The updated BMW X1 holds it own in this segment

BMW XI: In a league of its own

BMW has had a relatively quiet year so far — they’ve launched new entry-level variants for the 3 and 5 Series sedans and the X7 SUV — with the updated X1 being the brand’s first major launch of the year. BMW’s entry-level luxury SUV sits in a segment that is set to see some big changes in the coming months; both Mercedes and Audi will bring in new generations of the GLA and Q3, respectively. So, is this just another very typically BMW-esque minor update, or is it something much more?

As seen on other new BMW SUVs, the X1 now gets a larger single-piece kidney grille too, bringing it in line with its bigger brothers. However, unlike the chrome-finished units on its siblings, the painted silver slats on the X1’s grille don’t look as premium and do leave us wanting more bling. Other changes include a new front bumper with repositioned fog lamps (now horizontal LED strips), and redesigned LED headlamps. In profile, the updated X1 looks pretty much the same as before, albeit with a new set of 17-inch wheels on this xLine variant. Meanwhile, changes around the rear are subtle, with mildly updated LED tail lamps, a slightly updated bumper, and slightly larger exhaust tips.

The changes inside are also subtle. The 8.8-inch touchscreen takes centre stage, but though the screen is large on paper, its placement makes it appear smaller than it really is. The system also gets a newer version of the BMW i-Drive interface, which works well; though it’s not the latest version you get on new-generation cars, like the Z4 and 3 Series. Also, while you do get wireless Apple CarPlay, BMW still does not offer Android Auto. Other changes include a new gear lever (which is nicely designed) and configurable interior ambient lighting. There’s also a bit of contrast-coloured, double-stitching on the dashboard that gives it a richer feel, but the X1’s age is starting to show, with materials that just don’t feel quite as rich as in BMW’s newer cars.

What remains unchanged is the sheer amount of space that this SUV packs. Both the front and rear seats are still very spacious, the panoramic glass roof accentuating the feeling of space. The best-in-class boot packs in an impressive 500 litres of space. The space-saver spare sits below the boot floor, without eating into luggage space. To wrap it up, BMW has provided two USB-C charging points for rear passengers, in tune with the times; and in case you don’t have the right adapter yet, there is a regular USB port at the front.

Then, there are the engines — the updated X1, both in its petrol and diesel guise, is now BS-VI compliant. The model we have here is the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel that makes 190hp and 400Nm of torque — figures that are unchanged from the BS-IV-spec model. The new engine meets BS-VI emission norms by adding in a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and selective catalyst reduction (SCR) that uses the AdBlue emission reduction additive, which can be filled via a port next to the fuel filler.

While the output figures suggest no changes, there is a noticeable difference in the way the engine sounds and drives. For starters, it is more refined — both, while at idle, and when being pushed hard — and BMW’s new mapping has also made power delivery much more linear. This has made the X1 easier to drive, especially in traffic; though some are likely to miss the typical punch that these engines were so famous for. However, if you do want that fun (and the relentless turbo torque) you can always toggle the drive mode into ‘Sport’ — shift the gearbox into ‘S’ or use the paddles to go through the 8-speed gearbox.

Moving to performance, the new X1 is quicker than the outgoing model. In our tests, we recorded a 0-100kph time of 7.72sec as against the older car’s 8.07sec. The gap was even greater in kickdown acceleration. It’s also worth noting that the BS-IV car we tested had AWD, while this new BS-VI car is a front-wheel drive. Speaking of all-wheel drive, BMW will not be offering that on the X1 any more, even on the top-spec M Sport trim.

The X1 facelift is also a little more comfortable. Now, while that might be attributed to the car’s 225/55 R17 tyres, there is most certainly an added suppleness to the suspension setup. Bump absorption is better than before; though the X1 still has an underlying sense of the typical BMW firmness, it’s now a lot more forgiving on bad roads while maintaining high-speed composure.

With these updates, BMW seems to have aimed their entry-level luxury SUV towards a more varied target audience. Gone are the days when a Bimmer would be as stiff as nails and the epitome of driving pleasure. Instead, it’s replaced by products that are extremely well-sorted all-rounders; and the X1 is just that. It looks good, has great road manners, is well-equipped and spacious. The model we tested costs ₹39.90 lakh (ex-showroom, India) and prices on the whole are about ₹40,000-60,000 more than the outgoing car, depending on the variant. This is not bad at all, considering the updates and revised engines, and while there’s no top-spec AWD model any more, there is now a new base SportX model that brings the entry price down to ₹35.90 lakh against the previous model’s ₹38.30 lakh.

Since there’s no BMW hatchback on offer any more, and the 2 Series Gran Coupe is not due for launch until later in the year, this updated X1 makes for a strong entry point to the brand. Moreover, the Volvo XC40 has been reduced to a single petrol variant, and as Audi and Mercedes-Benz have exhausted their stocks of the current-generation Q3 and GLA, (and there’s a long wait before the new ones come along) at the moment, BMW has this segment pretty much all to itself.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 4:21:07 PM |

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