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Review: BMW X1 sDrive20d

Driven February 2013

Review: BMW X1 sDrive20d

Back in 2010, BMW was first to open up a new segment in the luxury SUV market with its compact SUV, the X1. Though it was an instant hit, it couldn’t hold on to its lead for long. More than a year later, Audi’s Q3 arrived at our shores and it kind of overshadowed the X1.

Sent back to the drawing board, BMW’s designers came up with an updated X1 that addressed the previous model’s shortcomings. As a result, the new X1 now gets a string of styling tweaks and mechanical upgrades. To begin with, it has shed most of its cheap plastic cladding, replaced now with body-coloured surfaces, making it look more upmarket. The fascia is new, with a heavily contoured bumper and redesigned lower section, altered grille and new fog lamp housings. The headlights get new internal graphics, with optional corona rings for the main beam lights. The wing mirrors get integrated turn indicators, and the re-profiled rear bumper is now much more body-coloured than it was.

Inside, the X1 gets a slightly reworked centre console and some enhanced quality bits. Although fit and finish has been improved, you can still find some hard plastics. The front seats continue to be superbly comfortable and the driver also gets memory seat function. At the back, the seats are comfy, but legroom is slightly at a premium, and with the transmission tunnel running across the cabin, it eats into rear passenger legroom.

In its first innings, the X1 was offered with 2-litre petrol and diesel engine options. But the new model is only available with an improved 2-litre diesel motor. The updated four-cylinder, in-line, 1995cc turbo-diesel is now good for 181bhp, compared to 177bhp on the older unit. And what’s more impressive is the torque, which peaks at 380Nm, up by 30Nm.

These, along with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, play a key role in the way the engine responds. The motor feels more responsive than before and the shorter gear ratios, thanks to the extra cogs, translate into better driveability in the city. There’s a hint of lag at lower RPM, but the gearbox manages to cover it instantly, and power delivery is pretty linear. The motor has a strong mid-range and it’s quite evident as you charge down the highway. The engine feels relaxed cruising at 130kph and it doesn’t run out of breath even on the wrong side of 150kph. The X1 feels pretty relaxed while being driven in ‘D’, and if you are in for some spirited driving, the 'S' or manual modes won’t disappoint you.

Like the older model, the new X1’s suspension setup is on the softer side and leans more towards passenger comfort. It’s excellent at low speeds, but as speeds rise, the car tends to pitch a bit and you experience some vertical movement. However, the road manners are excellent and straight-line stability at high speeds is commendable. What further aids its driving dynamics is the steering system. The electromechanical unit is excellent and offers great feedback at all speeds. This, coupled with a fine suspension setup, encourages you to take corners at speeds you didn’t intend to.

With the new X1, BMW is aiming for a package that’s powerful and easy on your pocket. So what you get along with a powerful motor and an eight-speed ’box is BMW’s Efficient Dynamics technology, which includes start-stop, brake energy regeneration, electric power steering and Eco Pro driving mode. All of which translates into the X1 being more fuel efficient than before, returning 12.05km to a litre, compared to the earlier 10.95kpl.

From the onset, the X1 has always had not-so-dynamic styling and not-so-great fit and finish. But with the refreshed model, BMW has taken care of that and also upgraded the machinery, bringing this car back into the game. Audi, what’s for Round 2?

The numbers
4-cyl, 1995cc, in-line turbo-diesel, 181bhp, 380Nm, 0-100kph in 7.89s, 30-50kph in 1.77s, 50-70kph in 1.94s, 12.05kpl, 205kph, Rs 32.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

The verdict
Refreshed looks, more power, better fuel economy and performance. If the new X1 doesn’t amaze you, there aren’t many options that will.

Devesh Shobha

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