By on February 8, 2016

2016 BMW X1 Exterior-008

When is a BMW not a BMW? Some would say: when it has four wheels. Others will say: when it’s front wheel drive. But here we are. BMW’s smallest crossover has ditched its BMW 3-Series roots for underpinnings shared with the Mini Countryman.

Say what?

Americans may be surprised to hear that the X1 is not BMW’s first front driver. Neither is it the last BMW with a transverse engine. Our European friends will soon be seeing the 2 Series Gran Tourer — a small 7-seat … minivan. Yes, a BMW minivan. What’s that sound, you ask? Minds blowing.

For purists, the notion of a trio of transverse-engined BMWs prowling around the countryside is an abomination; an affront to everything E46 M3 owners holds sacred.

For the rest of you? It’s no big deal. Seriously.

Exterior
The old X1 looked more wagon than crossover, because it was more wagon than crossover. BMW took an E91 3 Series and sent it to the School of Forester.

For 2016, the X1 has a more traditional crossover look with a taller profile and boxier dimensions, though it bucks the bigger-is-better ethos and loses a hair of length.

The classic, rear-wheel-drive proportions of the old X1 have been replaced with a much longer front overhang, a slightly larger rear overhang and shorter overall dimensions. While a close friend and BMW purist immediately noticed “something wrong” with the X1’s front end, the casual observer is unlikely to think it’s anything other than a 9/10ths-scale X3. That’s what BMW is betting on.

2016 BMW X1 Interior-006

Interior
In the same vein as the exterior, the X1’s interior is a variation of BMW theme. Our model wore optional wood trim and was illuminated with ambient lighting. Its instrument cluster is standard Bavarian fare. And its steering wheel apes those used by BMW’s larger crossovers.

Although the 2016 X1 isn’t as long as the outgoing model, you’ll actually find more room on the inside thanks to its space efficient, front-wheel-drive roots. BMW was able to further push the bounds of packaging effectiveness with the X1 as it no longer need to house a longitudinally mounted 3-liter inline-six under the hood. In addition to an improved seating position, you will find more headroom, legroom and cargo room in its cabin than before.

2016 BMW X1 Interior-003

Although BMW has taken pains to share as little as possible with its Mini brand, a few shared design areas shine through. The front seat bottom cushions are shorter than what you’ll typically find in a BMW and the seats lack the range of adjustability you’ll encounter in the Audi Q3 or larger BMW X3 crossover. The center console is lower to the ground than other BMWs, a design allowed by the transverse engine layout. Also, the X1 uses a Mini-esque traditional shifter instead of the BMW partsbin joystick.

2016 BMW X1 Interior-002
Infotainment
Base X1 models get a 6.5-inch iDrive screen (a larger screen is available) along with basic Bluetooth and USB/iDevice support. If you want features like voice control over your media library and smartphone app integration, those are found in the $2,250 Technology package bundled with navigation and a heads-up display. Adding satellite radio will set you back another $3,250 for the “Premium Package” that also adds dimming and folding mirrors, lumbar support, ambient lighting and LED headlamps. This is the area where a luxury car with a $35,000 base price starts looking like less and less of a deal compared to a loaded Buick. Although iDrive is the most expensive infotainment system in this small segment, the tasteful high-res graphics, fast interface and superior phone integration make this the system to beat.

2016 BMW X1 Engine

Drivetrain
“The X1 isn’t FWD, it’s AWD.” That’s the line my friend kept repeating when we were discussing his new X1. While that’s technically true in the USA, we need to dive deeper.

The only engine on offer is a new 2-liter turbo that makes a little less oomph than the 2015 engine. Power drops to 228 horsepower and torque remains essentially the same at 258 lbs-ft. The engine is still mated to an eight-speed transmission, but this time it’s a transverse unit from Aisin and not a longitudinal unit from ZF. The same basic transmission is found in Volvo’s new four-cylinder vehicles, the Lexus RX350 and even some versions of the Chevy Malibu.

The major difference between this car’s all-wheel-drive system and that of its predecessor should be obvious: this one is programmed to send 100 percent of the power to the front wheels as often as possible for increased efficiency. Unless there’s wheel slip, the X1 won’t ever send more than 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels, a very different dynamic than the previous X1. Despite the drivetrain change, fuel economy remains the same as before at 26 mpg combined.

2016 BMW X1 Interior-014

Drive
After driving the 2016 X1 and then snagging the keys to a CPO 2014 X1 from a local dealer, I realized that the biggest problem with the X1 isn’t the competition; it’s that the original X1 exists. If the 2013-2015 X1 had never been sold in the U.S., the story would be that BMW created a front-wheel-drive-biased crossover and it’s the BMW of sub-compact CUVs. Simple. But that earlier X1 does exist and, in 2013, I said this about it: “The X1 is more than just the least expensive BMW on the lot. It may well have the highest fun/dollar ratio of any modern BMW. It’s also one of the few vehicles I would actually buy if my money was on the line.” 

Let’s back up and talk about the X1 as if its predecessor had never existed.

The Aisin eight-speed automatic was a solid choice for BMW. First gear is low enough to give the X1 a 2.7-second 0-30 mph time and shifts are quick enough to allow the front-wheel-drive crossover a 6.8 second sprint to 60 mph. That’s the same 0-60 mph time we clocked in the GLA 250, only the X1’s transmission won’t drive you to tears in stop-and-go traffic like Mercedes’ herky-jerky DCT. (It is, however, about 0.5 seconds slower than BMW quotes on its website.) Audi’s Q3 also uses an Aisin unit, but it’s 2 cogs behind the X1. The older six-speed automatic and notably less powerful engine make the Q3 feel like a slug in comparison.

2016 BMW X1 Exterior-005

BMW shoes all X1 models with 225 width run-flat tires in an effort to save weight. Opt for the M-Sport trim and the tires don’t get any wider, but you can check the options box for summer rubber instead. Any way you slice it, the tires seem narrow when you visit the Audi dealer and notice most Q3 models wear 255/40R19 rubber. The tire choice means that the X1 falls toward the back of the pack when it comes to handling ability and stopping distance unless you’re comparing absolutely base trims where the BMW beats the Audi but falls behind the Merc.

I was concerned when I heard that BMW and Mini would be sharing platforms. Not because I was worried BMW would start putting their orange tachometer in the center of the dash, but because I’ve never cared for the ride in modern Minis. The Mini crossover’s suspension is too firm and easily becomes unsettled on broken pavement, but that didn’t happen with the X1. Instead, the ride is more composed and softer than the GLA, but not as soft as the Lincoln MKC.

2016 BMW X1 Exterior-002

Starting at $34,800, it may seem like the X1 is at a price disadvantage compared to the less expensive GLA 250 and Q3. Start looking at the features list, however, and the X1 is actually one of the better values. It’s less expensive than a comparable GLA, especially if you start adding options to the Mercedes. It’s a hair more expensive than the Q3, feature-for-feature, but it’s also about a second faster to 60 mph. BMW has made options available in the X1 that you just don’t find in the Q3 or GLA, such as a heads-up display and the same infotainment system seen on higher-end models. The result is just as you’d expect: a less expensive BMW that happens to be front-wheel drive.

If we circle back to the old X1, we can immediately see the problem. The old X1 was an inexpensive time machine going back to an E93 wagon but protected by a new car warranty. The current X1 is a compact suburban people mover with a trunk that can swallow a BBQ.

The X1 is the perfect example of an automotive enigma. It’s better in almost every metric than its predecessor, yet it’s less satisfying. The X1 is the baked potato chip of the compact crossover world. In truth, all the compact crossovers out there are healthy snacks, but the former X1 was the deep-fried, extra greasy, super salty chip that everyone secretly wanted. After all the scores were tallied, the X1 beats the GLA, which is too small to be practical and too unrefined to be a Mercedes, but falls behind the Q3, which is simply more fun on a winding mountain road.

The new X1 isn’t the guilty pleasure it once was. And that’s a pity.

BMW provided the vehicle for this review.

Specifications as tested:

0-30 mph: 2.7 seconds

0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds

1/4 mile: 14.9 seconds @ 94 mph

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

102 Comments on “2016 BMW X1 Review – The Un-BMW...”


  • avatar
    Quentin

    Are you sure this is shared with the Countryman and not the Hatch and Clubman? I thought the Countryman was still on an old platform while the Clubman was on the new UKL platform.

    I’ve driven a Clubman S with the 8AT. The chassis is MILES better than the Countryman S that I drove later that day, though the powertrains felt very similar despite being miles apart on paper.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      It’s a UKL2 platform car, which is shared with the 2 series active tourer, and the _upcoming_ countryman, not the current one. The Clubman is also a UKL2 vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      Exactly right. The X1 cannot and should not be compared to the Countryman, but only to the Clubman/Hardtop, as these are all F-series cars. The F60 Countryman won’t be out until this fall, or next year. The currently available Countryman is crap compared to the F-series models.

      All of the F-series MINIs ride nothing like second generation MINIs. They are are vastly improved!

      Alex should know this!

  • avatar
    dwford

    I think the old X1 looked “wrong.” The RWD proportions just don’t fit with what all other crossovers look like. I think that new BMW customer – likely coming from some sort of FWD vehicle or a FWD based crossover will find this BMW seems right. As for pricing, it will be interesting to see where the Buick Envision comes in, since the Encore tops out over $30k. How will the Envision (which looks very similar to the X1, though is a bit bigger) fare at a similar price point to the BMW?

    • 0 avatar
      Ltd1983

      +1 this. I was expecting this to look awkward from the description, but this new X1 looks much more like a small X5 than the old X1 ever did. The old X1 looked like a shoe with that long snout, this looks like a normal, premium CUV. Online fanbois will probably howl, but actual buyers will love it.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I can’t tell if the Envision is compact or mid-sized. If it’s the latter, it should fall firmly in the pricing territory of other premium crossovers, like the Nissan Murano and upper trims of the Ford Edge.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        It’s still between. It basically splits the size of the Escape and Edge. The Edge has four more inches of wheelbase and is five inches longer. The Murano is about the same size as the Edge (a bit longer with less wheelbase).

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Thanks, bball.

          That’s sort of where the Equinox and Terrain are now. They’re longer and roomier than most compact crossovers, but aren’t properly mid-sized.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’d have to go back to make a more coherent argument, but it seems your written pieces have become more in depth over time. Many with a refined palette can drive an automobile and put some ideas on paper, what I am seeing here is quite sophisticated with a fair amount of detail. Kudos, Alex.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I agree, 28. Alex’s level of polish as a writer is catching up to the skill and passion he always displayed as a tester/reporter. Like Michael Karesh before him, he’s grown up before our eyes from an aspirant to a professional. My compliments.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      I on the other hand find this review only fair, continuing Mr Dykes rather authoritatively written, but not particularly comprehensive style.

      It makes one monumental error – the engine is not a detuned version of last year’s N20 engine, it is an uprated version of the new B48 modular engine used in the MINI, where it is rated at 189 hp. Completely different engine, different bore and stroke. Also available in 3 cylinder form in the i8 and MINI, while the new 340i has the six cylinder B58 version of this design.

      http://www.bmwblog.com/2014/05/21/bmw-modular-engines-b37-b38-b47-b48/

      Also, since X Drive is but a single slipping multi-plate clutch like the standard Subaru AWD system, I fail to see how this new version is different from the old one. It has merely turned 90 degrees to fit the transverse engine.

      I happened to buy a March C/D yesterday, and it actually tells you how the car handles, and about the too narrow front seats. They also discuss the suspension, which in optional M Sport trim indeed does have a flinty ride: “.. you feel bumps you can’t even see. Those you do hurt even more.” And so on, “front drive gremlins emerge at the handling limit”.

      They also test the new MINI Clubman, the same UKL2 car underneath.

      Noice interior though. Will lease by the bucketload to the average badge snob, especially if it’s about 3 dollars cheaper than the 320i per month.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Excellent post with fair points and honest feedback.

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        The difference is the old X1 that was on a rwd platform would then barely drive the front wheels, instead of vice versa.

        Also to the article, the 2-series Grand Tourer is already on sale, I’ve seen them on the road although they may have been the slightly-shorter (6-8″?) 5-seat version.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Nice 1 series wagon ya got there.

    • 0 avatar
      outback_ute

      No connection to the 1-series any more, until they make that fwd too. Begs the question what will happen to the 2-series. The coupe 2-series that is, no the minivan 2-series…

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        2 Series is supposed to stay RWD based. The upcoming 1-series sedan will be on the FWD platform. Makes sense, the sedan needs to be roomier to be practical at that size. There is probably also going to be a 4dr 2-series Gran Coupe on the RWD platform. Because why not?

        The 2-series Active Tourer is really the oddball. Unless they are planning a SMALLER 1-series Active Tourer or something.

        • 0 avatar
          outback_ute

          The 1-series is currently hatch-only, and a 2-series GC seems like it would be more upmarket than the Audi A3 or CLA but you never know. Between all these models they would have to have all bases covered unless they invent a few more! Mind you I can’t understand how they ended up with the 4GC, 3GT and X4 to have 3 flavors of 4-door fastbacks, it seems pretty redundant.

          Surely the 1-series Active Tourer would have to be the Mini Clubman or Countryman? Otherwise they will be getting into range overlap territory and I don’t think BMW needs to compete with itself.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            3GT, 4GC, and X4 are pretty different cars, other than that they all do happen to have a hatch. Load-lugger hatch, swoopy coupy hatch, and goofy jacked up coupe/CUV. The X4/X6 are silly, but they are first class profit spinners given they cost about nothing extra to build, and sell for a stiff premium over the X3/X5.

            There is a large price gap between the MINI Countryman and the BMW X1 that are on the same platform. I would expect that to be the same for any MINI/BMW pairings.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Sad from a long-time BMW fan that it went front wheel drive, but from a sales standpoint, precious few who buy the new X1 will know (or care about) the difference in drive wheels. The outgoing X1 is our “wish list” puppy hauler. We test-drove one a few years back and (other than being offered in only automatic trans) we really enjoyed it. Maybe when the old Lancer Sportback finally retires, we’ll look at a decent used variant of the properly-driven variety.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I care about drive wheels. I’ve been able to do some winter driveiffs with several vehicles, and my results are:

      RWD: bad
      FWD: good
      AWD: slightly better

      These results are in my particular conditions for my particular needs.

      It’s also worth noting that TCS is important for FWD cars, because steering authority is greatly reduced if you pop the wheels loose while accelerating on a slippery surface. TCS can reduce the chance of that happening, and it helps if you accidentally over-control to go-pedal.

      Back in my manual-shift days, a swift kick to the clutch was a 60% solution to what TCS does, but the modern electronic system is better at that than I am — and has the advantage of working when I’m not in the car.

      Anyway, I care a lot about drive wheels. I just have found through my own testing that RWD is inferior in the conditions I encounter.

      Since I don’t have any special preference for the BMW brand, I find a car like the RAV4 (or the HR-V?) would be better for my purposes. This review has convinced me that the new X1 has fewer disadvantages than most BMWs, though.

  • avatar
    EX35

    LOL at buying a FWD BMW. No thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      The Ultimate Soccer Mom machine? This reeks of giving up on the corporate message and instead just building something because everyone else is doing it. Imagine being hired as an engineer for BMW, then learning your on the X1 team. Hopefully they keep the sharp objects locked up.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        I can tell you’re not an engineer. Thomas Pynchon described the reality of design engineering best:

        “In school they got brainwashed… into believing the myth of the American inventor – Morse and his telegraph, Bell and his telephone, Edison and his lightbulb… only one man per invention. Then when they grew up they found they had to sign over all their rights to a monster like Yoyodyne; got stuck on some “project” or “task force” or “team” and started being ground into anonymity.

        Nobody wanted them to invent – only to perform their little role in a design ritual, already set down for them in some procedure handbook.”

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Nice post. FWIW I believe this sort of behavior happens for a number of reasons but the primary of which is the true inventor is simply an outlier. If a greater percentage of engineers were brilliant along the lines of Tesla, Edison, or Morse, more of them would simply break free from the paradigm and invent. This is not to say a engineer in a niche isn’t brilliant, but they seem to lack the whole picture for whatever reason.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            The truth about this world is that rhetoric trumps genius and it isn’t even close.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “They” don’t lack the “whole” picture, so much as what they work on is hard. Enough so, that babysteps are achievements in and of themselves.

            The problems are also hard enough that the only place “one great engineer” invents something major in isolation, is is marketing materials, aimed at people suffering permanent damage from overexposure to cheesy McGyver episodes.

            300 years ago, a lone scientist and/or inventor may have “seen further by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Since WW2, most fields have been sufficiently stripmined of low hanging fruit, that a better analogy is being a great engineer is like the ant on top of an anthill.

            Pynchon was/(is?) a writer. He’s entitled to be a bit of a romantic. Reality, not so much.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            I disagree.

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          “Thomas Pynchon described the reality of design engineering best”

          Maybe if you join a Fortune 500 company, sure. But that’s a problem with large organizations, not a problem with the reality of engineering. You come work for my tiny simulator company and you’ll get a chance to invent.

          Of course, you’ll never know for sure whether anyone will have jobs in two years. That’s the price you pay. But you do have a *choice*.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I mourned the death of the BMW that I cared about long ago. They stopped making good cars over a decade ago, and they stopped making them well long before that.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      MINI proved a FWD BMW isn’t an unreasonable proposition.

      Mind you, I’m not expecting much the way things have been going with BMW, but driving the proper wheels won’t change much.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    Despite being significantly improved I’d actually prefer to own a nicely layered Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5. Both have a more earnest mission and cost, and don’t come with a slight odour of pretend BMW like the X1 will always have.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Cool.. an HR-V that costs more and breaks.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      If an HR-V did 0-60 in 6 and change, I’d be happy to agree with your assessment. In addition, the BMW’s interior is fantastic, while the Honda’s is clearly that of a $25K car. Not bad, but just livable.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        The X1 is competing with the XC60 and Q3, yes – not the HR-V.

        • 0 avatar
          Alfisti

          XC60?? Not even close. I have been buying and shopping in this market for a few years, here is the run down ….

          SMALL:
          X1
          Q3
          GLA

          SMALL/MEDIUM:
          X3
          Q5
          MKC
          NX
          XC60
          RDX

          BIGGER:
          X5
          Q7
          MKX
          RX
          XC90
          MDX

          Now these are not black and white, the RX for e.g. sits “3/4” of the way between group 2 and 3 whilst the XC90 and Q7 are a touch bigger than more of group 3 but not big enough to jump to the next class.

      • 0 avatar
        [email protected]

        “the BMW’s interior is fantastic”

        Sorry, I can’t get past that photo of wear clearly visible on a driver’s seat that can only be a few months old.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The interiors in the BMWs I’ve been in are nice, but not thousands if dollars nice.

        Would I pay $10k for that level of nice in a living room furniture? Nope. Would I drive a BMW any faster than I drive my Toyotas? Also nope.

        Aldo, the interior design that makes it.look like someone chucked an iPad on the dashboard doesn’t do anything for me, since I actually chuck an iPad on the dashboard of my existing car.

        • 0 avatar
          dolorean

          “Would I pay $10k for that level of nice in a living room furniture? Nope. Would I drive a BMW any faster than I drive my Toyotas? Also nope.”

          I’d say you haven’t honestly compared the two. It’s the difference between driving luxury sport and a Maytag.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            “I’d say you haven’t honestly compared the two. It’s the difference between driving luxury sport and a Maytag.”

            I’ve ridden in a half a dozen BMWs (including most recently a X5 plugin hybrid), and I just don’t get what the hype is about.

            The cars just appear to be more expensive and less useful than what I already have. They’re niche vehicles, and I’m not in the niche.

            The BMWs I’ve had the most exposure to (the X5, the Z3, and the 3-series) just are not optimized for the things I care about. For instance, fuel efficiency and reliability are both average-at-best. The interiors are nice, but I’ve been up and down the SES ladder so often that luxury is neither novel nor satisfying to me personally. As for handling and, I’ll start caring when I move off of the plains. And that’s before we even get to the price difference. Just like othe cars, BMWs come with lots of tradeoffs – and those tradeoffs are mostly disadvantages for me personally. This, combined with the sales numbers, means that BMWs are pretty much the definition of a niche vehicle — though the X1 reviewed here may have wider appeal due to its more conventional attributes.

            Its just annoying that some people assume BMW makes the greatest cars ever. They make nice-ish cars which cater to a niche, but which trade utility, reliability, and efficiency for speed and “luxury” (whatever that means). That’s cool and it should exist — but don’t conflate “I like it more” with “better”.

            I’ll keep my Toyotas and a few dozen grand in my bank account, thanks.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            You are obviously not a BMW buyer, just as I am not a Toyota driver. Luckily, both makes exist to keep us happy.

            As I have long said, if you don’t appreciate why a 3-series costs $10K more than a Camry, enjoy your Camry and spend the $10K on whatever floats your boat.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Speaking of breaking… it’s important to know if the transmission fluid and filter can be changed, or is it a [rather short] “lifetime” unit?
      Also, is there a real dipstick, or an electronic oil level sensor? If it’s a sensor, that’s just one more part that can break, with catastrophic results. Not only that, being able to see the color of the oil is pretty important, especially if you’re suspecting a head gasket issue or something similar.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Well, you probably won’t need to service the transmission or do any gasket work during the lease period.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        BMW has long backed off on “lifetime fill”. They now say 100K miles. Even when they did say lifetime fill, there were drain and fill plugs and a changeable filter.

        Can we please get off the dipstick thing already? It is pointless on a car that has an oil quantity sensor, an oil quality sensor, AND a computer algorithm setting change intervals based on how the car is driven. How the oil looks and feels is irrelevant. It looks black and oily after a thousand miles.

        I am astounded you haven’t brought up the lack of a coolant gauge, the other BMW pet whine of idiots. Another completely pointless thing in vehicles that vary engine temperature based on conditions.

  • avatar
    benders

    “If we circle back to the old X1, we can immediately see the problem. The old X1 was an inexpensive time machine going back to an E93 wagon but protected by a new car warranty. The current X1 is a compact suburban people mover with a trunk that can swallow a BBQ.”

    And just like all the ‘soft’ Porsche crossovers lamented by the automotive press, they’ll sell boatloads because the buyers of CUVs don’t care that it’s not as much fun as the old one; they care that it has a BMW badge.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      But those badge didn’t gain their status, on account of BMW and P building exactly what everyone else is building, and just charging more for it.

      You can mild a reputation for awhile, but sooner or later you’ll be Cadillac. Thinking selling overpriced handbags to overaged huffies, sound like a better business plan than staying in the field and niche you once dominated.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        But does that niche exist anymore?

        Volvo used to have safety, now everyone has safety.

        You can get leather, a sunroof, and a sport suspension in the higher trim levels of lots of midrange vehicles.

        Lots of other companies make big ostentatious SUVs. Cadillac’s niche is gone, so all they’ve got are handbags and the tatters of a “lifestyle” brand.

        I’ll leave the question of whether this has happened to BMW yet as a topic of debate.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          The niche, and niches in general, still exists. Serving it/them, though, implies asking your target audience(s) to make (an) explicit sacrifice(s). As Toyota is doing with the Prius. You get to be green and save on gas, but pay for it by accepting less performance per dollar in other areas.

          For BMW, it would amount to letting people have RWD, good dynamic properties and a manual, even if doing so means accepting less interior space, less ground clearance, worse ease of ingress/egress and a stiffer ride. Even if aiming at “everybody” may seem like serving a bigger market, competition very often ensures it becomes a less predictably profitable one.

          There is a marketing truism that states it is much cheaper to retain an existing customer, than to acquire a new one. BMW already had the “performance minded” demographic locked in. Chasing possible new demographics, when done to the point of alienating their existing one, is at best, a risky strategy.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    As with all recent BMWs the interior looks utilitarian, functional, and cheap. BMW has lost the advantage on sportiness but is still not competing on luxury. Those seats look almost exactly like the ones in my last-gen Subaru Forester. For this money I’d buy a MKC first; at least the seats are comfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I don’t really recall BMW ever having luxury interiors. They’ve always been functional including the M6 Gran Coupe I spied at the car show.

      But, like you said, if they’re going to soften their driving dynamics to appeal to a different buyer, they might want to provide a more luxurious interior.

      For the record, I’m fine with an interior that uses quality materials and is screwed together properly. I don’t really need the plushness but I wouldn’t kick one from an Audi S7 out of bed.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      I haven’t sat inside of this X1, but I have been inside of a 2 series Active Tourer (with nearly the exact same interior), and while it is spartan, I would definitely consider it luxurious. I’d rather be there in the same way I find an Eames lounge a far better place than a La-Z-Boy.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        As someone who owned an Eames lounge chair/ottoman and currently owns a La-Z-Boy, the Eames does look way better. However, the La-Z-Boy is better for many things that are important to me in a chair.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I test drove a 2015 X1, and I found the interior perfectly comparable with Audi, Mercedes, and Volvo in general quality.

        (Those being the comparable things I also test drove; all of them beat the Honda I tried.)

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Agreed, dal. The MKC is a step larger, but for similar money. If I had a luxury FWD small crossover, itd be an MKC. I saw one in traffic the other day. Very handsome IMO.

  • avatar
    Der_Kommissar

    When looking for a replacement for my e90 328, I had my heart set on a CPO sDrive X1, but I let my sensible side talk me out of the never ending repair costs it would have saddled my family with. About 6 months into my Madza 3s, I should have shot my sensible side. The old X1 was a unique vehicle that we may never see again. In retrospect, it would have been worth the cost to maintain until I died.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      How did your 328i hold up?

      I believe Bark and the commentariat mentioned something about settling.

      • 0 avatar
        Der_Kommissar

        Lots of expensive repairs under CPO program (about three oil leaks from the valve gasket, two rear diff leaks, valve ticking that needed all new lifters and head, you know. Usual stuff). Above $2000 in the two years after. Kept it to 125k miles. Water pump was about to go and the battery would drain if left overnight under 30 degrees without a tender (and I’d already replaced the battery). Screen on radio was flaking out, auto wipers were no longer auto- lots of small things that you let go when you like to get out of a BMW dealer for less than $500 a visit. Indy shops would end up to be $450- not enough savings to cover the lack of a loaner. Valve gasket was bound to leak again.

        And yet Bark was right- X1 was my compromise. I settled under that. Don’t get me wrong- the Mazda 3 handles great and power wise is pretty equal to the 328, but the ride quality/handling trade off is markedly worse and nothing else is rear wheel drive. It’s a great car form what it is- I just expected it to be something it’s not.

  • avatar
    vvk

    > E93 wagon

    You may want to correct it.

  • avatar
    319583076

    My wife and I recently shopped this segment. She’s been driving a MINI Convertible since 2007, but it was time to expand/upgrade. We drove the CLA, 2015 X1, 2016 X1, and the MINI Countryman. OF those 4, she liked the 2015 X1 the best (I did, too). But our local BMW dealer wasn’t interested in making anything resembling a deal.

    We bought a CPO GLK and we couldn’t be happier.

  • avatar
    fvfvsix

    I have to say that I like what this new X1 brings to the table. BMW makes some of the best volume production motors, whether they’re stuffed in the engine bay the right way or not. It’s got enough power, handles well enough, doesn’t cost X3 money, and is nearly as big inside. Looks like a perfect road trip car for a small family.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    We have the previous model and test drove the new one. The new one appeals to us as the old one is monumentally space inefficient. The boot (trunk) holds a small pack of cigarettes and not much more.

    It IS a hoot to drive but the tranny and engine are very agricultural for the bmw badge, harsh shifts, tractor like engine sounds.

    So the new one, with nav, parking camera/sensors and roof is a monumental $739 a month!!!! I laughed in the dealership, literally laughed.

    I can drive off in the less sporty but more luxurious and far more roomy mkc for far less than that, i mean its Q5 territory which is a half size up from the x1.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      $739?!?!?!?!?!

      For that much I could roll correct in a Navigator or Yukon.

      • 0 avatar
        Alfisti

        I am in Canada remember, but even here, that’s high, very high. He asked why i was laughing but I just could not control myself and i flat out told him that Audi will lease me a loaded Q5 for that money.

        I am paying $525 for an absolutely stripped down 2012 X1 right now. FWIW my numbers are always “all in”, no +taxes or whatever else you guys like to tack on here.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          If I quote numbers, which I do from time to time, I try to make it “all-in”. I also try to quote lease prices that are $0 down. Sometimes that is difficult because prices in the US may vary by county.

          I was at the Lincoln dealership a couple weeks ago and a Navigator was basically $600-$650/month with nothing down.

          • 0 avatar
            eamiller

            Or you could get a fully loaded (including 20 way massaging seats and 19 speaker Revel audio system) 2016 MKX for under $600/mo lease according to Lincoln’s website (assuming you do a bit of cap cost dealing, which shouldn’t be too hard at any Lincoln dealer). Bigger and considerably faster than the X1.

  • avatar
    Scuttle

    I rented the diesel awd version during a 10 day 1000 mile holiday trip across Scotland and it was the perfect vehicle for that situation. If only BMW would sell the diesel version stateside I think it is a much better drive train.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    The old x1 was a POS. Something Alex left out the comparison. My wife and I went to check out the 2015 x1. The passenger inside door handle and sun visor literally fell off. The salesman just said yeah. They are working on the sun visors. Then tried to get us into the x3. This new X1 actually looks like an suv. Not just a sport wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      “This new X1 actually looks like an suv. Not just a sport wagon.”

      Eh.., and that’s a positive? Who the heck wants their BMW, out of all cars, to be a FWD SUV with a slushbox? What is the world coming to?

  • avatar
    seth1065

    if I was in the market for type of CUV I would go w the Audi for no other reason that This has Run flats tires and I think the Audi has normal tires.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    While I agree that this pales in comparison to its predecessor, I’d also suggest that the market won’t care a bit. there was a study that said that a significant portion of E82 1 series buyers didn’t know their car was RWD. All the yuppies turning in their old lease for a new $399/month one will notice is the extra space and the fact that they no longer have the “outdated” one. BMW is selling their cars on the basis of the brand, not the vehicles.

  • avatar

    My e46 sport is quite unhappy. I showed it this article and it refused to discuss it with me. I’m sure it won’t say hello if parked next to one.

    I am also sure that it is about six minutes till I see one, two, sixteen, thirty two, then a thousand here in the leafy green burbs in Westchester.

    Once Porsche decided to build a sport utility. Purists cringed. Porsche made a lot of money. Somehow, they didn’t screw up the Boxster, Cayman, or 911.

    BMW has softened the whole line. You can get a sport oriented BMW, but it isn’t default, like it used to be. The typical 3 series is an Accord with a badge. This isn’t to slight the Accord but they aren’t charging 50k for the Accord, either.

    Since 97% of the BMW’s in my area are manager specials, meaning “premium package, leather, automatic trans” I am sure there will be a line at the dealer and ADP stickers on these “BMW” Cars.

    My e46 and I gag….the shark has officially been jumped, the M2 notwithstanding.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      @speedlaw – I feel your pain. I’m a former e46 owner and I miss that car terribly. Unlike my car, which was something I dreamed to own when I was in high school and it was new, I don’t long for any of the new BMWs really, except maybe a M235i. Is a 335i really worth more than double the price of a Mazda 6? I would’ve said yes about an e46 330i vs the contemporary 6. So good was the 330i that it was all the car I needed and I would’ve rather had it than the Mazda 6 with say a used Boxster or Z3. The 330i was the 4 door sports car that doubled as a family commuter. Now? I no longer see the F30 as a 4 door sports car. I think I’d be more likely to spend $25k on the Mazda and put the other $25k towards the used sports car (or a new Miata for that matter).

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Same as it has always been. The 318i, 325e and 528e were hardly epic driver’s machines. Neither is a base model e36 or e46. funny how people seem to don rose-colored glasses around here.

      BMW has long built cars from boring to wild, no different than now. Want wild, get an M235i or M2/M3/M4 etc. This is Mom’s BMW, the modern equivalent to my Mother’s dull as dishwater 528e automatic. Nothing wrong with that.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        I6, MT, RWD, 50% rear weight, low hip point, long hood short deck…. It wasn’t “wildness” that made Bimmers lovable, and their customers loyal, any more than ditto for the Miata.

        Anyone can stuff a big engine and fit stiff springs and wheels with tiny rubber strips painted on them, into/onto something deemed a “halo” car. Bimmer used to sweat the basics, to cater to people who cared about the dynamic experience of driving a daily driver.

        Mazda still does in the Miata (and honestly, currently more so than BMW even in their less exalted models). BMW no longer does. Even Cadillac and Lexus build the occasional “Wild” car. It’s the focus of the bread and butter models, that define the brand.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          There was nothing remotely dynamic about an e28 528e. We had one in the family for 250K miles. It was a nicer German Buick. Just like the current 528i. And the majority of e28s built had *4* cylinder engines, just like the majority of 3-series ever built. The BMW headquarters building is modeled on a 4 cylinder, not a 6.

          I really like the new X1. It uses the good points of FWD to it’s advantage, while still being quite good to drive. The previous X1 was a the result of ruining a great car, the e91 3-series wagon. The X1 is worse in every way. Slower, less spacious, less well built, jacked up so doesn’t handle as well, less attractive.

          Ultimately, I have no problem with the smallest BMWs being FWD. RWD doesn’t make a lot of sense in anything smaller than a 3-series, and BMW has long proved with MINI that they know how to build great driving FWD cars. BMW could not stay a <1M car per year manufacturer and survive, they had to grow and diversify, like it or not. There just are not enough enthusiasts pining for e30 325is to support a business.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            I don’t know what to say. I’ve driven E28s, and they were a far, far cry from similar era Buicks. For both better and worse, I suppose. It’s possibly a bit of rose coloring on my part, but I found them more memorable than even the E60s. Much more so than even the M5 trim of the F10, which is merely impressive, not charming at all. Compared to those new-new things, the E28s were slower, but with more sidewall, less weight and much more intuitive road feel. Buicks they were not. Did they sell any of them in North America with 4s?

            I haven’t even driven the New X1, so have no idea if I “like” it. But as a step towards abandoning BMW’s traditional values, it is a new low point for the brand. Even more so than at least the first generation Mini, which for all it’s cute, was a fairly uncompromised “drivers” car. Even if the X1 is a great car, anyone can build a great car. And for plenty less, and with better reliability, than BMW.

            BMW’s markups and occasional glitch forgiveness, have historically been enabled by certain intangibles. One of them being the traditional FR layout, driver focused proportions, engines that are uncannily pleasant to use across the band, and a demand that the customer “pays his dues” by accepting less of some non-BMWish qualities, in exchange for more of BMWish ones. Abandoning that, in favor of betting their future on simply being able to perpetually build what everyone else builds, just sufficiently better to charge 50% more than everyone else does, strikes me as a serious bout of cocaine grade overconfidence.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The 533i and 535i were certainly much more driver’s cars. The 528e was for your Mom, especially in slushbox form. A boring, slow, comfortable respectable but unexciting car. Very much the niche enjoyed by Buick. I had two 5spd 535i’s. MUCH more interesting, and a lot more fun. What a difference a 50% power boost, firmer suspension, better brakes and a stickshift made. Then there were the 535is and M5…

            No, BMW never sold 4 cylinder e28s here. But they sold tons of them everywhere else.

            BMW’s “values” are the same as they have always been – sell more cars.

            As I say whenever the whining starts about BMW losing the plot, people have been saying the EXACT same things ever since the e21 320i replaced the 2002 waaay back in ’77. “Too soft, too big, too heavy, too numb, blah, blah, blah, blah”. And yet they sell more of them every year, and every new generation. If they have to sell a crapload of boring CUVs so that they can afford to make a few M235is and M2s, that is perfectly fine with me.

            FWIW, I have driven the new X1 and while it is nothing I would ever buy, I think it is perfectly fine as the BMW of small CUVs. It is a quantum leap over the old X1 in terms of usefulness. Which IS the point of this sort of thing.

            I would actually get excited about a Mini Clubman in BMW clothing. I like the size and the way they drive, but the Mini interior is silly, and the Mini esthetic doesn’t do much for me either. Though If something were to happen to my 328!, a Clubman would be the obvious new-car replacement.

          • 0 avatar
            outback_ute

            “RWD doesn’t make a lot of sense in anything smaller than a 3-series”

            The old 3-series or the new 3-series that is about the size the 5-series used to be? If they ditch the (only remaining?) small rwd platform I wonder if the 2-series coupe will go too?

            I like the old E30 size, ‘occasional’ rear seats work for me and I’d rather rwd than 2″ more legroom back there.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The first four generations of 3-series had back seat that were really only suitable for medium size children. My 2011 is marginal at best for adults, the current generation is comfortable for four full-size adults. FWD allows you to get that amount of space in a smaller car.

            By today’s standards, an e39 and prior 5-series is a small cramped car.

            The 2-series coupe is based on the current 3-series platform and is not NEARLY as small as you think it is. My M235i is noticeably larger in every direction but length than the e91 328i it sits next to in the garage. The back seat in that “little coupe” is just about as large as in the 328i other than headroom.

            What happened is simply that cars shrank from the 60s to the 80s, then started growing again across the board. Why would you want something as tiny inside as an e21 3-series these days?? Modern technology ensures that big fat cars go fast, go around corners, and get better gas mileage doing it than the old tin boxes did. The good old days are right now.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “BMW’s “values” are the same as they have always been – sell more cars.”

            If so, they have already ceased to be any different than GM, or any number of other makes dipping up and down around the break even line, depending on worldwide macro conditions and little else.

            Even with their recent SUV focus, P at least seem to retain some adherence to the alternate strategy, of only selling as many cars as it can get away with selling at very comfortable markups.

            In a world where there is a capacity glut of “everything”, dominance of a profitable niche, is a terrible thing to walk away from. Even when doing so, can help temporarily boost top line sales.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Whatever. BMW is hugely profitable, because they make hugely desirable vehicles and can get a premium price for them. If they are not desirable to you, buy something else. Plenty of choices out there.

            Cars are simply too expensive to design and build today to be a boutique car maker in the relative mass market. BMW is probably as small as is commercially viable (at ~2M per year), and even they buy in as much as they can, share as much between models as they can, and are looking for joint platforms with other makers where they can.

          • 0 avatar
            outback_ute

            I made that very same observation the first time I saw a 2-series coupe.

            At a track day last year there was a guy with a hotted up (around 380hp) 135i coupe that I thought was a good package. I’m sure the rear seat would fit shorter people for short trips (around town not cross country) acceptably, worth the compromise for rwd driving dynamics.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “As I say whenever the whining starts about BMW losing the plot, people have been saying the EXACT same things ever since the e21 320i replaced the 2002 waaay back in ’77.”

      I was thinking this too. But then I’ve also been (for some stupid reason) reading random car reviews from various time periods, and if you go back to the mid 90s, you *do* see a lot of guys saying, “Man, BMW is just freaking fantastic, we’re living in a golden age here!”. So it’s not just rose-colored glasses; it *does* seem like there have been times where people specifically noticed the driving dynamics of BMWs and got excited about it, and it also seems like that time hasn’t been for a while now…

  • avatar

    I know this meme is tiresome to everyone, but the e46 hit the curves of tight and fun/livable in the real world. Caddy didn’t copy and reference this model by accident. Even the ZHP could have used HP…when I drove an E90 M3 I realized the V8 I’d dreamed of in this car was finally realized.

    Electric steering and re jiggering the F30 for ride over handling were the death points. I’d read of e46 M3 cars being returned for ‘riding rough’ and I’m sure someone in BMW took that to heart. This class of car buyer won’t put up with any perceived slight-the opposite of the locked in Sentra buyer with a five year note.

    My fellow BMW clubbers are still hardcore, and have no cross current with the guy in the silver automatic 320 i lease. Still, the company has let loose the mooring, and are like GM now.

    They CAN build a great car.
    They are building great cars.
    They are also building a lot of crap…..BMW is now GM
    A car for every purse and purpose, in the affluent suburbs and beyond.

    Kills me to say that about the Werke….

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    Just wondering where all the outrage is over this car’s roots and being FWD (based).

    There were so many vile and hateful posts on the Lincoln MKC review, calling it an “overpriced rebadged Escape”. Well, BMW did about as much to the MINI platform as Ford did in designing the MKC with the Escape as a starting point, yet now its okay. The MKC has differences just like this does compared to the MINI. The Escape is one of the best (and best-selling) vehicles in its class, so its not as though Ford’s starting point was the problem, either.

    I just find it funny that so many were b¡Г€#in about the MKC, but only a few thus far have expressed any negative feelings about this car’s underpinings, and they werent even that critical, as in picking apart little meaningless details to “prove” their hatred is justified.

    I said it then, and this comment section proves it perfectly: If most Lincolns (MKC, MKX, MKZ, Continental) had a European or Japanese badge on them, most of those complaining the loudest would be singing their praises instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Because that was a Lincoln and Lincoln meant something good once upon a time. The Continental that was so Americana that Kennedy was shot in one! The Mark V. The 2nd generation Town Car. Maybe even the Mark VIII. The expectation of living up to that badge again is long dead but there’s still the hope and polishing a cheap Ford cute ute isn’t it.

      A BMW that’s a Mini or an Acura that’s a Honda isn’t letting anyone down because disposable foreign cars for yuppies and hair dressers weren’t anything to get up about in the first place.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    @ Alex:

    It’d be helpful to know what the as-tested price of the cars you review are. In this case, the X1 may START at $35,000, but include leather, nav and a sunroof – pretty much de rigeur for this kind of car – and now you’re looking at $45,000 or so.

    Meanwhile, a CX5 – the other choice in this segment that has sporty aspirations – is $32,000 similarly equipped.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Not much point in using wood trim if it’s the exact same color as grey plastic.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      For the new era Bimmerphile, it is important above all, to be grippin’ on woodgrain.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I don’t think that is the wood trim option in the pictures. The fineline wood is pretty much the same as in my e91, and is very definitely fine grained brown wood. The other two current options are brushed aluminum and high gloss black, and this car seems to have none of those. The Luxury Pkg has the option of Oak trim but that is quite brown as well – this doesn’t look like that trim either. Odd. M-Sport gets Aluminum Hex like my 2-series. Maybe it is the brushed aluminum and just looks weird due to the lighting?

      At least you get choice, there are five trim options altogether and seven seat color options. Nicer than usual beige or gray. 11 exterior colors but almost all of them are the usual shades of gray German blah. No Valencia Orange, which is a crime.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    One other nice thing about the X1, it is the only BMW S/CUV that you can do European Delivery on. It is the only one not built in South Carolina. Currently $2385 discount off the top, and ED pricing is quite negotiable typically.

  • avatar
    rjasonandrews

    We currently have a 340 and an X1. While the two don’t really compare we totally love our X1. It is fun on wheels. We drove several small crossovers and the X1 won hands down!

  • avatar
    Edgy36-39

    Good review. Liked it more than the review in Bimmer magazine. I think they underplayed how much fun is lost going from an E90 wagon base to a Mini.

    But no doubt the new one will sell better.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Bark M., United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic

Get No-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners Automotive News in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked