Introduction: First showcased as a concept back in 2008, X1 entered production in 2009. In India, the X1 first arrived in December 2010. With price starting from Rs 22 lakhs, this made the new X1 most affordable BMW car in India. The launch of X1 helped BMW gain on sales, helping them maintain their title of No 1 luxury car maker in India at that time. By end of 2012, BMW India started local production of X1 from their plant in Chennai, and later in February 2013, they launched the facelift variant in the presence of Bollywood actress Dia Mirza.
Exteriors: Not an outright SUV, the X1 is more like a crossover. Based on the same platform as that of 3 Series (E91), which is similar to that of BMW’s proper family SUV – the X3, X1 is built for everyday use, and some limited offroad on the side.
Speaking about its looks, the X1 fails to impress as an SUV. Compared to rivals, it looks less daunting. Instead of standing tall and proud, the X1 looks hunched. But that is if you consider it as an SUV. If you are to consider for what it is, a crossover, something between the 1 Series and X3, the X1 starts to show its impressive features.
In the front you have a signature design-features which are seen on other BMW X models. This includes sweeping bonnet, kidney grille, muscular wheel arches, tripartite air intake, new foglamp surrounds, Xenon headlights with LED DRLs, and side indicators embedded inside the ORVM. The longer wheelbase and well designed contours give the X1 a sporty and aerodynamic look from the side.
Rear matches the overall sporty look with roof spoiler, sharp line across in the centre in between the LED tail lights.
Interiors: Like the exterior design, the interiors too remain pretty much unchanged as compared to the pre-facelift variant. But, there is a stark improvement in the quality of fabric and materials used. The model we got for our review, was top of the line sDrive 20d xLine. It features Fine-wood trim ‘Fineline’ light, design features in glacier silver, sport leather steering wheel, velour floor mats, and ambiance lighting with switchable colour.
The cockpit design is now more driver centric. The side of the centre console is now angled a bit more towards the driver, aimed at giving a sporty driving pleasure. The steering wheel too has been made thinner, adding to its sporty appeal. Gear knob now gets the standard BMW stick, unlike the plain looking one which was seen in the older model.
Powered by the iDrive operating system, the 8.8 inch screen takes care of navigation and multimedia display. You can input commands via steering wheel mounted controls or by the circular wheel know located next to the gear lever.
Instrument control panel features two large circular dials and a LCD display in the centre. The analogue dials display speed, fuel level, mileage and tachometer. The digital display takes care of seat belt indicator, trip meter, temperature, range, etc. Overall, the interiors finish looks classy.
Front seats offer ample support and are very comfortable. Driver seat gets electronic control with memory function. Rear seats too offer good comfort. It can also be reclined for added comfort. Though there are three headrests, seating three will not be pleasant for the centre passenger due to transmission tunnel.
Otherwise, the arrangement is perfect for two, with centre arm-rest out. Legroom and headroom is enough. Thanks to the large windows and panoramic sunroof, the cabin is lit with natural light, giving a very premium ambient.
Air condition works perfectly and cools the cabin instantly. But, on a hot sunny day, rear passengers might find it a little uncomfortable due to the absence of rear AC vents. Keeping fan speed high, increases cabin noise, disrupting the peace inside.
Speaking about storage spaces, they are in ample inside the cabin. Each doors can easily hold 1 liter bottles, and other things like files, papers, etc. Boot space is at 420 litres, perfect to store your luggage when heading out. If you don’d need the four seats, you can recline rear seats and multiply storage by as much as three times. To keep your luggage in place, there are smart hooks, which will help you tie a rope around your luggage and keep it secure. The finishing inside the boot area is also of good quality.
Engine, Transmission and Mileage: Though offered in 3 trims, under the hood all three of them get the same engine treatment. Powering the BMW X1 in India is the 2.0l inline 4 diesel engine generating 184 hp at 4000 rpm and 380 Nm torque in between 1750 – 2750 rpm. This coupled with a 8 speed automatic transmission, you get a top speed of 205 kmph, 0-100 kmph sprint time of 7.9 seconds, and a claimed mileage of 17.05 kmpl. During our review, we managed to score fuel efficiency of 13 kmpl.
Safety and Comfort: The new BMW X1 comes loaded with safety and comfort features, just like any other BMW. For your safety, X1 offers – front airbags, side airbags and head airbags; ABS, CBC – Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control, Electronic vehicle immobilizer and crash sensor, run flat tyres with run flat indicators, side impact protection, and three point seat belts.
For your comfort, on-board features include park assist, rain sensing wipers, automatic driving lights, mirrors with anti-dazzle function, automatic AC with 2 zone climate controls, start/stop button, hands free facility, USB interface, BMW apps, HiFi loudspeaker system, DVD, integrated hard drive, and navigation system with colour display.
Driving Dynamics: The X1 is nothing but a 3 Series underneath. Though it has a larger ground clearance, and is also tuned slightly differently, it still drives like a 3 Series. In city traffic, it is butter smooth to drive around. Steering is light at low speeds, and starts weighing in appropriately as you increase your speed. 17 inch alloys with 225/50 run flat takes care of bumps and potholes in an even manner. But, due to its long wheelbase, there are chances you might scrape the underbody on those uneven bumps, or while off-roading.
On the highway too, the X1 is composed, but quick. The 8 speed auto-box is quick and you can notice how well the car accelerates. A simple tap on the accelerator paddle, and the X1 surges forward. The cars holds the road well when cornering, even when traction control is off (thanks to a long wheelbase and a low-slung design). Though not very tall, the stiff suspension setting delivers some amount of body roll when cornering. Brakes have good bite in them and ABS kicks in appropriately, giving a controlled braking throughout.
Verdict: BMW X1 comes with the most powerful diesel motor in the segment and is the only rear wheel driven option in the segment. But, it is not an SUV, at most it is a bigger hatch with a powerful engine and a rear wheel drive. So if you are looking for a proper SUV, the X1 is not for you. But, if you want to experience some driving fun, along with the practicality of a crossover, X1 is the car you should be considering.
Why would you buy BMW X1
– Driving pleasure
Why would you not buy BMW X1
– Low road presence
Images – Ashwin Ram