BMW was the first premium brand to offer a jacked-up all-wheel drive hatch to buyers – and boy did they love it, with over 730,000 sold since its debut in 2009. The new X1 features a bigger body and more efficient engine options than its predecessor, but also follows in the footsteps of its stablemate, the 2 Series Active Tourer, by making the switch to front wheel drive.
heel drive.Hiding under the X1’s hood is a choice of two petrol and three diesel powerplants. For fans of petrol power the range kicks off with the 2.0-liter sDrive20i, which channels 141 kW (192 hp) and 280 Nm (206 lb.ft) through the front wheels. This is good enough for a 7.7 second sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph), although with peak torque available between 1250 and 4600 rpm, expect the driving experience to be dominated by surging acceleration rather than screaming, high rev performance.
If you’re averse to the idea of a front-wheel drive BMW, the entry-level petrol engine is also available with xDrive all-wheel drive, although ticking that box makes the car a fraction slower (0.1 second) slower to 100 km/h. The xDrive20i’s 6.4 l/100km (44.1 mpg) fuel use figure is also worse than the 6.0 l/100km (47.1 mpg) managed by its lighter front-drive sibling.
For those keen for a bit of extra grunt under the right foot, the 170 kW (231 hp) all-wheel drive only xDrive25i is more likely to grab your attention. Thanks to its extra power and 350 Nm (258 lb.ft) of torque, the most powerful petrol X1 hits 100 km/h in a hot-hatch rivalling 6.5 seconds, all the while using just 6.6 l/100km (42.8 mpg) of fuel.
Alongside the three petrol options are two diesel engines, starting with the 110 kW (150 hp) sDrive18d. The entry-level diesel might be down on power, but has 330 Nm (243 lb.ft) of torque between 1750 and 2750 rpm, so it won’t be a slouch when you’re on the move. Those buying an X1 with this engine aren’t likely to be too worried about outright performance anyway, instead they’re likely to be wooed its impressive 4.3 l/100km (65.7 mpg) fuel economy figure.
The all-wheel drive xDrive20d is more powerful, with 140 kW (190 hp) and 400 Nm (295 lb.ft) of torque available across a broad rev range. With a claimed fuel use figure of just 5.1 l/100km (55.4 mpg), it’s no gas-guzzler either.
At launch, the sDrive18d will be fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox that now auto rev matches on downshift, while the rest of the range is fitted with an eight-speed automatic as standard.
With the switch to front wheel drive, BMW has redesigned the X1’s chassis and suspension setup. The car’s single joint front and multilink rear suspension geometry has been revised, while aluminum swivel bearings, high-strength steel control arms and lightweight axle carriers help to reduce weight and increase the rigidity of the front axle – both factors that have an impact a sharp, incisive handling.
On the outside, the X1’s body has grown taller, and the styling has been brought into line with BMW’s bigger X3 and X5 offerings, with its wider headlamps and bigger kidney grille. A range of wheel and trim options will allow drivers to spend obscene amounts of money customizing their cars, too.
Inside, BMW has focused on improving the practicality of the new model. The outgoing X1 had quite a narrow rear bench, and legroom was limited – something the company has addressed by allowing occupants to slide the rear bench back or forward by up to 13 cm (5.1 inches). All three rear seats also fold individually in the new car, which allows owners to carry their surfboards, skis and bikes more easily. The new X1’s interior also boasts more premium materials than its predecessor.
The X1 will go on sale later this year, with the range to be bolstered by three-cylinder options shortly after launch.