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BMW’s Urban all-rounder will now play all forms of the game

S.Muralidhar | Updated on March 14, 2020 Published on March 12, 2020

With an elaborate facelift and new skills, the entry-level SUV is prepped to take on old and new opponents

The BMW X1 had a slow start when it was first introduced. Being one of the German brand’s entry-level vehicles, Indian buyers seemed to be reluctant to buy its stripped down base variant and would have found its top-of-the-line XDrive variant to be too expensive for a vehicle in its size class. It had to find the sweet spot in terms of positioning price-wise and features-wise. The X1 did that later into its life-cycle going on to become quite popular and giving a lot of newcomers to BMW a taste of the brand’s trademark sporty character.

The 2019 X1, the second generation of the model, has had to contend with a slowly rising base of competitors. The most potent of them all — the new Mercedes-Benz GLA — is due to hit Indian showrooms soon. Of course, there have been others like the Volvo XC40 and Audi Q3 nipping at its heels. So, a mid-cycle refresh was due. BMW India launched the new X1 last week and it is essentially an elaborate facelift inside and out, to help retain its base of buyers.

Design

One of the issues with the outgoing X1 was that the design didn’t quite make it look squat and wide. It has been based on the UKL2 platform and has been available in long wheelbase versions in markets like China. The new 2020 X1 manages to deliver a squatter, more substantial look when viewed both from the front and the rear. The most obvious change at the front, in keeping with the design direction that a lot of the brand’s recent models have taken, is the larger kidney grille.

 

 

The kidneys are joined together at the middle, and the chrome covered grille already gives the new X1 a bigger, sportier face. Within the headlamps, the LED rings have been replaced by the half hexagonal DRL tubes. And the redesigned front apron in the facelift sports integrated LED fog lights in two of the trim variants.

 

The new X1 carries over the crossover DNA from its predecessor and has the right amount of sports activity vehicle character still intact despite its relatively small dimensions (4.45metres length). The rising window line that tapers towards the rear, the new panoramic sunroof and the 17-inch alloy wheels enhance the perception of size when you view the X1 from the side. The tail-lamps at the rear are slightly wider and now feature a more horizontal combination to highlight the width of the vehicle. The tailgate is pretty similar to the outgoing model, but the rear fender now sports an interesting feature in the bigger twin exhaust tailpipes. They are not dummies and they go on to make quite a statement about the TwinPower Turbo engines that the X1 is being offered with now.

Cabin

Before I step into the vehicle, another first that I spot in the facelifted X1 is the addition of a puddle lamp to the driver’s side door mirror. This projects a two-tone LED ‘X1’ image on the ground; this, in addition to the illuminated door handles, is a practical addition when you are approaching the car in the dark. The cabin in the new X1 is still typically BMW in its driver-focussed orientation and layout. The seats are just that bit raised to give it the SUV character and road view that all owners crave.

 

The cabin in the new X1 is still typically BMW in its driver-focussed orientation and layout   -  S Muralidhar

 

The amount of flat surfaces and simple, textured plastic panels there are of course give away the X1’s position in the brand’s model hierarchy. But, there are some nice touches in the facelift that elevate the cabin. Features like the elegantly shaped gear knob, the middle section of the centre stack that houses the 2-zone auto aircon controls and the music system’s buttons and of course the panoramic roof. The centre console too houses the iDrive touch-controller and related switches, and cup holders and storage that are elegantly covered by scrolling plastic panels. The front seats were electrically adjustable in the SDrive trim I was driving. The driver’s seat also gets three preset memory buttons. The rear bench seat is nicely contoured and can be folded down in a 40:20:40 configuration to create more space in the boot. With the seats in place, the boot offers 550-litres of space. The backrest of the rear seat can be reclined a bit for more comfort. There are a few upmarket features that attempt to make the new X1’s cabin feel special, and they include the 6-colour ambient lighting and the micro-activated carbon particulate filter that freshens up the cabin air. It also gets some updated options for the infotainment and connectivity features, including wireless Apple CarPlay.

Performance

Obviously, in keeping with the current trend, the new X1 also gets reworked powertrains that are BS VI compliant. One diesel and one petrol engine is what it continues to be offered with, and both two-litre, 4-cylinder units feature BMW’s proprietary TwinPower Turbo tech. My test mule was the X1 20i SDrive which has the petrol engine delivering an output of 192hp at 5,000 to 6,000rpm and a peak torque of 280Nm at 1,350-4,600rpm. The engine is mated to a 7-speed steptronic sport transmission with dual clutch and a shift-by-wire gear selector switch. On the road, it doesn’t outperform it’s configuration and size class. But acceleration is pretty decent and it stays quiet in the cabin with a refined ride. In Sport mode, there is more perceivable difference in the feel and weight of the servotronic speed-assisted steering than in the sheer amount of power being delivered. Navigating slow moving traffic with short bursts of speed is easy with peak torque available early and staying through much of the mid-rpm band. The other driving modes available are Comfort and EcoPro. Steering-mounted paddles are offered for manual gear selection and there is the option of ‘launch control’ and ‘expert’ functions if you do want to try out the X1 at the track.

The other engine on offer is the 2-litre, diesel in the ‘20d’ which generates 190hp of power and 400Nm of torque. That engine is mated to a 8-speed steptronic sport transmission. Rated fuel efficiency is 14.82kmpl for the petrol and 19.62kmpl for the diesel engine.

Bottom Line

 

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This is not a heavy sports utility and weight distribution is a perfect 50:50, so within its limitations, this still feels much more like a nimble station-wagon in terms of its dynamics rather than a UV. Both the engines’ output figures are nearly the same, though mapping changes are evident. My test mule’s suspension set up also felt more pliant compared to the stiff settings we are used to in BMWs of the past. It is all front-wheel drive now since there is no XDrive variant, and one of the effects of that is the bit of torque-steer under hard acceleration and a bit of understeer during cornering. But it is offered with the DSC stability system and related electronic aids lending some support under slippery conditions.

The new X1 is being offered in two trim variants each for the petrol and diesel engine versions. Prices start at ₹35.9 lakh and buyers have the option of taking a 5-year/ 60,000kms service, maintenance and warranty package for ₹15,000 per annum. Right now that is one of the best deals in the segment.

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Published on March 12, 2020
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