BMW X1 sDrive20i: Small, yet steady

The old BMW X1 was known to be a hot favourite for young couples who want that SUV experience, but yet find the X3 or X5 a bit too big for comfort.

We didn’t really find the old X1 very appealing, though we have to admit that it did make a good size for someone who just started working and is looking for a first car.

Now, BMW has re-engineered this compact SUV to boost its appeal, enhancing its looks, as well as gave it tweaks to its plant under the hood. And that, we found, made it more appealing than ever.

Exterior 

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The new X1 boasts a more aggressive and “ready-to-pounce” stance, and looks deceptively similar to its bigger X3 brother. BMW has incorporated its signature LED daytime running lights onto the X1, and revised its front grille and façade to compliment the overall profile of the car.

From the side, you honestly wouldn’t believe that this car stands at the entry-level of the Bavarian marque’s X-range. Sitting on 18” rims, the X1 stands slightly short of 1.6 metres, providing a comfortable height for passengers to slip in and out of the cabin.

Interior

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When we say that BMW needs to improve on its interior design, we meant for it to apply across the entire family range. The X1 is no different. Open the doors and you’ll be greeted by the all-so-traditional BMW centre console and controls.

But a dated design doesn’t necessarily mean that you lose out on quality. BMW offers top notch luxury leather stitches and finishing across its consoles – you will have none of the creaks and flimsy panels that might irritate you a couple of years down the road.

Compared to its competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and the Audi Q3, we thought that the X1 felt a little bit more spacious. The rear accommodates three adults comfortably (we couldn’t say the same for the GLA-Class though), and you could even squeeze in a fourth if you really needed to.

And of course, the perks of driving an SUV would mean the availability of a larger boot for your barang-barangs. The X1 offers up to 1,550 litres of storage with its rear seats folded down.

The Drive

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With a new engine under its hood, we were really curious as to how the car would perform. And surprisingly (or impressively), it didn’t disappoint.

The X1 now houses a 2-litre twin-scroll turbocharged plant putting out 189 horses and 280 Nm of torque. In layman’s terms, that should get you to the 100 km/h mark in 7.7 seconds on paper, although we managed to clock 8.3.

You’d also be surprised at the seamless changes in gears the X1 offers, no matter how hard you push the pedal. What’s more impressive is that the X1 no longer uses the traditional ZF transmission, but rather, a new 8-speed system by Aisin.

The front-wheel drive may put some petrol-heads off (especially those who strongly believe in rear-wheel drive adrenaline rushes), but the X1 proved itself rather well in tight corners and bends. There’s minimal body roll for a car its size, and it compensates relatively well in terms of power distribution to ensure that you don’t suffer from understeering because of its FWD system.

Conclusion

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We must admit that the X1 proved to be one of the better choices for the driver who wants a small(er) but yet spacious SUV. It’s relatively easy to handle (all BMWs are), looks good, and is more importantly, priced rather competitively against its rivals.

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