Small Luxury Makes A Big Statement
You could say that BMW was one of the front liners of the luxury SUV segment that blossomed in the late ’90s. The midsize BMW X5 was the brand’s first crossover SUV, or SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) in their marketing terms, and from that point on, their SUVs eventually became a hit to consumers. From having a single SUV in their line-up, the German brand now has seven, from the X1 all the way to the X7. Automobile sales growth has mainly been driven by small SUVs, and this is where the BMW X1 comes in. Now in its second generation, the BMW X1 fully embraces its rugged character. Whereas its predecessor was more of a raised wagon, the current X1 looks more like a proper SUV now, and that’s where things start to get interesting.
Unlike its competitors, the BMW X1 doesn’t look small nor does it literally look like a raised hatchback. It carries all the right elements that make it more like an SUV Up front, the signature kidney grille stands bold and proud, while the LED headlights with the brand’s signature LED daytime running light design give the X1 a purposeful look. A character line runs from the headlights all the way to the taillights, blending nicely with the door handles. This has long been a BMW design trait, along with a different interpretation of the Hofmeister kink meant for BMW’s SUVs. At the back, the LED taillights feature a cluster design that strays away from the usual L-shaped affair. Overall, the BMW X1’s design looks understated with just the right amount of bling to give it a lot of character. In short, it’s unmistakably a BMW on all angles. Not too flashy and not too boring either.
Inside, the BMW X1’s interior is extremely well built. Plush soft-touch materials extend all the way to the bottom of the dashboard and doors. Speaking of the doors, they give a tank-like solid thud. While the materials and the build quality are excellent, the interior execution is starting to feel dated and nondescript at this point.
Nevertheless, the X1 still impresses with its practicality and space. Among its competitors, the BMW X1 is one of the roomiest and most practical. There’s plenty of storage areas, plus the second row of seats even have excellent space for adults. Up front, a high range of adjustments for the electronically adjustable driver and front passenger seats means that it’s easy to find a comfortable position for a wide range of body types, plus the front seats have an extendable seat base that’s handy for people with long legs.
Likewise, trunk space is one of the biggest in its class, providing a flat loading area especially when the rear seats are folded. There are plenty of hooks lying around to stop groceries from rolling over, plus the rear seats can easily be folded flat with a simple pull of the levers. As expected, a power liftgate is standard.
As ever, the BMW X1’s iDrive infotainment system is top-notch. It’s one of my most favorite infotainment systems to use regardless of price and segment. Menus are clearly laid out and the graphics are top-notch. Bummer that it does not have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the system is so well designed that I didn’t mind the unavailability of these features during the entire lend out period.
Under the hood of the BMW X1 xDrive20d xLine is the brand’s tried and tested 2.0-liter inline-4 turbo diesel engine, producing 190 hp at 4,000 rpm and 400 Nm of torque at 1,750-3,000 rpm. Power is sent through all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Hardcore BMW enthusiasts were shocked to find out that the new X1 is now utilizing a front-wheel-drive (FWD) platform shared with the Mini Countryman, but does it really matter on the open road? The answer is a solid no. The BMW X1 is a solid performer, with steering that’s telepathically sharp whilst offering plenty of feedback letting you know what’s happening to the front wheels. Plus, the handling is extremely well-tuned, too. Body roll is kept flat as it enters and exits through corners, yet while the resulting ride is firm, it’s nothing too jarring for its occupants. Sealing the deal are its brakes and powertrain. The brakes are very sharp, though at low speed they can be too grabby, while the powertrain itself is a gem.
As mentioned, the BMW X1 uses the tried and tested 2.0-liter diesel engine, and it’s an engine we love so much. An acceleration run from 0-100 kph is quoted by BMW at 7.8 seconds, which is genuinely quick by any standard. Overtaking is effortless, plus there’s plenty of pull whatever the rev range. There are no paddle shifters, but they’re not needed at all, because the 8-speed automatic made by Aisin (not by ZF because of the X1’s FWD architecture) downshifts almost always to the correct gear when overtaking or when you need more power. Nevertheless, if you still want more control, you can always switch it to manual mode through the shifter.
Despite the X1’s stellar performance and acceleration, fuel economy is excellent, averaging at 14.5 km/l over a week’s worth of use.
Negatives? Well, they mostly concentrate on features, because at P3,790,000, the BMW X1 is missing a few features that you expect at this price point. While it does have numerous safety features such as traction control, brake assist, reverse camera, curtain airbags, just to name a few, the X1 does not come with any advanced driver-assist features such as automatic emergency braking. Most of its rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Volvo XC40 have automatic emergency braking. Plus, it’s quite surprising not to find basic cruise control at this price point when even a Honda Jazz has it.
As a whole though, the BMW X1 still remains to be an excellent small luxury SUV. While it lacks many features expected at this price point, it does make it up by providing the most solid driving dynamics and one of the most spacious interiors in its class. The BMW X1 serves as a great entry point for your first-ever BMW SUV experience. Do note that as of this writing, BMW is offering this X1 xDrive20d xLine at a discounted price of P2,990,000
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★☆☆
Overall: 4.3 out of 5