It is always tough to update a best-seller. Especially something like the X1 which is one of the highest-selling luxury SUVs in India. Whether it was the first generation, which welcomed a lot of first-time customers into the BMW fold, or the outgoing one which addressed some shortcomings of the first generation, the X1 has always been a crowd favourite. Competition spares none and the X1 had been feeling the heat for a while, from the updated GLA and the Q3 specifically. BMW took its time, but the new X1 is here and it seems ready to take back its best-seller crown.
Courtesy of a new platform and BMW’s front-wheel drive architecture, the new X1 looks much bigger than the outgoing model. Dimensionally it is too, but the design changes give it more road presence than earlier. There is no hiding from the large, chrome kidney grille which makes the adaptive LED lights look smaller than they are. In the photos, it may look a bit ungainly, but in reality, it does add to the renewed road presence of the X1. The rear has been updated with tail-lights with a 3D effect, and a fairly reflective thick panel at the bottom. There is a spoiler too, but it really doesn’t do much visually. 18-inch wheels help with the SUV look, and the X1 does look bigger and better. You will get used to the grille sooner than you think.
If the exterior is an improvement, the interiors have been overhauled. Something where the outgoing model was lacking, especially when compared to the competition. There is quality all around, in this cabin, led by a driver-centric curved display which controls almost everything. Chrome and brushed aluminium have been sprinkled generously, the leather on the dash is double-stitched and the floating centre armrest, which houses the start/stop and gear selector functions is quite cool. There aren’t many buttons, but the few that are there are all finished in high quality. An eager eye may spot some not-so-high-quality bits, but nothing which is a downer.
No luxury car is complete without connected tech these days, sadly, and the X1 has its share too. The coolest, or the riskiest, being a digital key which can be used via your phone and you can share it with four people. There are ADAS functions like active cruise control and brake assist, but I found them to be a little too alert for our roads. The X1 is loaded with features like front massage seats, a 12-speaker Harman Kadon system, panoramic sunroof, reverse assistant. auto tailgate and the usual suspects like Apple Car Play and Android Auto. There is decent space for four people in the cabin, and the rear seat slides and reclines. The 18 inches which help with the SUV looks, take the ride quality a bit on the stiffer side. Ventilated seats would have helped and I would have prefered not using the touch screen for everything, including drive modes, but that’s perhaps because I am a bit old-school.
BMW, thankfully, hasn’t given the oil burner a miss and the new X1 is available in both petrol and diesel. The green fairy has given them a visit though, as both versions are not really ones which will get your heart racing. In the 18d M Sport guise, which is what you see here, the new X1 makes 148 bhp and 36 kgm which is almost 40 bhp down on the outgoing model. Not something you feel every time you drive the car, as the focus is more on comfort and refinement instead of performance. Put your foot down hard, and you’ll be surprised by the torque steer, something one doesn’t say about BMWs often.
If the drop in power figures is playing on your mind, let me reassure you. The driving experience isn’t disappointing at all, it is just calmer and quieter. The gearbox works well and the bottom-end torque makes driving at normal speeds a breeze. The calmness does disappear when you push this engine hard, and so does the quiet, but the power delivery is pretty smooth. There is a boost mode too, engaged by pulling the left paddle, but let’s just say that boost is not the secret of the X1’s energy. The M Sport steering is chunky to hold and fairly direct, even if it lacks the feel one wants from a BMW.
The first generation X1 was like an entry-level car, but this generation can’t really be called entry-level. The size, space, features – almost everything except the engines, make the X1 a contender for a segment higher. At Rs 47.9 lakh (ex-showroom) for this variant, the new X1 is priced well too. Could BMW have made the X1 more fun to drive? Sure. But let’s be honest, most people buying these cars are looking for comfort and luxury more than sportiness. The new X1 is one up on the competition on both those parameters, for sure.
PHOTOS S Shubham
AUTODATABMW X1 18d M Sport
148 bhp@4000 rpm
36 kgm@1500-2500 rpm
F/R: 225/55 R18 / 225/55 R18
Rs 47.90 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)