2016 BMW X1 xDrive 20d Review

Posted on Mon ,12 Dec 2016 6:12 pm
Vaibhav Yedavi
Rating by CG: 
    
2016 BMW X1 xDrive 20d Review

Does the new X1 with a transversely mounted engine retain the BMW DNA? We find out.

 

The first generation X1 launched in 2009 looked like a small estate on stilts, it had a claustrophobia inducing interior, and a ride quality which necessitated having the chiropractor’s number on the emergency dial list. BMW purists hated it; but much to their chagrin the quirky X1 was a sales success with more than 700,000 units sold worldwide during its nearly half-a-decade plus production run.

 

To make the second generation X1 appeal to an even larger audience, BMW had to iron out a lot of quirks of the first-gen model. The exterior design and the suspension setup was a doddle, but to find more interior space in a compact exterior package was a challenge, which BMW chose to triumph over with an ‘unusual for the brand’ transversely mounted engine.

 

So has adopting a transverse engine layout with a predominantly front-wheel drive setup (same UKL platform as the Mini range) stripped the new X1 of its BMW DNA? We find out.

 

 

Exterior & Interior

Gone is the “small estate on stilts” styling of the older X1 with the new model looking like a shrunken X5. Even with a not-so-long bonnet, BMW has cleverly avoided the cab-forward stance typical of front-wheel drive vehicles. The sculpted body panels and the dark plastic cladding on the wheel arches and lower body makes the new X1 blend in easily with the rest of the BMW X family. The new X1 though doesn’t follow the ‘connected look’ for the headlamps and the kidney grille, which the entire BMW range is moving towards.

 

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 20d Front Quarter

 

All India spec X1 variants get full LED lamps all around, 18-inch alloy wheels (17-inch on the base variant), dark plastic cladding on the lower body and wheel arches (body coloured on the M-Sport variant), and twin-exhaust tail-pipes finished in chrome as standard.

 

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 20d Rear Quarter

 

Our test X1 painted in a bold metallic ‘Chestnut Bronze’ exterior shade and fitted with Y-spoke alloy wheels attracted quite a few eyeballs for sure.

 

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 20d Rear Seat Layout

 

Despite being 33mm shorter in length and having a 90mm smaller wheelbase compared to the first-gen model, the interior space in the new X1 will amaze you. Being 53mm taller and 23mm wider than the previous-gen model helps for sure, but the trick to the spacious inside is BMW’s adoption of a transverse engine layout, freeing up lots of cabin space which has translated directly to bucket-loads of legroom at the rear. The larger windows and the panoramic roof also add to the airy cabin quotient. While the driver and passenger seats can be electrically adjusted to find the most comfortable position, even the rear seats on the new X1 get limited manual adjustment. They can be moved 130mm fore-and-aft on the 60:40 split rails and also the backrest can be reclined by a few degrees. The boot space is now 505-litres which can be further increased to 1,550-litres with the rear seats folded down. The space is actually useful as the space-saver tyre doesn’t occupy the boot, but has its own dedicated cavity under the boot floor.

 

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 20d Boot Space

 

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 20d Dashboard

 

The driver focussed dashboard layout, the new switchgear, the 6.5-inch infotainment screen (8.8-inch unit on the M-Sport), are elements which will be familiar to any BMW driver. Oh, the only non-BMW like element is the plain looking gear-shift lever. As with any BMW the ergonomics are spot on, but the interior materials in the new X1 don’t feel premium enough to justify the BMW brand, with the rivals Mercedes GLA and Audi Q3 taking top marks in this department.

 

 

Does the new X1 drive like a BMW should?

The X1 gets the same 2.0-litre, inline-4 twin-turbo diesel engine which can be found under the bonnet of the X3, 5-series and the updated 3-series; with the difference being that in the new X1 the engine is housed in the transverse (east-west) direction and primarily powers the front wheels as opposed to the longitudinal (north-south) rear-wheel drive setup found in the other models. This is very un-BMW like, but the X1 is not the first BMW to sport this setup, with the 2-series Active Tourer MPV taking the honour (it has not made it to the Indian shores yet).

 

The variant we tested was the xDrive all-wheel drive one, but the setup primarily powers the front wheels and sends power to the rear wheels only when it detects slip. During our test we could hardly sense the system engaging as the X1 has great body control and loads of mechanical grip to get around corners; the primary reason being a 50:50 front-rear weight distribution (we don’t know how BMW has managed to achieve it on a FWD vehicle). Yes the X1 is the most agile compact SUV on the market today, but if you are looking for a dynamically fun high riding BMW then you have to look a segment higher at the X3. If you don’t want the AWD hardware there is the FWD only sDrive variants, which we think will be as good as the xDrive variant for everyday driving. We haven't driven the sDrive variant yet so will keep the judgement for another day.

 

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 20d Engine Bay

 

The 2.0-litre engine produces 188bhp @ 4,000rpm and 400Nm of torque between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm. It is coupled to an 8-speed automatic gearbox which sends power to the front wheels (sDrive FWD) or to all the four wheels (xDrive AWD). Since this is a new layout, the gearbox is not the usual ZF unit found in other BMWs, but an Aisin unit. It is smooth in operation and quick at downshifts, but little slow at upshifts. The engine is very frugal though if driven calmly with in-city figures hovering around 10km/l and an overall figure (highway + city) hovering around the 15km/l mark.

 

 

Is it comfortable?

The new X1 though stiffly sprung is nowhere as rigid as the old model. On smooth roads and at city speeds the suspension absorbs everything yet will keep you updated on the surface topology with solidness to the movement, but rough roads at moderate to high speeds transmit every imperfection to the steering wheel and to the cabin if they are big enough, with concrete expansion joints being the most annoying to the passengers. You have to compromise somewhere if you want a taut handling around the corners.

 

On undulating roads at high speeds the X1 does tend to float around a bit, a very un-BMW like feeling. Overall the ride is a way lot better than the older model and the passengers will stay in comfort for most part of the journey. The chiropractor’s number is not needed any more. The Audi Q3 is still the best riding member of the premium compact SUV brigade we must say with the little X1 coming a close second.

 

2016 BMW X1 xDrive 20d

 

The X1 is a bit cumbersome to drive at crawling speeds or during parking, as the brakes are very grabby and make the job of manoeuvring in those situations very jerky.

 

The little X1 is also not the best insulated against the outer elements with the run-flat tyre noise and wind noise filtering into the cabin during the highway runs.

 

 

Conclusion

The new X1 is a vastly improved product compared to its predecessor and despite the transverse FWD bias layout is still agile around the corners like a BMW should be. Sure the cabin is not as well insulated and the suspension can feel a bit stiff compared to the competition, but the BMW makes up in seat comfort, space and equipment on board. Also at INR 47.02 lakhs (on-road, Mumbai) for the AWD xDrive 20d xLine variant, it is a few lakhs cheaper than the equivalent model Mercedes GLA and about the same as an Audi Q3, thus making it a good value for money.

 

 

BMW X1 xDrive 20d xLine Technical Specifications:

Engine – 2.0-litre, inline-4, twin-turbo diesel; 188bhp/400Nm

Speed – 0-100 km/h in 7.6 seconds, top speed 219 km/h

Transmission – 8-speed Aisin with paddle shifters

Drivetrain layout – Transversely mounted front-engine AWD (all-wheel drive)

Mileage – 15km/l

Dimensions - 4439 x 1821 x 1612 (length x width x height in mm)

Wheelbase – 2670mm

Weight – 1550kg

Boot Space – 505-litres (1,550-litres with rear seats down)

Wheels & Tyres – 225/50 R18

Price – INR 47.02 lakhs (approximately) on-road in Mumbai for the xDrive 20d xLine variant

 

 

 

Words by Vaibhav Yedavi

Photos by Anuj Malandkar & Amith Bhagwan

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