BMW has been making cars for over 100 years now. They started out with pretty conventional cars in their early days, but as the years progressed, BMW was proud of the fact that they built the ultimate driving machines. Once considered the best chassis engineering in the business, every BMW came on a RWD platform, even the little 1 Series hatchback over in Europe, which only came as a coupe in North America.
Recognizing the potential of a luxury SUV early on, BMW introduced their first-ever SUV, the X5, in 1999. To everyone’s surprise, it was an immediate success, and BMW’s gamble definitely paid off. The latest X5 really is a great SUV. Following the X5 was the smaller X3 in 2003, which went on to write a success story of its own. In the late 2000s, the subcompact crossover market was shifting into high gear, and BMW were among the first to join the party with the original X1 in 2009. In 2015, the second generation X1 debuted, and even though it moved to a FWD platform, the current generation X1 is still a very compelling small SUV.
Overview Of The 2021 X1
The BMW X1 is a subcompact luxury crossover SUV first introduced in 2009. The second-generation model came along in 2015, and received a facelift and update for the 2020 model year. The X1 faces competition from the likes of the Audi Q3, the Mercedes-Benz GLA, the Jaguar E-Pace, the Lexus UX, the Range Rover Evoque, and the excellent Volvo XC40.
The facelift brought along some new exterior styling features to refresh the X1. There’s a new set of headlights to bring it in line with other products in the BMW stable, both of them flanking a shiny new set of larger kidney grilles, and a new front fascia design. The side profile remains the same, whereas the rear end receives a new set of taillights. In North America, you can have the X1 as a more SUV-ish xLine, with decorative body cladding, or the sportier M Sport version, with painted bumpers and unique alloy wheel designs.
2021 X1 Powertrains And Drivetrains
In North America, the BMW X1 comes with only one powertrain choice. Dubbed the “28i,” it’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder unit with 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque at a lowly but handy 1,250 rpm. The base X1 sDrive28i is FWD only, but stepping up to the xDrive28i adds AWD. Whichever pairing you go for, there’s only one available transmission; BMW’s familiar eight-speed ZF automatic, which is smooth and very responsive when you need it to be. The FWD model will do 0-60 in 6.6 seconds, and the xDrive-equipped version completes the sprint in 6.3 seconds, both of them soldiering on to a limited top speed of 129 mph.
Don’t despair, even though the X1 comes on the same FWD platform as the Mini Cooper, it’s still a great little SUV to drive, as you’d expect from a BMW. The engine is responsive, torquey, and it has more than enough power to propel the not-exactly-huge X1 along. Thanks to the excellent chassis engineering, the X1 is pretty good in the corners too.
2021 X1 Comfort And Quality
Even though the facelift brought the X1 bang up to date on the exterior, the interior is definitely starting to look and feel its age. Even though it’s equipped with version 7.0 of iDrive, the latest BMW interior design is not present, and neither is the most recent version of BMW’s digital instrument cluster. There are a few cheap materials here and there, but then again, this car is quite cheap for a BMW, so it’s excused.
Like the X2 and the M2 Competition, the X1 gets a digital gauge cluster, even though the gauges come housed inside round black bezels. The latest version of iDrive, presented through an 8.8-inch screen, has SiriusXM radio capabilities as well as Apple CarPlay, but no Android Auto. A 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is available on the options list. Safety features are par for the course for a new premium SUV; adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, and all the like.
The X1 seats five passengers, and boasts 27.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up. Fold them down, through the excellent 40/20/40 split-folding system, and you get an excellent 58.7 cubic feet to play with.
2021 X1 Pricing And Launch
The 2021 BMW X1 is available to order as of September/October 2021, with the 2022 model on its way soon. The base sDrive28i xLine starts at $35,400. Upgrading to AWD in the xDrive28i costs $2,000 extra, bringing the price up to $37,400. If you want to step up to the xLine to the M Sport model, that will cost a pretty hefty $4,350 on both versions.
Even though the third generation X1 is on its way soon, the current generation BMW X1 is still an excellent small SUV. Between its decent practicality, fun driving dynamics, excellent engine and transmission, and decent tech, if you’re in the market for a small luxury crossover, the X1 is definitely worth a look.
Time to buckle up as this tiny SUV from the German automaker has the markings of an excellent vehicle.
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