After years of waiting, BMW fans in the United States are finally getting the BMW X1 added into the line up. Since the BMW X1 was introduced, the Sport Activity Vehicle has sold more than 300,000 units worldwide. For the 2013 model year, the United States looks to start adding to those sales totals.
We first saw the US Spec BMW X1 at the New York Auto Show in April and were impressed by the presence it had on the show floor. Three months later, we had the pleasure of getting behind the wheel of a 2013 BMW X1 xDrive35i with the M Sport package. The first reaction is still that it is a very good looking car inside and out. This is not a traditional Sport Utility Vehicle by any means; the X1 sits significantly lower than other competing vehicles. For example, the X1 measures a mere 60.8" high versus it's big brother X3 that checks in at 66.4". For styling, the reduced height seems to give the X1 some visually appealing lines that reduce the bulky nature of competitors. The X1 more than any other product in the line up (other than maybe the 1 series) is hit or miss for styling; some are going to love it and other hate it. We think this is a great looking option for a lot of potential buyers out there.
If you have ever driven an E9X model car and liked it, there is a good chance you are going to enjoy the feeling of the X1. The car is mostly based in E9X technology and the xDrive models are lucky to have hydraulic steering (sDrive28i comes with EPS) which is sure to be a big selling point for the enthusiast. When you sit in the X1 it almost reminds you more of driving a car than it does a Sport Activity Vehicle and that makes sense given it's size. That feel is a big bonus for drivers in our opinion. Hit the brake, push the start button and you hear that welcomed, aggressive exhaust note that puts a smile on your face. The xDrive35i is equipped with the older six speed automatic and while it is fun to drive, you end up missing the newer style 8-speed that is found in other cars such as the F30 335i. The X1 barrels down the roadways achieving 0-60 in 5.3 seconds (versus 6.2 in the xDrive28i) and gives you great feeling through the steering wheel for responsiveness. The sport suspension on the model tested was firm and sporty which is great for some but may not be well suited for people planning on taking the X1 off road. Fuel economy comes in at 18/27 for the N55 based xDrive35i versus the 28ii which will get you up to 30 mpg highway (22 city).
While we did not have the chance to drive the xDrive28i model, we have had a good amount of time behind the wheel of the Bimmerfest.com Project 328i that features the N20 motor and we imagine the two would work extremely well together. The newer 8 speed automatic paired with the 240 hp / 258 lb-ft N20 motor AND hydraulic steering seems like it would be our preferred choice. Add in the fact that the 28i weighs in 165 pounds less, achieves better fuel efficiency and comes in at a starting price $6,100 less -- we expect the xDrive28i to be the big seller in the United States market.
Interior Review and Cargo Storage
As stated above, if you have been in an E9X car then you know about what to expect. If you have the M Sport package, you will love the steering wheel. There are some other interesting bits including a removable cup holder design for the passenger (or big gulp drinkers) -- see the photo gallery for photos. The one surprise was that there was a good amount of leg room and headroom in the rear seats of the X1; a very welcomed surprise for anyone looking to bring some friends along on a trip.
Despite a smaller cargo area, the rear hatch is large and gives you good load in access. The rear seats fold to increase the carry capacity and can be locked in any number of positions to maximize the space. The down side of a large hatch is the effort to close the hatch is significant and anyone with an X3/X5 would certainly miss the the benefit from the power tailgate option. We are not surprised that the feature is left out on the entry level X1 but would hope it gets added in the next generation.
One of two US exclusive models this is the first time BMW has offered an "X" car in rear wheel drive only. BMW build this model based on feedback from warm climate BMW owners that like the elevated driving position of an SUV but don't need all wheel drive for inclement weather. The 'sDrive' RWD drive train is coupled to an 8 speed automatic and the turbo four cylinder N20 from the F30 328i. This variant of the X1 drives the most like a car and can really move. The base price starts at $31,545
The X1 xDrive 28i takes the same four cylinder turbo available in the sDrive and couples it to BMW's xDrive all wheel drive system and their 8 speed automatic. This car is going to be the most common X1 sold as the N20 motor really rockets the X1 along and the all wheel drive lets you take on the most inclement weather. Base price starts at a reasonable $33,245.
Another US exclusive model BMW knows how Americans like their 6 cylinders. The N55 found in the outgoing 335i E9x and the all new F30 335i is an amazing turbo 6 banger making 300 hp and 300 ft-lbs of torque. This X1 is all muscle and moves the sport activity vehicle from 0-16 in just 5.3 seconds. As with the F30 3 series many of the driving reviews feel the N20 powered 28i is a better value overall then the 35i drive, but test drive them both and decide for yourself. Base pricing on the 6 cylinder X1 is high as result of the bigger motor and starts at $39,345.
You have to hand it to BMW for making the X1 a really fun car to drive at an entry level price point. This Sport Activity Vehicle is significantly smaller and more agile than the competition while keeping a look that should appeal to potential buyers in the United States. In essence, the X1 seems to be a more elegantly designed hatchback that gives off that Sport Activity Vehicle impression which buyer's seem to want. Starting at only $31,545 for the sDrive model, we expect to be seeing a lot of X1s on the roads this fall.
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