ROAD TEST: 2016 BMW X1

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By Shari Prymak

BMW is a brand that has traditionally prioritized performance and driving dynamics above all else. The first generation X1, with its balanced, rear-wheel drive architecture and compact dimensions, was a good example of that. It even offered a beastly turbocharged, straight-6 engine that turned it into a genuine pocket rocket.

The new 2016 X1 is still a fun crossover to toss around, but there’s no doubt that the priorities have shifted somewhat. For one thing, the performance-oriented rear-wheel drive-based chassis is gone, replaced with an all-new front-wheel drive platform shared with Mini. Don’t let that Mini association fool you, the cabin of the X1 is positively spacious in ways that the old X1 could only dream of being. There’s plenty of room for four adults to sit comfortably, and a big trunk for many things. Best of all, the X1 makes an effort to maintain the fine handling ability that made a previous model such a joy to drive.

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The sole engine option is an all-new 2.0L, turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 228 horsepower and 258lb-ft of torque. It’s a smooth and potent power plant, and a fine match to the equally refined 8-speed automatic transmission. Perhaps best of all, it achieves impressive fuel economy figures of 10.7L/100km city and 7.4L/100km highway. I averaged 11.0L/100km during my week-long test drive, which is still impressive for an all-wheel drive-equipped crossover with this level of performance.

The X1 has a starting MSRP of $38,880. Standard features include heated, power-adjustable front seats, leatherette upholstery, backup camera, and adaptive LED headlights. Forget the steep $50,040 MSRP of my loaded up test car. The only option I would take would be the well-priced Premium Essential Package, which includes a panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, automatic trunk, comfort access, sport seats, and a few other touches, all for $2,950. Throw in a simple Garmin or TomTom for navigation duties, and you end up with a nicely-equipped BMW crossover for less than the price of a full-loaded Ford Escape.

As much as I liked the performance focus of the previous generation X1, I have to admit that this new one makes far more sense for those who expect their crossover to be spacious and practical, which I imagine is pretty much everyone. Mainstream crossovers, such as the Mazda CX-5 or Honda CR-V, offer better value for money, not to mention far more affordable servicing costs down the road. In the luxury segment of compact crossovers, however, the X1 is hard to top.

 

For more details, please visit the BMW Canada website.