2015 X1 New Car Test Drive
Popular in Europe after going on sale four years ago, the BMW X1 subcompact SUV arrived in the U.S. as a 2013 model. Based on the BMW 1 Series hatchback (which is not sold in the U.S.), the X1 is BMW's tiniest SUV, smaller than the X3.
The 2014 BMW X1 lineup offers Harman Kardon Surround Sound as a standalone option. Otherwise, except for a new upholstery color that's available, nothing has changed for the 2014 model year.
From a certain perspective, the BMW X1 makes fiscal sense, because it makes the X Series available to buyers who lust for a BMW crossover but don't feel they can step up to the price of an X3 or X5. The base price gap between X1 and X3 is about $9,000, but the X3 comes standard with all-wheel drive, whereas the base X1 sDrive28i is rear-wheel drive. This isn't as vast an economic chasm as the numbers suggest, however. Adding just a couple of option groups to an X1 can put you well into X3 territory.
Based on the solid architecture that supports the 1 Series sedan (derived from the last-generation 3 Series), the X1 offers about the same interior volume as that 3 Series wagon, even though it's 2.1 inches shorter overall.
BMW X1 dimensions are substantially tidier than those of the X3, making the X1 handier in urban operating conditions; and of course, lighter than its bigger cousin, which pays off at the gas station. Even with all-wheel drive, the BMW X1 xDrive28i weighs about 300 pounds less, and delivers a decisive 5 mpg edge in EPA-estimated highway fuel economy.
Commonality with the 1 Series continues under the X1's hood, with two engine options, both turbocharged. The standard engine employed by the BMW X1 sDrive28i and X1 xDrive28i is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, rated for 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 23/34 mpg City/Highway (22/33 with xDrive). BMW says it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds.
The upgrade is the smooth and potent 3.0-liter twin turbo six-cylinder, used by the BMW X1 xDrive35i and rated at 300 horsepower at 5800 rpm, with 300 pound-feet of torque at 1300-5000 rpm. It's EPA-rated at 18/27 mpg City/Highway. BMW says it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds.
The four-cylinder is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, which includes manual shifting, eco, and auto stop/start modes; the 3.0-liter transmits its power through the older 6-speed automatic.
All-wheel drive uses BMW's thoroughly developed xDrive system, used on the BMW X1 xDrive 28i and BMW X1 xDrive35i. The BMW sDrive28i is rear-wheel drive.
Like the other BMW SUVs, the X1 has no off-road pretensions whatsoever; ground clearance is a sedan-like 7.0 inches. All-wheel drive is conceived here as a traction and stability enhancer for driving on low adhesion surfaces, in inclement weather conditions, or both.
The other element of ongoing BMW appeal is a blend of ride and handling that's become a dynamic benchmark for the rest of the industry. Sharing the 1 Series sedan foundations, the BMW X1 hews true to this ethic. Inevitably, it's not quite as agile as the 3 Series sedan or wagon. Heftier curb weights and a high profile dilute the athletic index slightly. Nevertheless, the X1 has the feel and steering response that distinguish all BMWs, and feels a little more nimble than the X3, as well as small crossovers such as the Acura RDX, Land Rover LR2, and Mercedes GLK.
Like the rest of the package, the inner X1 is well conceived to satisfy BMW intenders, both first-timers and veterans. The seating is sporty and supportive, inner appointments are consistent with the entry luxury category (subdued but high quality), and the array of telematics is competitive.
The 2014 BMW X1 comes with a choice of engines. The X1 sDrive28i and xDrive28i use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 8-speed automatic. The X1 xDrive35i uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder and 6-speed automatic. BMW X1 sDrive28i is rear-wheel drive. BMW X1 xDrive28i and X1 xDrive35i are all-wheel drive and come with Hill Descent Control.
BMW X1 sDrive28i ($30,900) and xDrive28i ($32,600) come standard with automatic start/stop; automatic climate control with micro-filter and air recirculation; leatherette upholstery; Satin Silver Matte interior trim, eight-way manually-adjustable front seats; tilt/telescopic steering wheel column; rain-sensing windshield wipers with automatic headlight control; power front windows with one-touch up/down operation; Vehicle & Key Memory; 180-watt AM/FM/CD audio with MP3, HD Radio, eight speakers, RDS, pre-wiring for satellite radio; three-spoke leather-wrapped multi-function sport steering wheel with controls for audio, cruise control, and Bluetooth; iDrive system; Bluetooth wireless technology for hands-free calling and phonebook downloading capabilities; USB connection; Dynamic Cruise Control; rear-window defroster; BMW TeleService; halogen headlights and foglights; and 17×7.5-inch light alloy wheels with 225/50R17 run-flat all-season tires. Optional MSport package ($3,000) features M Sport 18-inch wheels, sport suspension, sport seats, M steering wheel, M aerodynamic kit, and dark aluminum or wood interior trim. Ultimate Package ($6,150) includes panoramic moonroof, keyless entry, power front seats with memory, rearview camera, and much more. Premium Package ($3,950) features leather upholstery.
BMW X1 xDrive35i ($38,800) upgrades further with eight-way power-adjustable front seats that include manually-adjustable headrests and driver's seat/mirror memory, Light Fineline Wood interior trim, panoramic moonroof with fully automatic two-piece glass panels and power interior sunshade, power rear windows with one-touch down, Adaptive Light Control, xenon adaptive headlights with auto leveling and LED Corona headlight rings, and 18×8-inch light alloy wheels with 225/45R18 run-flat all-season tires. Optional MSport package ($2,500) features M Sport 18-inch wheels, sport suspension, sport seats, M steering wheel, M aerodynamic kit, and dark aluminum or wood interior trim. Ultimate Package ($4,750) and Premium Package ($2,400) also are available.
Options for X1 models: Leather upholstery ($1,450) and leatherette upholstery ($550) are available in special colors. Harman Kardon surround sound ($875) and a panoramic moonroof ($1,250) are among the standalone options. The Technology Package ($2,250) includes a navigation system, voice command, real-time traffic, BMW Online, enhanced USB and Bluetooth, plus Smartphone Integration, BMW Apps, and Remote Services. The Driver Assistance Package ($950) includes a rearview camera and Park Distance Control. BMW's X Line ($1,900) features special 18-inch wheels and exclusive wood trim. Sport Line ($1,900) features unique 18-inch wheels, sport seats, special exterior trim, and aluminum interior trim.
Safety features standard on all X1 models include dual frontal airbags, front-door-mounted side-impact airbags, front safety belts with automatic pretensioners, ALR, BMW Assist eCall with SOS button and Automatic Collision Notification. Active safety features include four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Dynamic Brake Control, Dynamic Stability Control with Brake Drying, Brake Stand-by, Start-off Assistant, and Brake Fade Compensation. All-wheel drive (xDrive) can improve handling stability in slippery conditions. The optional rearview camera can help the driver spot a small child behind the car when backing up.