Review: BMW X1

WITH Audi’s Q3 premium compact and smart, affordable crossover alternatives such as Kia’s Sportage, Mitsubishi’s Outlander and Subaru’s XV stealing customers, BMW is fighting back with a wide-ranging mid-life upgrade of its X1.

This embraces styling changes inside and out, a revised choice of petrol and diesel engines, optional eight-speed auto and fuel-saving measures including brake-energy regeneration, auto start-stop and an Eco mode.

In fact, the base X1 sDrive18d, with 105kW and 320Nm, returns an amazing combined 4.9L/100km.

The rear-drive X1 sDrive versions come with diesel or petrol engines, as does the all-wheel-drive xDrive with its so-called intelligent system, which varies the power transferred to front and rear wheels as required.

Whether diesel or petrol, the engines are all turbocharged 2.0-litre fours of different outputs giving accelerative performance ranging from adequate (the diesels) to lively (the petrol).

Even the base X1, the $44,900 rear-drive sDrive 18d, gets six airbags, on-board computer, 17in alloys, radar cruise control with auto-braking, rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, auxiliary and USB input and Bluetooth.

Its 420-litre cargo area isn’t huge but the X1’s versatility boosts its family appeal. It has a 40/20/40 split rear backrest, and with rear seats down 1350L is on offer.

While the forecast best seller of the revised X1 range is the new entry-level petrol model, the $46,900 sDrive20i, we’re highlighting the new flagship xDrive 28i version here. It’s the hero X1 – the fastest, best equipped and most expensive.

Using the same 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbo-petrol from the Z4 and 328i, the xDrive28i pushes out 180kW and 350Nm, numbers to scare a couple of prominent hot hatches. Claimed 0-100km/h is 6.1sec yet it uses a frugal 7.8L/100km.

The X1’s steering, which polarised people into two camps – one liked the firm weighting, and the other thought it too heavy – now offers a choice of electromechanical power assistance on the rear-drives, and the hydraulic type on the AWD X1s. Both offer agreeable road feel. 

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