‘X’ (pronunciationˈɛks, plural exes) is the 24th and antepenultimate letter in the modern English alphabet. From being simply a multiplication sign to denoting an independent value in algebra, X is also probably the most multifaceted of all the 26 Modern English alphabets. With X denoting the crossover category, this letter also plays a mighty important role in the world of cars. From the likes of Mahindra KUV100 to cars such as the Audi Q7, the crossover tag covers a pretty wide spectrum of automobiles. Positioned towards the stratospheric-end of this spectrum is BMW’s X-series of luxury crossover-SUV line-up. The X1 is the smallest and the least priced offering in BMW’s crossover and ‘Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)’ model range.

In its second-generation now, the BMW X1 is underpinned by BMW’s much-publicized ‘UKL’ front-wheel-drive platform. Validating its crossover credentials, the X1 comes with permanent all-wheel-drive and a design that looks far more rugged than that of the 1-Series and yet, no where as daunting as that of the latest Ford Endeavour. The new X1 offers a typical SUV-stance, decent ‘soft-roading’ capabilities along with 3-series-like comfort levels. Also, on sale in India for a starting price of around Rs 31 Lakh, the second-generation X1 is also amongst cheapest Bimmers you can buy today. So, has BMW got it just right with the second iteration of its entry-level crossover? Or is the new X1 the proverbial ‘Jack of all Trades, Ace of None’? We find out in our BMW X1 test drive review here.

Chapter 1: Bigger, Better, Beefier!

The new X1 looks almost nothing like its predecessor. Proportionally, the two generations are a world apart. The X1 looks beefier and a lot more SUV-ish than before. While the current X1 is slightly shorter in length than its predecessor, it’s as much as 53 mm taller, which means the cabin is a lot airier. It may be noted that the latest X1 is built on BMW’s UKL platform. There, the front-wheel-drive format allows for a transverse mounting of the engine, which, in turn, allows a cab-forward design. This, again, has helped with freeing up a lot of space on the inside.

A bold design, taut surfaces and genre-specific stance helps the X1 blend seamlessly into the BMW X model line-up. The front-end is characterized by an aggressive look, which is courtesy of the rather in-your-face kidney grille and the “four-eyed” from the head lights and fog lamps. The LED daytime driving lights go on to lend a premium touch to the overall design.

The X1 is as impressive when viewed in its side profile. The surfaces are neat and you don’t get the flamboyance, or even quirkiness to some, that one saw on the ‘Bangle’d Bimmers’. You don’t get the long-bonnet look of the earlier model, but there are a couple of well-defined creases to keep the exterior from looking bland. The window surfaces taper towards the rear to create a somewhat dynamic impression.

The rear-end is characterized by rather chunky taillights and a well-sculpted tailgate. The rear windscreen spoiler enhances the sportiness quotient, while the faux side plate lend a touch of ruggedness to the design.

Akin to the exterior, even the interior of the latest X1 marks a clear departure from the earlier generation. The current X1’s cabin strikes a fine balance between driver focus and passenger comfort. While the instrument cluster and the centre console is angled slightly towards the driver, the high-quality materials and the immaculate fit and finish impress all the occupants.

Like we said, the current generation’s front-wheel-drive platform has enabled a cab-forward stance. This means the current X1 offers a far more spacious cabin than the earlier generation. The driver, in typical SUV fashion, benefits from a commanding view of the road There’s ample legroom in both the front and rear rows and the rear bench is good for three adults, at least on short journeys.

Chapter 2: Strong, Smooth, Sophisticated!

Internationally, the BMW X1 is available with a choice of a Petrol and 3 Diesel engines. For India, however, the X1 comes with just one Diesel engine – a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder TwinPower Turbo unit that outputs a max. power of 190 PS and a peak torque of 400 Nm. The BMW X1 xDrive20d’s turbochargers benefit from variable turbine geometry, and an injection system that operates at a max. pressure of 2,000 bar. The engine comes mated to an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. We drove the xDrive all-wheel drive version, which works as a front-wheel drive mostly, but can send all the power to the rear wheels when need arises.

Turbo-lag is minimal and there’s a strong surge of acceleration right from roughly 1,500 RPM. The engine is high on refinement and revs freely. The X1 is at its sprightliest self in the ‘Sport’ model but even in the comfort mode there’s enough to keep you entertained. There’s even a ‘Manual’ mode to keep the keenest of drivers happy. In traffic conditions, this ultra-refined and sufficiently potent engine makes the X1 very tractable; on highway, this car’s quite a mile-muncher. With 190 PS and high refinement levels, the X1 offers a drive experience that’s comparable to some of the pricier SUVs/Crossovers around.

Chatper 3: Plush, Planted, Poised!

The chassis of the second-gen X1 is far more modern than that of the original model. The X1’s chassis comprises a single-joint strut suspension at the front and a multi-link rear axle. Aluminium swivel bearings, axle carriers and control arms, which are made from high-strength steel, help keep the weight under check and also help enhance the rigidity. The rear axle too features many components made from high-strength steels. Finally, tube-like anti-roll bars at both the axles, along with innovative axle mounting, enhance the agility and ride comfort of the BMW X1.

Basically, all this leads to a great ride quality and fantastic handling characteristics. The X1 feels slightly softly sprung, which means it gobbles up most of the craters and undulations with utter ease. In true BMW-fashion, the X1 is a joy in the corners, too. The steering is well-weighed and accurate; it’s also just the correct size and feels good to hold.  The proverbial ‘purists’ might argue that it’s not as sharp as the rear-wheel-drive first gen X1, but tell you what, in most conditions, and even in hands of a pretty average driver like yours truly, the second gen X1 is a pretty sharp corner-carver. The 50:50 weight distribution, together with a low centre of gravity, a wide track and short overhangs, goes a long way to ensure that the X1 stays very poised under hard cornering.


The BMW X1 is the smallest, but a really significant member of the BMW X model range. For starters, it is the cheapest BMW SAV you can buy. Hence, it gets really important for this cross-SUV to uphold the aura of the X model range and offer most of the virtues of bigger X-series cars, like the X3, at a much lesser cost. And this is just half the story. The X1 also faces the heat from the top-end trims of popular SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Endeavour. Not only are these available at a slightly lower price, but also offer more space, an additional row of seats and lower maintenance costs. Also, these are thoroughbred SUVs, and hence, look far more daunting and rugged than the X1.

However, the X1 manages to come across as a highly desirable motor. For starters, it wears the much revered BMW badge, which means the X1 enjoys a really high brand value. It also means you get a fairly luxurious cabin that boasts of high-quality materials and an immaculate fit and finish. Also, the TwinPower Diesel engine is a rather potent unit that is also high on refinement. But what really takes the car is the fact that the X1 manages to deliver a really comfortable ride without lowering any of the handling manners we come to expect from a BMW.  Well, the X1 is not just a Jack of all trades, but is also the master of most.

BMW X1 Test Drive Review – Specifications

Displacement 1995 cc
Maximum Power 190 bhp @ 4000 rpm
Maximum Torque 400 Nm @ 1750-2500 rpm
Gearbox 8-Speed Steptronic Automatic Transmission
Mileage (Certified) 20.68 kmpl
Ground Clearance 165 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity 51 litres

BMW X1 Test Drive Review – Image Gallery

So what do you say about our BMW X1 Test Drive Review? Do share your views by commenting below.