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New BMW X1 review: This might just be the best small luxury SUV

The new BMW X1 makes for an impressive package, especially when you compare it to its predecessor. For the money, the new X1 might just be the best small luxury SUV out there.

autos Updated: Apr 05, 2016 16:49 IST
Nikhil Bhatia
The new X1 is distinctly BMW in terms of looks.
The new X1 is distinctly BMW in terms of looks.(Autocar)

BMW launched the second-generation X1 at the 2016 Auto Expo. The new X1 looks completely different from the model it replaces. The elongated hood of the first-generation X1 has been ditched for a shorter one, which, when combined with the taller height of the car, makes for a well-proportioned baby SUV instead of a jacked-up estate.

The new X1 is distinctly BMW in terms of looks, with that signature kidney grille up front, bracketed by sharply shaped LED headlights with trademark BMW LED rings. From the side, the new X1 looks beefier than its predecessor, something that is underscored by the mildly flared wheel arches and the rising beltline. The rear is quite clean, with large, well-detailed LED taillights. Though the new X1 is slightly shorter in length than its predecessor, its increased height makes it look bigger as a whole.

The new X1 is a front-wheel-drive vehicle, as compared to the rear-wheel-drive layout of the first generation. One advantage of this is evident in the form of interior packaging. As compared to the first-generation car, there is plenty of knee-room, head-room and shoulder-room. The rear seat itself is very comfortable, affording passengers a great seating position as well as good cushioning.

The driving position in the X1 is higher, and feels more SUV-like. This high seating position, coupled with the low dashboard allows good visibility of the road ahead.

The dashboard is typically BMW. It is neat and uncluttered and the cabin quality, on the whole, is quite good.

The top-spec M Sport trim comes with well-contoured powered front seats that look rich and offer great support. This top trim also comes with a three-spoke steering wheel and paddle shifters, both of which add to a measure of sportiness to the car. You also get a heads-up display, panoramic sunroof and a high-resolution 8.8-inch display for the iDrive infotainment system (which, by the way, also has navigation and on-board music storage). The lesser xLine trim gets a smaller 6.5 inch screen for the iDrive system. Both trims, however, still lack a reversing camera.

The new X1 impresses in terms of practicality too, with a spacious 505-litre boot, which can be expanded by flattening the power-fold rear seats. And in atypical BMW fashion, beneath the floor of the boot sits a proper space-saver spare tyre.

The new X1 will only come with one diesel option – BMW’s latest 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine that produces peak power of 187bhp and a strong peak torque of 40.7kgm. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.

Buyers, however, do get an option between front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive. The all-wheel-drive system is driven by BMW’s xDrive system, which powers only the front wheels in normal driving conditions, but is capable of sending up to 100 percent of the torque to the rear wheels if needed.

On the road, the engine is alert from early on in the rev range, offers a strong mid-range and will happily rev to 5,000 rpm in manual mode (which is impressive for a diesel engine). Throughout the complete rev range, there is easy access to power. The engine feels liveliest in Sport mode, but it is quick in Comfort mode too. The gearbox here deserves a special mention – it is quick shifting and manages to bring out the best in the engine.

The X1’s case is further strengthened by the ride comfort it affords. The suspension set-up is on the softer side, which is good because it absorbs road imperfections and insulates the cabin well. The X1 is also a well-balanced car, translating to good handling and driving dynamics. In fact, the new X1 claims an equal distribution of weight between the front and the rear. The car handles very well, and is exciting to drive. The steering is a particular highlight, with its precise and well weighted nature.

The new BMW X1 makes for an impressive package, especially when you compare it to its predecessor. The diesel engine provides good performance, the ride quality is great and the handling is accurate. The X1 is an SUV that you would want to drive yourself. It is not as engaging to drive as its predecessor, but it is a more versatile and complete package. And the pot is sweetened by the pricing. BMW has slapped on a starting price tag of Rs 29.9 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), which goes up to Rs 39.9 lakh, undercutting competitors such as the Audi Q3 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA. For the money, the new X1 might just be the best small luxury SUV out there.

In partnership with Autocar India