BMW’s X1 illustrates the importance of first impressions.
The car maker’s smallest and cheapest SUV is tasked with the role of convincing buyers of mainstream brands to take the leap into luxury.
The previous X1 was a big hit, attracting more than 22,000 buyers.
The new model moves the goalposts forward, at a cost.
Prices start at $53,900 (before on-road costs) for the entry-level 18i and $65,900 for the 20i. Previous models started at $47,900 for the X1 18i and $56,900 for the 20i.
The cheapest model is powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine making 115kW and 230Nm, matched to a quick shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission driving the front wheels.
Pony up extra cash for the X1 20i and there’s a potent 2.0-litre four-cylinder making 150kW and 300Nm sent to all four wheels.
BMW Australia simplified the product range, opting for two well equipped variants. It says the “days of long option lists are gone”.
The X1 is the first BMW to introduce the company’s “feature on demand” service, where customers pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee for extras such as heated seats. The features can also be bought outright.
The cabins of both variants are well presented, with premium materials used throughout, although you can find hard plastics below the eye line. Build quality is what you’d expect from a luxury German maker.
The base 18i doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but there’s enough to make it feel special.
Manually adjustable faux-leather sports seats are well bolstered and provide ample side support, while sharp looking 18-inch alloy wheels and LED lighting front and back add to the appeal.
If you want extra luxury gear such as metallic paint, a panoramic sunroof or a Harman Kardon stereo, you’ll need to select an optional package that costs $4000 in the 20i and $6000 in the base model.
The 20i has standard 19-inch alloys and heated and electronically adjustable front seats.
There is a big focus on tech and connectivity in both models, including a 10.7-inch curved central touchscreen and 10.25-inch digital instrument display.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto combine with a wireless device charging pad. There are also four USB-C charging ports – two each in the front and rear.
The in-built satnav has an augmented reality display, showing a camera view of the road ahead in the central screen, with superimposed arrows alerting you to upcoming turns.
A head-up display projects your travelling speed, the prevailing speed limit and directions onto the windscreen in front of the driver, while a voice assistant will respond to “Hey BMW” prompts to change the infotainment and adjust the airconditioning.
BMW’s reversing assistant will remember the last 50 metres of your journey and automatically retrace the route to help get you out of tight car parks or narrow dead-end streets.
BMW has finally moved from a three-year warranty to a five-year/unlimited km guarantee, more than two and a half years after rival Mercedes-Benz switched to the longer coverage.
On the road the X1 20i’s 2.0-litre petrol engine shines, delivering effortless acceleration.
Its quick-shifting auto makes the most of the unit’s ample torque reserves, meaning the X1 never feels laboured accelerating up hills or overtaking on the motorway.
The smaller 1.5-litre engine in the 18i is competent but feels slightly undercooked by comparison.
The X1 displays excellent body control, sitting low and tight through corners. Sharp, responsive steering makes you want to search out a twisting country road. Its well sorted suspension soaks up bumps of most sizes but it can crash over larger potholes and imperfections.
It’s quiet, too, with the outside world mostly kept at bay.
BMW claims fuel use of 7.4L/100km for the more powerful and heavier 20i and an excellent 6.5L/100km for the base model.
BMW’s cheapest SUV brings luxury appeal and driving finesse at a reasonable price.
BMW X1 xDrive20i
PRICE From $65,900 plus on-road costs
ENGINE 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, 150kW and 300Nm
WARRANTY/SERVICING five year/unlimited km warranty, $1800-$5153 over 5 years
SAFETY Auto emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, radar cruise, surround view camera
SPARE Repair kit
LUGGAGE 540 litres
Story Credit: news.com.au