BMW describes its subcompact X1 as a perfect blend of sports-sedan driving dynamics and SUV utility. That’s a pretty grand statement, but one of my driving experiences made me realize that statement is not all hyperbole.
By TOM STRONGMAN
One afternoon I ducked off the freeway onto a cloverleaf exit ramp at the last minute, carrying a decent amount of speed into the corner. It seemed like a good opportunity to gauge the X1’s cornering capability, so we set sail through the turn at a good clip.
It just so happens there was a Porsche Turbo in front of me. With the little Beemer scooting smartly through the turn, the Porsche must have thought I was challenging him. In a pique, he stomped the throttle, the Porsche wiggled slightly sideways and roared off into traffic.
After a few days with the X1, I decided it was really more of a sedan with a tall station wagon body than an SUV. Most crossover SUVs are used strictly as street vehicles so they might as well be designed to maximize on-road handling.
The X1 is available as the xDrive35i with a twin-turbo, 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine or as the sDrive28i or xDrive28i with a twin-turbo, 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The sDrive28i is rear-wheel drive while the xDrive28i is all-wheel drive. Prices range from $30,650 to $38,450.
I drove a loaded xDrive28i whose sticker price was $45,595.
The four-cylinder models are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. BMW says the sDrive28i hits 60 miles per hour in 6.2 seconds while all-wheel drive is one-tenth slower. Fuel economy is rated at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway.
The four-cylinder has an Auto-Stop feature that shuts the engine off when the vehicle stops. I appreciate the fuel saving of this feature, but I often turned it off because I didn’t like the hesitation of the engine starting before the car can move. The four-cylinder also has an Eco mode that changes the transmission’s shift characteristics as well as regulating electrical functions such as heating and climate control to conserve energy.
BMW says the direct-injection four-cylinder develops its maximum torque at just 1,250 rpm. It seemed to me that sprightly acceleration required a fairly deliberate stab at the throttle.
The X1’s interior was recognizably BMW, with great seats and simple gauges. The well-optioned test car was equipped with heated sports seats, heated steering wheel, rearview camera, navigation system, panoramic moonroof and Xenon headlights. While these items make the car comfortable and convenient, they added a hefty $13,000 to the bottom line.
The X1 has a long nose with a passenger compartment set toward the rear of the vehicle, a proportion that seemed a bit unbalanced for a utility vehicle. A split-folding rear seat is standard. The cargo compartment behind the second seat was fairly small, considering the vehicle’s 108.7-inch wheelbase.
The larger X3 is 6.5 inches longer and 5 inches taller than the X1.
Standard safety equipment includes vehicle stability control, anti-lock brakes, traction control and front, side and side-curtain airbags.
The base price of the test car was $32,350. Options included leather seats, 18-inch wheels, sports seats, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, rearview camera, Xenon headlights, keyless entry, panoramic sunroof, navigation system, satellite radio and power front seats. The sticker price was $45,595.
Four years or 50,000 miles, with a full maintenance program for four years or 50,000 miles.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.