Vital Stats

Engine:
Twin-Turbo 3.0L I6
Power:
302 HP / 295 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
5.3 Seconds
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,891 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
14.8 / 47.7 CU-FT
MPG:
NA
We Finally Get It. Was It Worth The Wait?



The X1 is BMW's ultimate compromise machine in the car-as-truck-as-SUV-as-wagon-as-city-vehicle category. It's aimed at undecideds who want a BMW that's attractive and can carry stuff while sitting high up, but not too high up. Being able to park it easily, even in downtown New York, is good too, as are the fuel and emissions efficiencies. The X1 has been a huge success elsewhere, and we ourselves thought it was a pretty good idea when we drove one last year.

Since shipments began worldwide from BMW's factory in Leipzig, Germany, the X1 has quietly sold over 300,000 units, almost all of those in Europe. For a small sport activity vehicle that costs a BMW-style premium, that really is a huge number of units. BMW is pretty accustomed to this sort of success with its Sports Activity Vehicles, as it likes calling them. When it started out in late 2003 and was the only small premium crossover vehicle out there, the original BMW X3 sold nearly 250,000 units through 2007, and the general public didn't seem to notice.

But other premium automakers did, and now everyone offers a small SUV or crossover. Either that or they're stupid because they don't. When we first drove the X1, we immediately understood what BMW was saying about its big plans for this trucklette. The X1 (no matter what you personally feel about its smallness) has nearly perfect proportions, the design details are solid overall, and it frankly makes a much better original X3 than the actual X3 did back at the end of 2003. And just ahead of the X1's imminent arrival on our own shores, this smallest of BMW activity vehicles has received its first mid-life update.
2013 BMW X1 side view2013 BMW X1 front 3/4 view2013 BMW X1 rear 3/4 view

This thundering xDrive35i delivers 302 hp and 295 lb-ft while accelerating to 60 in 5.3 seconds.

As a sign of the X1's wild popularity, BMW will soon start building the X1 in China in addition to selling Leipzig-built units in North America by October of this year. In Europe, there's a range of eleven model choices now. The seven diesel models – from an sDrive16d designation up to an xDrive25d – start at 114 horsepower and go up to 215 horsepower, and rate torque at between 192 pound-feet and 332 lb-ft. Meanwhile the four current gas models for the EU are the sDrive18i, sDrive20i, xDrive20i, and xDrive28i. These latter range between 148 hp and 241 hp, and between 148 and 258 lb-ft.

Of the models sold in Europe, the United States will be getting only the xDrive 28i. Fortunately, that's not the only model we'll be getting at our launch, however. The North American rollout in October will also include a rear-wheel-drive sDrive28i model, as well as this thundering xDrive35i delivering 302 hp and 295 lb-ft while accelerating to 60 miles per hour in an estimated 5.3 seconds. Can we hear a holy moly of built-up expectations!

2013 BMW X1 headlights2013 BMW X1 wheel2013 BMW X1 badge2013 BMW X1 taillight

Not only are there all of these engine/drivetrain variants possible depending on the market, but you can also choose (yes, even in America) between the basic trim level X1, or add one of three available optional trims: xLine ($1,900), Sport Line ($1,900) and M Sport Line ($2,500 for 35i, $3,000 for either 28i). And don't get us started on the massive array of individual options possible. Pricing set (destination charges included) for the three X1 models coming to the U.S. are $31,545 for the base sDrive28i, $33,245 for the xDrive28i and $39,345 for the xDrive35i.

The X1s for the U.S. spit on manual transmissions, getting only auto 'boxes.

Every X1 trim on the menu in Europe comes available with a six-speed manual shifter standard and clutch pedal thrown in at no extra charge. The X1s for the U.S. spit on manual transmissions, getting only auto 'boxes.

We're familiar with the engine in the 28i models; the great N20 TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder and eight-speed automatic tranny – with 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque – will account for the lion's share of X1 sales in the U.S. But we had to spend as much time as possible with the U.S.-only 35i, in this case in Sport Line trim. Would it be a repeat of our feelings towards the 3 Series lineup where we consistently prefer the 28i versus the 35i?

2013 BMW X1 engine

Cargo space is decent at between 14.8 and 47.7 cubic feet, but it's the flexibility that steals the show.

Immediately upon sitting in the red leathery cockpit (a $1,450 option), we noticed that BMW had substantially upgraded the atmosphere inside the X1 over the launch model. Everything has been touched up, made to feel more premium, and frankly more BMW as we expect. The Sport Line trim includes several gloss black and matte black touches to the exterior, 18-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli Cinturato P7 run-flat tires at 225/45 R18 91Y m+s, a special red-stitched three-spoke leather steering wheel and "BMW Sport" details in the door sills. In addition, the center console is restyled for simplicity and angled more toward the driver.

Interior room for four adults is just fine and the upmarket eight-way adjustable sport seats are one of the best things on the X1 in this trim. Cargo space is decent at between 14.8 and 47.7 cubic feet, but it's the flexibility of the cargo area and the 40:20:40 rear seat backs that steals the show. Space underneath the rear floor is also quite usable and keeps things from flying around back there. Also standard on the 35i is a full-length moonroof with two-pane retractable setup that we indulged in during our German visit.

2013 BMW X1 interior2013 BMW X1 front seats2013 BMW X1 rear seats2013 BMW X1 rear cargo area

Further touches outside include slightly more accentuated aero body touches, such as the side skirts, plus new LED fringe lamps in the headlight units, while Xenon headlights are standard on the 35i. The most effective change of all on the exterior, though, is the smaller border of plastic scuff material all around the lower part of the car. The change really adds class to the X1 look, plus the fact that this smaller scuff line is now painted body color.

That there is a six-speed automatic transmission on the 35i trim is completely confusing.

As for this xDrive model with 35i performance, automatic six-speed and 18-inch wheel/tire setup, the 3,891-pound performer did alright for itself. In this particular configuration, the X1 is a strong vehicle and we soon found a groove over the Bavarian two-lanes. In fact, this particular X1 feels a lot like the finest 3 Series saloon as it cruises down the road. Steering here remains hydraulic and feels perfectly at home in this trim – and it didn't hurt that the Bavarian countryside is beautiful and we were just in a smooth carving mood.

That there is a six-speed automatic transmission on the 35i trim is completely confusing, however. All other 35i trims from BMW get the eight-speed Steptronic, even the new M135i from M Performance, which will also have an xDrive version later on, so there are no physical excuses why we could not have had the eight-speed in our X1 xDrive35i. The veritable chasm between the first and second gear ratios on this old six-speed – 4.71 then 2.34 – helps create lagging moments that the eight-speed would fairly cure.

Autoblog Short Cuts: 2013 BMW X1 XDrive35i

Also standard is a stand-alone Eco Pro mode button that's typically included in BMW's Driving Dynamics Control suite. But DDC with its Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ modes isn't an option in any trim on the X1. This lack of features at this level – i.e. xDrive35i – sticks out for us. Put it all together and we start leaning toward either of the 28i models versus this particular 35i built exclusively for North America.

Put it all together and we start leaning toward either of the 28i models versus 35i.

It is with both Eco Pro mode and the standard start-stop function activated where the X1 achieves optimal fuel efficiency and lowest emissions. EPA figures aren't available yet, but BMW promises at least a 10-percent improvement in these figures.

Frequently finding ourselves in inclement weather, we would definitely go for the 187-pound-heavier xDrive setup no matter the engine. The temptation is strong to get the costlier M Sport Line trim package that lowers the X1 chassis, gives it a more rigid suspension, and ups the thresholds of the Dynamic Stability Control suite of drive tools. In fact, another new feature is called Performance Control that works via the DSC. In this setup, the default torque split between front and rear axles during steady state cornering becomes 20-percent front and 80-percent rear. A type of torque vectoring also occurs, braking the inner rear wheel and giving light throttle to the outer to better get through the curves.

2013 BMW X1 rear 3/4 view

That our xDrive35i Sport did not have the optional sport steering wheel with shift paddles was just another omission to wonder about. With the default suspension setup of the X1, too, the run-flat tires felt a little, well, flat.

At the end of the day, we still have warm and good feelings toward the X1.

At the end of the day, we still have warm and good feelings toward the X1. But our thrill and excitement over this xDrive35i trim with all of its potential finished the day a bit of an over-puffed question mark. Either chassis (sDrive or xDrive) of the 28i trim with the eight-speed and sport steering wheel would be a better choice and cost pleasantly less.

Or we could just go and buy a 335i Sports Wagon with all of the things we need, with or without xDrive. The X1 xDrive35i is that odd of a duck.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 77 Comments
      wat
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Of the models sold in Europe, the United States will be getting only the xDrive 28i. Fortunately, that's not the only model we'll be getting." You make my head hurt. Please, Autoblog, just read your own posts at least once.
      bonehead
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wow who decided that a shiny black under carriage was a good idea. That will always look dirty even immediately after you wash the car. Strange decision
        Quyen
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bonehead
        It's carbon fiber. It's only shiny when light hits it from certain angles.
          bonehead
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Quyen
          actually i looked at the large images and its not even cardon fiber. Its just black chrome plastic.
          bonehead
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Quyen
          and if its not covered in any dirt. You will wash your car and upon driving off it will get covered in tire splatters. dumb.
        Keldon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @bonehead
        Totally agree. I'm also tired of the black plastic trims on the bottoms of a lot of cars today, it just gets all discolored and scratched up and requires constant conditioning to keep it looking good.
          BG
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Keldon
          Constant conditioning? Who, where ?
      Vinuuz
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wonder why BMW priced it lower than the 3 series on which it is based, given that this is the more practical and versatile choice when you consider cargo area and wading through rough terrain or snow etc.
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Vinuuz
        These things are going to wade through tough terrain and snow??
      CarCrazy24
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think you guys tested the wrong car...the 28xdrive model would have been the volume car to check out. I'm excited to see how that car manages decent power with 30mpg highway. Hopefully it drives more like the older 3 series cars than the current one. It's well priced too, it should sell like crazy here in the States.
      carguy1701
      • 2 Years Ago
      " The veritable chasm between the first and second gear ratios on this old six-speed – 4.71 then 2.34..." 4.71 is the first gear on the 8-speed. The ZF 6-speed auto used in this vehicle has a first gear ratio of 4.17. As for the lack of manuals for North America, the only crossover (premium or otherwise) that offers a stick is the Mazda CX-5, and Mazda clearly doesn't expect to sell too many stickshift examples of that model, otherwise it'd be available across the board, so BMW clearly didn't see the need for sticks in North American-spec X1s.
      RocinanteBrewin
      • 2 Years Ago
      I had an opportunity to road test both the X1 sDrive28 and an xDrive35 on Saturday, and then to autocross the xDrive28 and xDrive35 back-to-back on Sunday. In both environments, the '28 simply worked better. On the road, the '35 definitely felt heavier and the 6-speed simply felt clunky; on the autocross track is was even more out of place. On the road, the '28 has more-than-adequate acceleration, and with the slick 8-speed, was quickly in the powerband. Note, though, that the 28 has plenty of torque down low, so that you aren't compelled to drop gears to get through/past normal traffic. With the '28 being more efficient, having very similar performance (better dynamically, but slower in a drag race) and costing less than the '35, the '35 does end up seeming like an odd duck, but one that will sell to BMW folks who don't accept the notion of a 4-cyl BMW.
        rp401k
        • 1 Year Ago
        @RocinanteBrewin
        I have had the XDrive 28 for about a month. It was a replacement for a 135i. We are soon to be empty nesters and wanted a 4 door car as our kids will be taking the existing 4 door cars with them. I was using a 14 year old Plymouth minivan for hauling and carrying my canoe, kayak, and bikes. The X1 is just big enough for the job with a suitable roof rack. Today I folded the seats and was able to carry 2- 2X4X8's from Home Depot without them touching the dashboard. While it doesn't have the relentless performance and edginess of the 135i, it still drives like a BMW and is quick enough. The gas mileage enhancing technology is kind of neat. I opted for the 4 cylinder versus the 6 because of price, gas mileage, great 8 speed transmission only available with the 4, rare opportunities to use the full power of the turbo 6 in the 135i, and the fuel pump and injector problems with the turbo 6 left with with a bit of a sour taste.
      Mpowered
      • 2 Years Ago
      oh god. its so ugly.
      desinerd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think BMW has hit a jackpot here. It's designed for people who don't really care about cars, but want a status symbol. Instead of going for a 5 series or X3/X5, they can now purchase this and save money. And since this is a rebadged Mini Cooper, BMW didn't have to spend any money on R&D either. It's a win-win for everyone.
        aatbloke1967
        • 2 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        Only a narrow-minded and superficial individual would regard BMW as a "status symbol." I've always been a huge BMW fan, because I like the manner in which they are ridiculously overengineered and how excellent they are to drive. That's it - I couldn't give a toss what anyone else thinks nor could I give a toss what anyone else drives.
          aatbloke1967
          • 2 Years Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          "So.......70% of the population?" If you're in the USA, probably ... but then again, there isn't a more superficial country on the face of the earth. In the UK, BMWs became hugely popular in the 1980s with the 28 and e30 models in particular, and have been ever since. They're not status symbols; they're desirable, well-built, and wonderful-to-drive motor cars.
          axiomatik
          • 2 Years Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          "Only a narrow-minded and superficial individual would regard BMW as a "status symbol."" So.......70% of the population?
        th0mb0ne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        What status does BMW really project these days though? They are as common as a Camry, and any joe-bloe with decent credit can drive one. This isn't the 90s anymore when they still had a little bit of panache.
        rem
        • 2 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        Rebaged Mini? The NEXT gen X1 is supposed to share underpinnings with the Countryman, but THIS generation is based on the E9x platform, if I'm not mistaken.
          desinerd1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @rem
          ok, so it's a rebadged E9x. Still, no R&D needed Apparently using the same platform in two different models is a bad thing. I read a lot of whining comments about Lexus ES sharing platform with Camry.
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        Rebadged Mini cooper? What the eff are you smoking?
      kyle
      • 2 Years Ago
      what is it with BMW and not being able to design a rear end worth a sh!t??? first the bangle butt, then the X6, 5 series GT, now this? the hell? also, why anyone would want this in rear-wheel drive is beyond me, i thought all the "X" SUV's were all wheel drive only? oh and why the hell are they foregoing the manual transmission even in the 35i? if it came with a manual, i'd overlook the rear end and maybe consider the 35i as a good all weather vehicle since my mazda 3 is FWD. especially since the next X1 is rumored to be a FWD mini countryman twin under the skin. but no manual=deal breaker for me.
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @kyle
        What is wrong with rear wheel drive?
        action3500
        • 2 Years Ago
        @kyle
        A lot of reasons for RWD. Maybe I just want higher clearance, but fun of RWD vehicle, save few thousand dollars by omitting AWD and save some weight in process too.
        Quyen
        • 2 Years Ago
        @kyle
        I like their rear ends now. Much cleaner and "German" than the complicated bangle butts.
      rockcandyme
      • 2 Years Ago
      UUGH Another ugly suv from BMW. I know people will rave how nice it is, but really? It will look old and out dated in 2 years like all new BMW's.
        Goahead
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rockcandyme
        Agreed. Looks definitely outdated. Just like the 1 series. Very unattractive. Rims are nice though. BMW makes one of the most Vanilla flavored interiors. It's so plain. And it starts at $40K??? I do love their new 6 series that's coming out. Now that's a good looking car. I will stick with my Infiniti EX35 Crossover.
      Keldon
      • 2 Years Ago
      Absolutely love it. Congrats BMW, this will be a huge hit here in America.
      dnnysprt
      • 2 Years Ago
      fugly to max
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