The second generation X1 opened a new chapter in the BMW’s history. The smallest SUV the Bavarians offer is based on a new platform, called UKL (comes from Under Class in German) with transversely mounted 4-cylinder engine and shared with the Mini Countryman, BMW Group’s sister brand.
Sharing platforms accross the models and brands within the same group is almost a must to save on engineering and production costs and enable at least some flexibility in production. Remembering also that the X1 and the Countryman are two completely different looking vehicles, this strategy worked well.
Exterior and Interior
It is hard to believe the second generation is already 7 years old, while the exterior and interior still look fresh. The X1 is the most affordable SUV in BMW’s model lineup, but keeps BMW design characteristics both outside and inside.
Our tester has the M Sport package, which comes with M specific front and rear bumper, and 19″ M Sport wheels and it is an $2250 extra. We are not sure this is really necessary for a utility vehicle, as comfort and practicality should be the priority especially for an SUV which doesn’t have much power.
Sitting behind the steering wheel, you see that there are lots of common parts used in other BMWs, a mixture of common brand identity and cost cutting. Well, eventually, this is a “budget SUV” even if up to the BMW quality standards. You see less soft touch plastics compared to “higher-class” BMWs, but the Germans kept the distance to non-premium alternatives in this segment.
Our tester with the M package comes with a sporty steering wheel, seats with more aggressive side bolstering, and light gray-white aluminum trim all over the dashboard. M seats are not the most comfortable for long rides as we found that side bolsters are too aggressive for a utility vehicle that produces less than 250 horsepower. It would be a wiser choice to skip the M package completely as you would be saving a couple thousand dollars and regular seats would likely provide a more comfortable driving experience.
Another selling point for utility vehicles is the rear seat legroom and cargo space. Unfortunately this is not the strongest point for the X1, as you won’t be able to sit behind if you are taller than 5’9″. Sport M seats have thicker profile thus leaving less legroom in the rear. However, it still has sufficient overall legroom if you are an average sized family, or if you have smaller kids.
Engine & Drivetrain
At the end of the day, this should be an “Ultimate Driving Machine”, shouldn’t it? Well, things are not same as it used to be. Second generation X1 changed it’s engine layout which is transverse, that means it is a Front Wheel Drive based vehicle.
Even though you get an All Wheel Drive version, which is standard in Canada, this still doesn’t change the fact that it always sends the power to the front first, so you will be getting understeering unless you give less throttle input when you are on the limit. That doesn’t mean you cannot go sideways on slippery surfaces like a rear wheel drive car, you just need to be more patient.
The 2020 X1 28i only comes with only one engine option and transmission. The 4-cylinder 2.0L turbocharged engine (which is available accross the model ranges) delivers 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This power and torque curve is adequate for your daily drive with a compact SUV, but you should not expect a fast car. The engine is tuned for more torque in the mid range, and it is very usable power for regular driving.
Like most other BMWs, the X1 comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission. It works perfectly almost all other BMWs and X1 is not an exception. This transmission mated to the 2.0L turbo engine offers great fuel economy. We were able to get around 9.5L / 100 km in our test, which is very close to the “official” measurement figures.
Driving Impressions & Features
Usually, if we are talking about a BMW, there are lots of features but you need to pay the premium to have all of those. In our tester, we were missing some crucial ones. For instance, there was no blind spot monitoring, brake hold assist, adaptive cruise control, wireless charging. Those features are available in non-premium brands within $25-30,000 range. In 2020, blind spot must be available in a premium brand that has over $50,000 price range, let alone adaptive cruise control.
Also a Premium Package is available that comes with heated steering wheel, power folding side mirrors, automatic trunk, comfort access, aluminum roof rails, panorama sunroof, auto dimming mirrors, sport seats, lumbar support, LED headlights with cornering function, park assistant, head-up display, and navigation which costs $5950.
On the road, the driving position felt more SUV-like to the X3 and X5 and that is very interesting. As this is a smaller SUV, we were expecting to feel more car-like driving dynamics however that was not the case. Steering feeling was numb, and we noted a delay with the throttle response especially in Comfort mode. Our tester with the M Sport Package, comes with stiffer suspension and bigger rims, leading to relatively less comfort. However, we must admit, suspension tune is excellent but on the stiffer side. If it was our car, we would definitely opt out the M package, as it is just for looks, and the priority should be comfort and practicality rather than how it looks.
Pricing & Conclusion
The X1 28i is the most affordable BMW though with some flaws. Despite its premium pricing point, you definitely feel that it is an entry level model, even if still a BMW. Some important features, that come standard even with compact hatchback cars, are missing. As long as you are okay with those, you will be getting a premium car with great driving dynamics, and the BMW quality.
The X1 28i xDrive starts at $42,100 and goes north of $50,000 range. Our tester had a sticker price of $52,645 which had the Premium Package Enhanced, M Sport Package, and stand alone options like Dakota Leather and fancy metallic paint.
For more detailed and the most up-to-date information, please visit http://www.bmw.ca
Article and Photos by Dan Gunay