.8-inch display with the latter running the latest iDrive software. Overhead is one of the largest double-panel sunroofs I have seen (since the Hyundai Santa Fe) and occupies the majority of the X1’s ceiling real estate.
Under the hood sits a 2.0L inline four B48 modular motor; supplanting the N20 found in its predecessor. A modular designation allows versatility in the motor’s arrangement allowing for both rear or front wheel drive applications. Power and torque output has decreased from the outgoing model - down 20 and 37 respectively. In its current state of tune, the X1’s underpinnings are identical to the Mini Cooper JCW Clubman and while it may seem strange, it is in this regard that the X1 really channels the BMW spirit.
Power is routed via a new Aisin-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission to the front wheels, while the rear only kicks in when slip is detected, unlike traditional xDrive systems that offered the opposite. Remember, appearances can be misleading and despite preconceived front-wheel drive drawbacks, the X1 delivers a rewarding driving experience. Under most driving situations, the front biased layout is imperceptible. Push hard in a corner and the stiff suspension setup works to limit pitch and yaw, instead letting all four tires do their job and return heaps of grip. Steering is responsive, lending to an agile feeling vehicle, however the wheel offers no feedback as to the whereabouts of the front axle.
Tip in on the throttle and the subcompact responds in kind. BMW’s twin-scroll turbo introduces a minute amount of lag with power ramping up quickly as the turbo spools. Though excitement flattens out past 6,000 RPM as the small snail reaches a limit to its breathing power - a trade off for a more responsive turbocharger. The drawbacks don’t end there. While other subcompacts may be less rewarding, they are certainly more comfortable. The X1, even in the comfiest of the three settings, transmits all road imperfections to passengers.
At an as-tested price of $52,540 there is a lot that the X1 has to offer. Convenience features include a power liftgate (that you operate by swinging your leg under the bumper), a large panoramic roof, and BMW’s latest iDrive software. Cargo space is up 85 litres from the old X1 to a total of 505 litres, making this one of the most practical in the luxury subcompact crossover segment.
If it were up to me, I’d take this X1 as is, with the Premium Package Enhanced, which adds all the convenience features you’d need including a heads-up display, heated steering wheel, comfort access, navigation, and automatic trunk. I’d skip the Driver’s Assistance Package but at $1,750 it’s not too much to ask for when it includes lane departure warning, forward collision warning, automatic high beams, and park distance control for the front and rear of the vehicle.
When judged against the rest of the competitive landscape, the X1 is a standout thanks to a strong mix of good driving dynamics, excellent build quality, and unwavering practicality. If you’ve been holding out on a Mini Cooper Clubman because of its limited space and tight cabin, then the X1 might strike your fancy.
型号 Model: 2018 BMW X1 xDrive28i
顏色 Paint Type: Atlantic Grey Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $40,600
試車售價 Price as Tested: $52,540
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,670
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,455 / 2,060 / 1,598
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 228 hp @ 5,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD