2.0L I4 Twin-Scroll Turbo - 8-Speed Steptronic Auto
228 HP @ 5000 rpm
258 lb-ft @ 1250 rpm
The BMW X1 was always great to drive and a strong performer in terms of handling and performance, but its looks never carried the elegance the firm is otherwise known for. Also, for a sports activity vehicle, it was not very adventurous, spacious or practical. Thankfully, there is a new one now, and after being briefly exposed to it, we are glad to let you know, that all those issues from the past seem to have been addressed.
For starters, the all-new 2016 BMW X1 is now a very good looking crossover as it looks like a baby X5. It has elegant lines and the design framework follows all the latest elements found on other X-series models. Inside, the improvement is radical; it now looks unique and all the materials used are high grade and mostly soft to the touch. Fit and finish is excellent and the design of the dash is modern, very ergonomic and has two new elements; a tall gear lever which is now mechanical and an arm hugging all the controls on the lower centre console, almost like in the Jaguar F-Type and Corvette C7.
Roominess has been greatly improved as well, as passengers in the front have plenty of room and the cabin feels airy, also thanks to the good visibility and lots of light let in from the panorama roof. The front seats are very comfortable and supportive and are adjustable in all the desired ways, including leg support. The driving position is slightly upright compared to a regular car and the steering wheel and instrument cluster are marginally tilted backwards. The steering-wheel is heated, very nice to grab and good to look at and the paddle shifters are easy to reach and a joy to use.
Passengers in the back seat will be rather comfortable in this new model as the available legroom and headroom has increased enough to allow even 6ft tall adults to fit without complaints. The seats are not the softest but at least they are soft enough and well defined. Also, the seats are 40:20:40 split foldable and reclinable; and best of all, they also slide. This way, if you need to sacrifice some rear space for some extra trunk capacity, you can do so without totally eliminating the seats. The trunk has also grown in size and is now a very useful 505L. Access is easy thanks to the power tailgate and thanks to the normalized shape and hidden compartment below, the overall loading capacity is great.
The one and only engine option for now is the 2.0L 4-cylinder twin-scroll turbo that outputs 228 HP and 258 lb-ft or torque. Mated to the 8-speed automatic Steptronic gearbox, it can hit 100km/h in 8.0 seconds and on the go it feels brisk and never out of breath. Its lively spirit makes it feel much faster than the numbers suggest, but it does get a bit harsh under full throttle. Despite the requirement for premium gas, it is quite frugal averaging about 10.7lt/100km in the city and 7.4 on the highway.
On the road, the new X1 has not lost any of its talents, despite adding one that usually compromises handling and dynamics; descent off-road ability. It is true, the ground clearance is enough for reasonable off-roading, perhaps tackling that final stretch of road leading to the beach, lake or cottage. The traction control, together with the very fast xDrive system works wonders in delivering traction in shallow mud, slippery rocky gravel, grass or snow. Also, the hill-decent-control is very precise and can be set to as slow as needed; and it works really well. Away from unpaved trails, the X1 remains athletic and as agile as its non-SAV siblings. It turns in well, body roll is minimal and the steering feels sharp, making it one of the best little crossovers to drive. At the limit, it is progressive and predictable, understeering a little before the stability control interferes. The brake pedal also has a very positive feel, while the brakes are strong and resist fade well. From 100km/h it came to a complete stop in 41m, a very good result for the class.
The base price for the 2016 BMW X1 has been set to $38,800, while our test vehicle ($47,690) was a prime example of a well equipped vehicle, featuring M sport suspension, adaptive LED headlights, panorama sunroof, sport seats, heated steering wheel, power tailgate, heads-up-display, navigation system with real time traffic and BMW Connected Drive services, park distance control, hill descent control, Harman Kardon sound system, leather upholstery, 19” alloys with run-flat tires and sliding and reclining rear seats.
Overall, the all-new 2016 BMW X1 is surely a very desirable vehicle sold at a premium price, but in contrast to the outgoing model, this time it is much easier to justify purchasing one.