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Bigger, plusher X1 attempts a comeback

S Muralidhar | Updated on January 20, 2018

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For its second generation, the BMW X1 gets a lot more 'X' character and a much needed boost to cabin quality



The X1 seemed a bit like the odd one out in BMW India's portfolio. In the Indian context, its design was a mishmash and its size neither here nor there, making it look like a hatchback that was attempting to usurp the power and prestige bestowed by the X badge.

To make matters worse, BMW India chose to launch a rather stripped down variant in the 'Corporate Edition' pulling down the X1's aspirational value. This CE variant was missing a number of features and had a spartan interior theme high on plasticky trim and fabric seats. An aggressive marketing campaign for this variant didn't help and potential buyers weren't too swayed by the competitive pricing either.

That was in 2011-12, but thankfully, now the X1 has gone through a complete overhaul for its second generation model. It is now bigger, more powerful and loaded with tech and features across the entire range of variants. The entry-level BMW SUV now seems worthy of wearing the 'X' badge.

Design

The new 2016 BMW X1 looks more like a sports utility vehicle than its predecessor thanks to its proportionate dimensions and raised roofline. The second generation model is now taller by 53mm and some of its other dimensions have also expanded. Compared to the rather squat and elongated look of the predecessor, which made it look a bit like an estate, the new X1's design is upright, giving it the classic profile befitting an 'X' model.

The taller new model's increased height has also helped increase the space in the cabin. Driver and occupants get a raised seating position (up 36mm at the front and 64mm at the rear) enabling a better view of the road. If you found the previous gen X1 a bit cramped inside, knee room at the rear of the new model gets a boost (37mm) and since the rear seat can also be adjusted forwards or backwards, the knee room can be increased by up to 66mm.

The design of this new X1 focuses on increasing the perception of width and solidity to a compact SUV that is less than 4.5 metres long. Family ties are reinforced with the large, upright kidney grille, the three-section lower air intake and the characteristic six-eyed look formed by the twin-ringed headlights and the fog lamps below them. Flared wheel arches and the design lines that converge into an X-shape at the kidney grille further add to the X-character.

The tapering roofline at the rear and the characteristic window surfaces capture the essence of the X design. At the rear, the tail-gate is now larger and the boot space is also up. The tail-lamps are also LED units and bear resemblances to the X3.

Cabin

The first observation every one will make when they step into the new X1 is that the quality of the cabin has gotten a significant boost. Many more features like the panoramic sunroof and leather seats give the cabin a more premium feel. The dashboard follows trademark BMW design and build. More driver orientation in the dashboard layout and an increased use of fresh materials in the cabin makes this second generation X1 fit into the line up with the other X models.

The iDrive system has also been updated with a new, larger control display - a 16.5cm or a 22.2cm free standing monitor - depending on the trim variant. There are three equipment lines to choose from - Expedition, xLine and MSport. Depending on the variant, the new X1 also gets fine wood trim, LED optical fibre in the doors for mood lighting, leather wrapped MSport steering wheel and a Head-up display.

Performance

The previous generation X1 was available with one Petrol and one Diesel engine. The new model has been launched with just one Diesel engine for now. This new generation four-cylinder, 2-litre diesel comes with the latest BMW TwinPower Turbo tech. The variable geometry turbocharger ensures that it behaves like a much more efficient powertrain. BMW claims that the new model's rated fuel consumption is 20.68kmpl under standard testing. Our test mule returned an average of about 13.5kmpl after being driven about 850kms over city, highway and hilly sections in Delhi and Dehradun.

The 1,995cc engine now generates about 5kW more power than the predecessor's unit. Peak power is about 190hp or 140kW and peak torque is 400Nm. The engine is paired with the 8-speed steptronic automatic transmission. Two new additions to the transmission package are launch control and paddle shifters. There are also three driving modes that can be chosen by flicking the Driving Experience Control switch - Comfort, Sport or Eco Pro. On the road, the X1 feels adequately quick, but only when you weigh its behaviour against its position as a compact SUV.

Sport and Manual modes extract the best performance from this engine, that is if you are not stuck in crawling traffic. Given the relatively small range for working the engine's power delivery between 2,000rpm to 4,000rpm, you will need to shift up for overtaking at higher speeds on the highway. But for cruising and straight line acceleration, the transmission's wider gear spread keeps the engine revs lower at higher speed levels. Auto start stop and the coasting function help improve fuel efficiency.

The 2016 X1 also get an all-new chassis and driving dynamics have improved. There are two versions of the new model to choose from - sDrive 20d and xDrive 20d. The latter features BMW's all-wheel drive system, which combines with dynamic stability control and distributes engine power to the front and rear axle or individual wheels to ensure traction. It also counteracts preemptively any tendency of the vehicle to under steer or oversteer while cornering or in slippery conditions.

Bottomline

The X1 is now a much more loaded package. More SUV-like design, larger proportions, and a more spacious, well-appointed cabin makes this much more desirable than the predecessor model. With prices ranging from ₹30 lakh to ₹40 lakh, the X1 will be competing with most entry sedans in the luxury space.

Published on June 16, 2016

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