BMW’s entry into the compact luxury SUV category stands pat for its sophomore season.
Turbo four-cylinder puts out 241 horses; 300 horsepower available from turbocharged six-cylinder; six-speed manual transmission, or optional fuel-saving eight-speed automatic.
Given how closely the entry-level X1 and next-step X3 are in exterior styling department, the tape measure is nearly the only way to confirm which is which. Logically, the X1 is shorter and narrower by about eight inches and three inches, respectively, and two inches shorter between the front and rear wheels. As well, the X3 offers nearly double the storage volume of the X1 with its rear seats up and close to 20 percent more room with the X1′s second-row 40:20:20 split rear seat folded flat. However, the X1 certainly doesn’t come up short in interior accommodations. The front seats feel wonderfully supportive, as they do with most BMWs, while rear-seat leg and knee room might only be a problem for tall types. The base powerplant is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out a very respectable 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. In addition, the X1 weighs 400 pounds less than the X3, which is good news in terms of performance. BMW claims that zero-to-60 mph takes less than six seconds with the six-speed manual transmission, or in the 6.3-second range when equipped with the optional eight-speed automatic. For those wanting more oomph, there’s also an optional 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder with 300 horsepower. Amazingly, base X1′s come either in rear-wheel-drive or optionally with BMW’s xDrive permanent all-wheel-drive setup; upscale models get xDrive as standard. It splits the torque equally between the front and rear wheels in normal driving, but can shift 100 percent of the torque to whichever axle has the most grip. xDrive will also automatically direct added power to the rear wheels when turning to reduce the vehicle’s tendency to continue in a straight line (called understeer). To hold the starting price near the $30,000 territory, the base X1 is on the stark side, devoid of leather seats, fancy interior/exterior trim and a number mechanical/safety features. On the option list is a panoramic glass roof, larger-diameter wheels, heated leather seats, up-level audio/navigation system and a sports steering wheel with paddle shifters for the automatic transmission. Also offered is an aero body kit that’s part of the M sports package.
Base price (incl. destination): $31,800 (sDrive28i); $39,800 (xDrive35i)
Type: Four-door compact wagon
Base engine (hp): 2.0-liter DOHC I4, turbocharged (240)
Optional engine (hp): 3.0-liter DOHC I6, turbocharged (300)
Layout: Front-engine, rear- /all-wheel-drive
Transmissions: Six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic (opt.)
MPG (city/hwy): 24/34 (AT)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control
Weight (lb.): 3,550