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BMW X1: Review; Under new avatar, ‘puny’ car acquires SUV proportions

The car which established the luxury compact SUV segment in India returns in a stately avatar. It now looks a well-proportioned SUV, instead of a puny, extended hatchback

By: | Updated: September 23, 2016 8:23 AM
The cabin has been completely redesigned. The elevated seating position is typical of a BMW X model—you get a very good view of the road from the driver’s seat.  (Image Source: Website) The cabin has been completely redesigned. The elevated seating position is typical of a BMW X model—you get a very good view of the road from the driver’s seat. (Image Source: Website)

When it was launched in December 2010, the X1 opened a new vehicle segment in India. For ‘only’ Rs 22 lakh, this SUV-lookalike was the most affordable BMW and gave even upper-middle class Indians a ticket to the luxury club. SUV-crazy Indians loved to flaunt it.

Success followed immediately.

The competition—Mercedes-Benz and Audi—didn’t have an answer, and the X1 even managed to take away sales from bigger SUVs like Toyota Fortuner, Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai Santa Fe.

Success, however, was short-lived.

Soon, Audi launched the Q3, which was an abler SUV and looked like one. Also, with time, the major shortcomings of the X1—odd design and cramped interiors—started getting reflected.

This year BMW has launched the new X1, which addresses all the weaknesses of the older model. So, how good is it?

First, unlike the older model, this one looks like an SUV—BMW calls it a sports activity vehicle (SAV). It has rugged proportions, powerfully sculpted surfaces and all the hallmark visuals of an SUV. The ‘three-eyed’ face formed by the twin circular LED headlights and fog lamps is a characteristic design.

The cabin has been completely redesigned. The elevated seating position is typical of a BMW X model—you get a very good view of the road from the driver’s seat. Seats are electrically adjustable on both the driver and front passenger sides. The best thing is the X1 is now the most spacious car in its segment, having grown in both height and cabin space compared to its predecessor. The luggage compartment is huge—you get 505 litres of storage space, and most of it is usable. The rear seat can be folded down to increase the compartment capacity to a massive 1,550 litres.

There are three design schemes, in case you want to match the car to your taste—Expedition, xLine and M Sport.

The most affordable is the Expedition trim, for Rs 29.9 lakh. The xLine emphasises its offroading character—it gets aluminium add-ons and 18-inch alloy wheels. It’s priced from Rs 34.99 lakh to Rs 36.99 lakh.

The top-end is M Sport—fitted with M aerodynamic package and 18-inch M light alloy wheels along with M badging on the sides, it showcases the sporting potential of the X1.

The interiors also get the M treatment—with M sports seats and M leather steering. It’s priced Rs 40.99 lakh. Both the xLine and M Sport trims get panorama sunroof and ambient lighting scheme.

Under the hood of the X1 sits a potent 1,995cc four-cylinder diesel engine. Its power delivery and responsiveness is good. On paper, the power output is 190bhp.

The high torque of 400Nm is available at just 1,750-2,500 RPM, which means that in less than a second of fully pressing the accelerator, the X1 will shoot ahead like a cat possessed.

There are two variants—the sDrive (two-wheel-drive) and xDrive (all-wheel-drive with dynamic stability control).

The sDrive accelerates from 0-100kph in 7.8 seconds with a top speed of 222kph. The xDrive goes from 0-100kph in 7.6 seconds with a top speed of 219kph.

The new eight-speed steptronic automatic transmission performs smooth, almost imperceptible gear shifts. At any time and in any gear, the transmission collaborates perfectly with the engine.

In case you primarily drive within city limits, you will love the Servotronic speed-sensitive steering assistance, which allows parking and about-turn manoeuvres to be completed comfortably with little steering effort. However, it doesn’t get a reversing camera, only the sensors. At higher speeds on the highway, you will love the steering precision, which anyway all BMW vehicles are famous for.

It gets six airbags, anti-lock braking system with brake assist, dynamic stability control including dynamic traction control, cornering brake control, hill descent control, side-impact protection, run-flat tyres with reinforced side-walls … finally the X1 gets not only ample safety features, but also the features you generally associate with an SUV.

Fuel-efficiency has been improved, massively. The X1 now travels a distance of 20.68 km to a litre of diesel. The strategy behind improved efficiency is called BMW EfficientDynamics. It comprises of better aerodynamics, 50:50 weight distribution, low centre of gravity, intelligent lightweight construction, automatic start/stop function, economy-driving mode, brake-energy regeneration, electric power steering and more.

The new X1, clearly, is a far better product than the outgoing model—it is bigger, more powerful, more fuel-efficient, and so much more fun to drive. And, at the price, it also enjoys a slight edge over its competitors—Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3—especially the latter. It has won critical acclaim too.

We talked to Hormazd Sorabjee, the editor of Autocar India, and he had this to say about the car: “The new X1 is the best compact luxury SUV today. BMW has addressed all the weaknesses of the older car. It looks like a contemporary SUV and cabin space is class-leading.”

(As of now, the X1 is only available in diesel; the petrol will be launched soon.)

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