- Punchy turbocharged engine and smooth shifting 8-speed automatic transmission provide a surprising level of performance
- Handling is typical BMW, meaning better than everything else in the segment
- Classification defying exterior design actually works, combining the aggressive stance of an SUV with the sleek lines of a small wagon
- Engine auto start-stop jolts the car like a baby shaking its rattler
- Interior is modestly sized and sparsely equipped: our otherwise well-optioned test car still lacked seat warmers
- Add the usual luxury car options and the price easily soars to almost $50k
With more and more car buyers looking to downsize, but with the current 3 Series and X3 models having increased in size, BMW was left with a distinct hole in its lineup. Enter the new 2013 X1, a compact Sports Activity Vehicle aimed squarely at the young, active car buyer looking for something small, sporty, yet still practical.
Sharing the same architecture as the 1 Series coupe, the X1 has been available in Europe for the past few years and has been quite successful. Although more of a compact wagon than a small SUV, the X1 should provide a compelling alternative to folks shopping for an entry-level luxury vehicle.
The X1 is available in both rear and all-wheel drive, and offers the choice of turbocharged 4 or 6 cylinder engines (the 6-cylinder only available with AWD). We had the opportunity to sample the X1 xDrive28i, which will likely be the volume seller. At first glance, the X1 looks to be redundant with the slightly larger X3, as both offer the same powertrain options and would seem to fulfill a similar niche. Whip out the measuring tape, however, and the X1 proves to be substantially shorter and less tall, making it more comparable to a hatchback than a traditional SUV.
The X1 xDrive28i features the same turbocharged, direct injection 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that’s available in the 3 Series and X3. Output is a healthy 240 hp and 260 lb.-ft. torque. Paired with a smooth and quick shifting 8-speed automatic, this engine offers a surprising amount of performance, reminding us more of a feisty hot hatch than an entry-level luxury car. The 0-60 sprint takes just a bit over 6 seconds, and courtesy of the xDrive all-wheel drive system, acceleration is pretty much drama free. Performance is so good that we hardly see the need for the turbocharged 6-cylinder engine available in the X1 xDrive35i.
One of the perks of this small engine is supposed to be enhanced fuel efficiency, although we hardly saw the kind of mileage that would make a Prius owner jealous. The EPA gives the X1 xDrive28i a 22/33/26 (city/hwy/combined) mpg rating, but after several hundred miles of mixed driving we could barely achieve the city mpg rating. Perhaps it’s the gutsy turbo engine that caused us to misbehave a bit much with our right foot, but we’ve achieved similar mileage in cars with much larger V6 engines, which was a bit disappointing.
The X1 also features an engine start/stop function, but BMW still hasn’t found a way to restart the engine without the kind of shudder that literally shakes the whole car. Fortunately you can turn this feature off, although every time you start the car it defaults back to the “on” setting.
Handling is something BMW has always taken pride in, and the X1 is luckily very much a BMW. The suspension is firm but forgiving, and excelled when rallying over stretches of poor pavement. The X1 does sit a bit higher off the ground than a typical sports sedan, and you’ll notice the higher center of gravity when entering a turn, but cornering grip is still quite excellent, no doubt aided by a set of low-profile tires mounted on optional 18 inch rims. At lower speeds the steering is very stiff, to the point of making parking the X1 a bit of a chore, but at speed this allows for a responsiveness that you usually don’t find in the crossover segment.
As the compact exterior dimensions suggest, the interior of the X1 is quite small, although it feels a bit bigger than it actually is. Backseat room is especially tight and transporting five full size adults would be an exercise in coziness. Fold the rear seats down and there is decent amount of usable space, making the X1 more practical than a compact sedan, although a visit to Ikea would probably have you regretting that you didn’t borrow a friend’s pickup.
Like with the current 3 Series, BMW has succeeded in making the X1 a pleasant place to pass the time. Although not the most luxurious interior, the materials and craftsmanship are on par with other entry-level luxury cars. Just expect to pay extra for options like Navigation and power seats, as the base model X1, like other BMWs, is pretty much a stripper.
The Price of Luxury and Sportiness
The X1 is currently the cheapest BMW you can buy, starting at $30,800 for the sDrive28i. Opt for the AWD xDrive28i and the price bumps up to $32,500, which is still quite reasonable, until you start checking boxes on the option sheet. Our test car featured over $10,000 in options, yet amazingly still didn’t come with heated seats. Given the level of equipment that comes standard on your average compact crossover these days, not to mention a larger mid-size SUV, the X1 presents a difficult value proposition. You could buy a loaded Grand Cherokee for the price of this pint-size crossover, and it would probably have more options and features.
What Others Are Saying About the BMW X1
Left Lane News: “Feeling delightfully like BMW of yore, the X1′s inner trappings are, for the most part, a very nice place to whittle away the miles.”
Autoweek: “The four is no slouch either, putting up 6.2-second 0-to-60-mph times (6.3 seconds with AWD), and feels strong and responsive across the power band. We found ample power to pass on tight back-road routes and plenty of oomph to push the car to autobahn speeds. However, there is a noticeable, almost diesel-like drone to the powertrain at steady speeds in eighth gear, which could prove annoying over time.”
Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120717/carreviews/120719874#ixzz2TUenQf6X
Follow us: @AutoweekUSA on Twitter | AutoweekUSA on Facebook
2013 BMW X1 xDrive28i
- Engine: twin-scroll turbocharged, direct injection 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Horsepower: 240 hp @ 5000-6500 rpm
- Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 1250 – 4800 rpm
- Fuel Economy: 22 city / 33 highway / 22 observed mpg
- Base Price Range: $30,800 $38,600
- Price as tested: