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BMW X1 sDrive 20i 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the 2016 BMW X1 sDrive 20i SUV with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the 2016 BMW X1 sDrive 20i SUV with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

BMW's first-generation X1 was a curious beast. Built on the skeleton of an old 3 Series wagon, it was Munich's answer to the "quick, we need a small SUV" problem. That meant rear-wheel drive as well as all-wheel drive, reasonable handling and a decidedly weird-looking car, even after a mid-life facelift.

The old 3 Series platform also meant a less-than optimal interior package and a soft look that simply didn't chime with the urban-warrior feel that premium SUV buyers were craving (although it was a handy enough seller).

The second-generation X1 is a far more convincing looking SUV, on a whole new platform and running a new set of engines.

Value

The F48 X1 range comes in front and all-wheel drive flavours, starting at $49,500 for the 18d, $56,500 for the 20d xDrive and ending up at $59,900 for the 25i XDrive. Just after that 18d comes the 20i sDrive, a 2.0-litre petrol turbo front-wheel-drive option for $51,600.

Standard equipment includes a power tailgate, LED headlights with high-beam assist, satnav, reversing camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, fake leather interior, five-speaker stereo with Bluetooth and USB, remote central locking and keyless start, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, auto parking, cruise control, cooled glovebox, auto headlights and wipers, power mirrors and windows, front and rear skid plates, tyre pressure sensors and BMW Connected Drive (which includes remote services and real-time traffic information).

Our car came with a modest suite of options – metallic paint at $1140 (there are only two free colours, black and white), panoramic glass sunroof at $1690 and DAB+ radio for $385, bringing the total to $54,815.

Design

Believe it or not, the new X1 is based on the new Mini. Nerds like me will spot a few shared bits, like the gear selector, but there's absolutely nothing to worry about because the Mini is an excellent platform and the X1 is considerably longer, taller and wider.

Incongruously, the reason it's based on the new Mini is to make it more SUV-like – the old one's 3 Series wagon platform meant it was too low and all the bits went the wrong way and were in the wrong places.

The F48 fits into the X3/X5 design language, with a more off-roady design and better proportions. The powerplant is now slung across the engine bay east-west, liberating plenty of cabin space by shortening the nose. The signature big lights for the X1 have stayed but are surrounded by more agreeable bumpers and bonnet, while the profile is more upright.

All the materials are good and even the fake leather does a better-than-passable impression of cow.

Inside is a big improvement too, with a more modern dash architecture and a more spacious feel. The dashtop screen is a bit silly looking because it's quite small, but it doesn't look too cheap.

The front seats look narrow but are comfortable once you're installed behind the wheel. You sit very high in the X1 - which will appeal to a huge number of people - and there's an enormous amount of glass giving you an expansive view out front.

Everything falls easily to hand and the big iDrive dial is most welcome on the centre console, although you sit so high above it that it almost feels like it's on the ground. All the materials are good and even the fake leather does a better-than-passable impression of cow.

It's a suitably lofty space in the back, even with the high-set seat. The flatter rear floor means more space for passenger's feet and there's a huge amount of legroom. The boot is bigger than the old car's at 505 litres, up from 420. Seats down, the capacity is a sturdy 200 litres larger at 1550 litres.

There's plenty of storage kicking around the cabin, with good sized door bins, a pair of cupholders for both front and rear passengers for a total of four, and the rear seats split 40/20/40.

Safety

Six airbags, ABS, traction and stability controls, corner braking control, forward collision mitigation (high and low speed) and lane-departure warning add up to a maximum EuroNCAP score of five stars. ANCAP testing is yet to happen.

Features

BMW's standard-setting iDrive features on the 6.5-inch dashtop screen, controlled with the larger version of the rotary-style controller. The five-speaker stereo is adequate for most ears, although there's a Harmon Kardon option for $1192 if you feel the need.

The satnav is very easy to setup and the voice recognition isn't bad at all.

Engine and transmission

BMW's modular engine architecture makes its X1 debut in 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo form, delivering 141kW and 280Nm. BMW says that with the eight-speed automatic transmission and just the front wheels driven, the X1 will reach 100km/h in 7.7 seconds and use a frugal 5.9L/100km on the combined cycle.

Handling is very secure and there's a surprising amount of grip from the Pirelli Cinturatos fitted to the standard 18-inch alloys.

The X1 is also fitted with regenerative braking and stop-start to help keep consumption down, and we saw 9.8L/100km in mostly city driving.

Towing capacity is rated to 750kg unbraked and 1800kg braked.

Driving

The X1 is a very different beast to its predecessor; in the old car, sDrive meant rear-wheel drive - supposedly the ethos the company is built upon - but in this one it's the front wheels that drag the car along. For most people this will mean absolutely nothing in day-to-day use.

Handling is very secure and there's a surprising amount of grip from the Pirelli Cinturatos fitted to the standard 18-inch alloys.

Progress is quiet and composed at all times, with just a distant rustle from the mirrors at speed.

The eight speed ZF is as good as ever but the 2.0-litre turbo four takes a bit of a breath before waking up, the only real blight on the driving experience.

Progress is quiet and composed at all times, with just a distant rustle from the mirrors at speed. Tyre noise is easily banished with the stereo on even quiet volume, which means a serene cabin most of the time, unless you're bouncing off the rev limiter. Even then, the engine is not overly shouty.

Verdict

The sDrive version of the X1 is a good pick if you don't need or want all-wheel drive or you'd rather save the cash to spend on the many and varied BMW options. With a huge cabin and particularly good space for rear passengers the X1 will carry families at most stages of life with a minimum of fuss. It's easy to drive, has plenty of safety features and should be reasonably economical to run. If you want more economy, get the 18d.

It's slightly more expensive than Audi's Q3 but is also a lot newer and bigger and delivers a good deal for families on the go who want the BMW badge.

Would you prefer an X1 to a Q3 or a GLA Class? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 BMW X1 sDrive 20i pricing and spec info.

Pricing Guides

$38,888
Based on 56 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$31,500
Highest Price
$44,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
sDrive 18d 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $31,500 – 39,950 2016 BMW X1 2016 sDrive 18d Pricing and Specs
sDrive 20i 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $32,977 – 44,900 2016 BMW X1 2016 sDrive 20i Pricing and Specs
xDrive 20d 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $34,980 – 41,950 2016 BMW X1 2016 xDrive 20d Pricing and Specs
xDrive 25i 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $38,881 – 44,323 2016 BMW X1 2016 xDrive 25i Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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