Driving a premium car is always quite special. It doesn’t matter if it performs the same basic function as a mainstream model, or that it’s no more powerful than its much cheaper equivalent, because it has that coveted badge – and in this case a BMW badge – you immediately feel 100% better about yourself.
It starts the moment you walk into a BMW showroom. Displayed behind its jewel-like, all glass façade are expensive metal, from the 1 Series to the M8 coupé, most costs more than the average annual salary of a person.
Even the coffee machine is bespoke BMW complete with an iPad-like touchscreen recessed into the gleaming glass splashback for making your selection. And don’t expect to find the physical coffee machine as there’s none to be seen. Your coffee is dispensed via a lone spout sprouting out from the marble benchtop, like a tap in a high-end kitchen.
The showroom furniture wouldn’t look out of place in an expensive restaurant, either, and you’re served by salesmen, or as they’d preferred to be called – consultants, who are dressed in expensive, tailored suits.
And if you are one of the lucky (or silly, depending which way you look at it) ones who seal the deal, a BMW Genius – fashioned after Apple’s Geniuses – takes care of delivery with a thorough walk through of your new vehicle with you. They are after all, the genius that knows the vehicle inside out and are on hand to answer any questions.
So yes, the experience is rather special indeed even though the car does the same job as getting you from A to B safely as a $17k cheaper, and bigger, Mazda CX-5 Maxx Auto.
And it is this experience; along with the perceived cache of the propeller badge that many are happy to pay for, despite the X1’s rather average driving experience.
However, at $49,900 before on-road costs, the X1 sDrive18d undercuts its close rival, the $52,100 Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d by $2,200. It’s also significantly cheaper than the $67,080 Jaguar E-Pace D180 R-Dynamic SE. The X1 is only beaten in price by the $46,990 Volvo XC40 T4 Momentum, which is a petrol only proposition against all the oilers.
It’s not hard to see why the X1 is one of the more popular models in its segment, with the sDrive18d the most in demand in the line-up.
But before you get too excited, there’s a caveat. To get the X1 you see here you’ll need to fork out an extra $7,698 for things like the metallic paint ($1,308), panoramic glass sunroof ($1,890), ‘Dakota’ leather upholstery ($2,000) and the M Sport pack ($2,500).
Despite costing nearly as much as a VW Golf R, you’ll still have to do without blind spot assist, keyless entry, auto dimming rear view mirror and rear air vents. You also work with a manual air conditioner when a Kia Rio comes with a fully automatic climate control system.
Nevertheless, you soon forgive its meagre spec sheet because the X1 is certainly one of the better-looking small SUVs around, with its sporty squat stance and plunging roofline. The 2020 update also brings crisper LED head and taillights, sportier M Sport kit and better looking 18-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the functional and business like interior features premium materials with a good lashing of brushed metal highlights to spice things up. Like most BMWs, the driving position is excellent with all controls falling easily to hand.
The 8.8-inch infotainment system is however, one-generation behind the latest BMW Operating System 7.0 found in newer models. It’s a touchscreen system that can also be controlled via BMW’s iDrive controller. However, it’s an old controller that hasn’t been updated with a touchpad on top of the dial like newer systems.
Nevertheless, the menus are logically laid out and easy to navigate, with physical short cut buttons for commonly used functions such as navigation and radio. The graphics are still up to the premium standard buyers in the segment expect.
The sports front seats are generally comfortable although the lack of lumbar support is an oversight. It does however compensate with electrically adjustable side bolsters for enhanced grip during cornering as part of the M Sport package.
Those intending to use the X1’s rear seats will be pleased with the generous rear accommodation on offer, while young families will find the conveniently located ISOFIX mounting points on both outer rear seats for their child seats a god sent.
There are two USB ports in the rear centre console and one in front of the gear lever for the front seat occupants.
What I like most about BMWs is the Wireless Apple CarPlay feature that is now standard. It automatically connects to the popular system via Bluetooth without the need for a cable and there’s a built-in charging pad under the armrest for your smartphone, too.
The X1 also gets a big tick on practicality with a generous 505 litres of boot space that expands to 1,550 litres when the 40/20/40 split rear seats are tumbled forward. Lifting the boot floor reveals an additional storage underneath, thanks to the absence of a spare wheel (the X1 has run flat tyres).
While our tester isn’t equipped with adaptive cruise control, it’s worth noting that BMW’s ‘regular’ cruise control does comes with a handy braking function that keeps the X1’s speed in check when going down hill.
Under the bonnet, the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine produces a modest 110kW and 330Nm. It’s connected to an 8-speed steptronic automatic transmission driving the front wheels. BMW claims the X1 sDrive18d will hit 100km/h from a standstill in 9.2 seconds, which from the feel on test, is about on the money.
While it’s not the last word in power output, the 330Nm on tap from just above 1,500rpm does make for a quick take off from the lights, with a sufficient dose of mid-range torque up its sleeve for confident overtaking sprints. The 8-speed auto also brings the best out of the engine and dishes up the right gear most of the time.
BMW claims the X1 sDrive18d will return 5.3L/100km on the combined cycle, although our weeklong test suggests a more realistic figure of 6.1L/100km with around 70 per cent of city driving.
And if you do most of your driving in the city like us, you might find the X1’s ride to be jiggly on most road surfaces bar buttery smooth tarmac. There’s also some body roll around corners although not confidence killing.
The front wheels provide good grip as long as you don’t get overly enthusiastic on corner exit and the steering provide isn’t overly heavy in most driving modes.
Design & Comfort
Performance & Handling
Equipment & Features
- Stylish and bold appearance
- Practical design and plenty of passenger and cargo room
- Premium fit and finish
- Front seats lack lumbar support
- Keyless entry and blindspot monitoring should be standard
- Not as thrifty on fuel as advertised
The updated 2020 BMW X1 sDrive18d isn’t flawless but its premium badge and the way that it makes you feel special only a premium brand can do is enough to ensure it remains one of the more popular small premium SUVs
2020 BMW X1 LCI sDrive18d M Sport Pricing and Specification
|Price (Excl. on-road costs)||From: $49,900|
As tested: $57,598
|Warranty||3 Years/Unlimited Kilometres|
|Warranty Customer Assistance||3 Year Roadside|
|Country of Origin||Germany|
|Service Intervals||12 months/25,000km|
|Engine||2.0-litre turbo intercooled in-line four cylinder diesel:|
110kW @ 4000rpm, 330Nm @ 1750-2750rpm
|Transmission||8 Speed Sports Automatic|
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg)||74.9|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km)||Claimed: 5.3 / Tested: 6.1|
|Fuel Capacity (L)||61|
|Body||5-door SUV, 5 seats|
|Safety||5-star ANCAP, 6 Airbags, Brake Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Speed Zone Reminder, Seatbelt Load Limiters & Pre-Tensioners (front), Reverse Camera, Forward Collision Mitigation (low speed), Forward Collision Warning, Park Distance Control (front/rear), Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Brake Emergency Display, Corner Braking Control, Anti-Lock Braking System, Brake Emergency Display, Brake Assist, Traction Control, Stability Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution.|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm||4447/1821/1598/2670|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||1,510|
|Turning Circle Between Kerbs||11.4|
|Boot Space (Expanded) (L)||505 (1,550)|
|Towing Capacity (kg)||Braked: 1800 / Unbraked: 750|