Until last week, I was sure the second generation BMW X1 was a subcompact crossover SUV, or sport activity vehicle as BMW likes to remind everyone, but it's in fact one of the smaller compact vehicles in the segment, competing alongside it's slightly larger X3 brother. The X1 is now BMW's entry-level crossover, allowing people to get into the brand at an affordable starting price and adding the features they want or need from that, but is it still the same BMW experience?
My week with the X1 started off as any other since starting up with the press fleets out here on Montreal, with a nice 120km drive back home to our global studios in Acton Vale. Avoiding all the potholes this time, it gave me a good opportunity to get to know this cheerful little vehicle, and over our week I had a very good idea of what this X1 has to offer.
Let's talk about the exterior. The first generation's wagon-like design is gone, and this new vehicle looks a lot like the 2018 update to the X3, just a bit smaller. Up front we have adaptive LED headlights with LED cornering lamps, much like the 2018 Mini Countryman we featured earlier. The fog lamps are still halogen based and require to be manually turned on each time you need them. Front and rear Park Distance Control and power folding mirrors are optioned on this, along with BMW's comfort access keyless entry and a power lift-gate.
Styling will always be subjective, the X1 is certainly better looking than the generation it replaced, but continues to follow BMW's design language that many of our viewers are finding stale. Our car's sport package adds 19" rims, however this test vehicle had 18" winter rims/tires equipped still. Speaking of equipment, the base price for the X1 is $40,600.00 CAD and ours came with $12,095.00 in options, making this one of the more expensive crossovers we've featured on this show so far.
Jumping inside we find a similar BMW interior, but not one borrowed off the previous generation X3 like we expected. The X1's mocha Nevada leather interior is one of a number of different colour options available, which is something that always helps BMW stand out from the rest of the competition. We found the sport seats up front to be firm but supportive, and consistent with other sport seats found on other models from BMW. We think people who like a firm seat will be happy with these.
Front and rear space in this crossover was better than expected, and even the trunk had ample room over what we anticipated. The target market for this crossover will likely be using this to get back and forth to work or daily errands around town, so the smaller form factor will work well for them. Our family of 3 had no issues with space, and getting groceries for a week fit no problem in the trunk area. The ability to fold the seats down in a 40/20/40 split allows for more flexibility when needing to haul longer or larger items.
While safety tech is relatively lacking on this vehicle given the price-point, you do get two ambient light colour options, wireless Apple CarPlay through the iDrive navigation system, and heated front seats with a heated steering wheel. The 3 main safety features are forward obstruction warning, pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning. None of these features are active, but will alert the driver of a pending issue.
We really do like the iDrive experience, easily the best among any other infotainment system. The upgraded HiFi audio system doesn't seem to do much to enhance the overall experience over the absolute base system, but you can upgrade to Harman/Kardon audio which we do prefer over a lot of other premium music systems. The HiFi system does seem to add Logic7 subwoofers under the front seats though, so that is a plus.
Performance is also on the higher side of the market with the 228 horsepower twin-power turbo engine. It has more power than most of the consumer crossovers in this segment, but fuel efficiency wasn't ideal for the size of the X1. We averaged 9.7L/100km with mostly highway driving during our week, and with the cost of premium fuel increasing it's going to cost more in gas than we'd typically like to see in this category.
We didn't have any issues with power delivery getting onto the highway or passing slower traffic, but did note that the transmission shifts slower when driving in comfort mode. If you really need to get going you'll want to jump on over into sport mode.
Overall BMW's smallest sport activity vehicle has a market here in Canada with buyers who want to get into the BMW brand and get some of the features they need. While it might not give us the full BMW experience we'd expect, this will be a popular seller in BMW's SAV lineup. Buyers up here want crossovers, and the standard xDrive will definitely be a selling factor over sedans.
You can watch our full episode of TestDrive Spotlight on the 2018 BMW X1 xDrive28i here: