Crossovers are in high demand and BMW has been a major player in the segment for over a decade with the entry-level, yet still highly capable, X1. A decade, full of tweaks and improvements, has given BMW ample time to shape the X1 platform, more specifically the xDrive25i model, into something unusual and highly sought after in the lineup in which it belongs; it’s fun and practical. No compromise.
The rejuvenated 2020 X1 features subtle styling changes that might be missed by the untrained eye. As with most new BMW’s the front kidney grilles have been pumped up to a rather large, gaping, proportion. In addition, the front facade features more agitated and stern looking bumper inlets, making for a gruff and down-to-business head-on view. Our test vehicle, a 2020 X1 xDrive25i, came outfitted with the optional M Sport Package, furthering the X1’s angry appearance. Also important to note is the 2020 X1’s inclusion of standard LED headlights, formed in a hexagonal rendition of BMW’s signature halo headlights, throwing a touch of modernity into the mix. When all is said and done, the 2020 X1 certainly does have a presence, just not one so significant that you won’t be able to find a suitably sized parking spot.
The interior of the 2020 X1 is where we see the least amount of tangible change, other than some new tech-related gizmos. While the internal changes to the new X1 aren’t exactly night and day, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone arguing against its elegance. Even the floor mats are made of velour. The very grip-able leather M Sport steering wheel beckons to be held during long or aggressive drives. While this is undoubtedly true for the flagship xDrive25i model, this spot of praise couldn’t be further from the truth in the base X1 sDrive118i model. I found myself wrangling with the steering wheel over uneven surfaces and during acceleration and braking. The seating position is another a highlight in the xDrive25i, as it is extremely driver-focused with aircon controls, central infotainment screen, and radio controls angled ever-so-slightly in the driver’s direction; A testament to BMW’s “Ultimate Driving Machine” claim. The standard onboard tech is also a joy and really speaks to the versatility of the X1, especially where safety is concerned. With standard parking assistance, rearview camera and dynamic cruise control, it is easy to see why the X1 would be a safe and comfortable family-hauler, even on lengthy trips.
Despite the more significant presence of the X1, it still retains a perfect 50/50 weight distribution that BMW touts in their gloriously-handling sedans. The result of this is a spacious 5-seater that can keep up with most sport-oriented sedans through the curves. In addition to the fun through the corners, the X1 also has a few more tricks up its sleeve. 170 kW and 350 Nm of torque are dispersed to all four wheels in a very clever way through BMW’s xDrive system, which electronically adjusts power to eliminate slip altogether. The result is a rather impressive 0 – 100 km/h time of 6.5 seconds, with the kids in the back. While testing the X1 xDrive25i model back to back with the base sDrive118i model, I came to realize how much the subtle upgrades of the xDrive25i made the sDrive118i uneventful and dull. Perhaps the most significant differences to performance were the upgraded brakes and 19” alloy wheels, which truly transformed the driving characteristics of the xDrive25i for the better. I couldn’t imagine owning the base sDrive118i after being spoiled like that.
With all of this high praise in the performance department, it would be easy to claim that the 2020 X1 must fail on the practicality front because, after all, what car is both fun and sensible? Remember what I said earlier though, the X1 xDrive25i is a no-compromise vehicle. It is almost difficult to describe how surprisingly roomy the X1 is inside. Even with an elevated seating position, there was still an abundance of headroom. Your backseat passengers won’t have to strike a yoga pose to sit comfortably in the rear seats either. It really isn’t the least bit claustrophobic. Perhaps the biggest instance of dedicated practicality comes with the rear seats. The 60:40 splitting rear seats are movable, sliding forward and back by 130mm, allowing for either more legroom for rear passengers or more space in the boot. Genius. The boot will have no issue in stowing a litany of sports equipment after a big game at 1662 litres.
So, in my opinion, seems that BMW have struck it right with an all-rounder fit for anyone searching for practicality with a spark. At $44,500 starting price for a 2020 X1, the base sDrive118i is on par or lesser than its competition in the ever-expanding crossover market. It isn’t until you arrive at $62,900 price-point for the infinitely superior xDrive25i model that purchasing a 2020 X1 becomes worth it. The 2020 BMW X1 xDrive25i is the new benchmark for an all-round vehicle. While a few other midsize crossovers might do practicality or enjoyment well, but one thing is for sure; You’ll definitely have to make some compromises with those.
By Amandeep Sethi