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Quraish Umrethi Quraish Umrethi Sunday 19 June 2011

BMW X1 Review - Hits the Nail Right on the Head!

We move from Toyota’s cheapest offering - the Etios, to the most competitively priced vehicle from BMW – the BMW X1. Unlike the Etios though, the X1 is typically BMW. Despite its cheaper price tag, there is no mistaking the BMW feel and the BMW quality that the X1 gives.


The BMW X1 is the cheapest BMW that money can buy and the lowest priced amongst its competitors too. No wonder there were over 1000 bookings after its December launch in its first month itself. The demand just seems to be growing and there is currently a 3-4 month waiting period for the X1. There was clearly a shortage in supply as compared to the growing demand for the X1, but BMW says that this has now been sorted with a waiting period reduced to just one month. BMW now expects to sell around 400 units of the X1 per month.

The BMW X1 comes with 2 engine options, first of which is a 2.0 litre petrol which produces 150 bhp @ 6400 RPM and torque of 200 NM @ 3600 RPM. The second is a 2.0 litre Diesel engine, which comes in 2 Trims, the ‘Base’ and the ‘Exclusive’ variant. The BMW X1 Exclusive variant comes loaded with all BMW Frills.


BMWs get a glance where-ever you go. Stop at a signal and people around will at once turn their heads to take a look at the car. And especially if you are moving around in a small village like Dandi, the news of a Beemer in town spreads quickly and you get people coming out fast to get a quick glimpse. In fact, the number of people that took snaps of themselves with the X1 was more than we could manage!


The X1 is not a very big SUV (if you can really call it an SUV) but it does not feel small when you look at it in person. The large bonnet and large Kidney Grills give the front end a bold and aggressive look. The Exclusive Trim gets BMW Corona rings with Xenon Lights and Headlight washers, while Front and Rear Fog lamps come standard on all trims. With its bold and aggressive look, the BMW X1 is designed to attract younger buyers.

The high waistline and shallow Greenhouse give the X1 a very sporty look. The 17” 10 Spoke Alloy Wheels look even better, though they come standard only on the Exclusive. The remaining two variants get standard 5 Spoke alloys.

The Rear end of the X1 resembles a hatch back from many angles. There is a hint of a spoiler with a high mount Stop Lamp.

The Exclusive gets Automatic Headlights and Automatic wipers. We got to test both these features in the constant downpour that we got during the journey. The wiper adjusts its speed depending on the intensity of rain and it is pretty accurate. We tried to find faults in it by manually activating the wipers in case it got difficult to see ahead, but just when we were about to hit the wiper stalk, the wipers would clean the windscreen themselves. There were only a couple of times when we had to activate it ourselves and that’s probably because we did not wait that extra second longer.


Silver coloured scruff plates are provided all around. You don’t want to scratch the paint on the Beemer now, do you? Although considering the X1’s off-roading ability, I don’t think scratching the paint is that much of a threat. It does give the BMW X1 and SUV look though.

The X1 has accurate Parking Sensors with an excellent display too. The Parktronic goes from Green to Orange to Red as you keep getting closer to an object. The reading moves ever so slowly, and resembles water spreading towards the X1, which makes it even easier to get accurate results and go closer to the object than you normally would dare.

At 420 litres, the Boot is average sized, but capacity can be increased to 1350 litres by folding the rear seats. The Rear Seats fold individually in a 40-20-40 split, which gives more options for the occasional oddly sized luggage.

Lift the boot floor and you see that the battery is located where the Spare wheel is supposed to be. Yes, you do not get a Spare wheel with the X1. This is due to the fact that BMW has provided the X1 with Run flat tyres. For those new to the concept, Run Flats means that in case you have a puncture, all you have to do is reduce the speed to 80 kmph and you can continue safely on the deflated tyre for a certain distance, depending on the load in the car, without causing damage to the Car or the Rims.


For the X1, the Run Flats allow you to go for approximately 250 kms safely on a punctured tyre if you have just 1 or 2 people on board and no luggage. This safe range decreases to 150 kms with 2 people and full luggage or 4 people with no luggage and to about 50 kms if you have 4 people on board with the luggage compartment also full.

The BMW X1’s on-board computer constantly monitors tyre pressure and will warn you instantly incase of a puncture or if the tyre pressure is below what is recommended by the company. You also get a puncture repair kit (the bag that you see in the photographs of the boot). 


If I had to sum up the interiors in one line, it feels good to be inside the X1! The interiors are similar to what we see in the 3 Series and even the other X Series cars. Quality of plastics and leather is top notch, and Fit and Finish are nearly flawless. There were no areas which we felt the BMW had compromised to reduce costs.


The Front Seats are comfortable and very supportive. Both front seats can be electrically adjusted in all directions and they provide excellent lumbar support. The Driver’s side also gets a couple of memory settings.

The Soft Touch dashboard did an excellent job of reducing windscreen glare. In fact, you could press it in by about half an mm with your nails.

The Rear seats are slightly on the stiffer side, though they are quite comfortable too. The Rear seats can recline at 10 different angles ranging from 1 to 31 degrees.

The X1 is practically a 4 Seater. The rear bench can accommodate a Third person but the High Transmission Tunnel intrudes into his leg space and makes it a tad uncomfortable. Rear Passengers only get AC floor vents, which don’t work too well, but are not required all that much as the powerful, Dual Zone Climate Control, Aircon unit can cool the X1’s cabin down in no time at all.


Although the X1’s roof slopes downwards toward the rear for a sporty appearance, there are no complaints where headroom is concerned. What takes the cake though is the Panorama Sun Roof, which is available only on the Exclusive trim. If you like Sun Roofs, you will just love this one.

The Steering wheel is fully adjustable for reach and rake and feels great to hold. You get buttons for the iDrive system on the steering wheel which basically controls the on-board computer, so you can control the Radio, the CD player, and the Telephone which connects via Bluetooth. You can also check the Vehicle settings, set the correct units to be displayed, see if all systems in the car are working correctly and even control the Journey / Trip Computer. The Split screen gives all journey details like Fuel Efficiency, Distance to Empty and Average Speed at a single glance and there is no need to toggle between them. You also get instantaneous mileage in litres consumed per 100 kms (l/100 km - albeit an analogue one) just below the Tachometer. The Fuel indicator is housed below the Speedometer and the Centre unit Displays the Time, Outside Air Temperature, the Odometer and a single Trip meter.

The iDrive is intuitive and easy to use, though it takes a little time to learn and get used to it. All important buttons like Telephone, Radio, CD etc are provided so that you can go into their menus directly.

A small but thoughtful feature is the provision of little red lights, located in the roof mounted lights, which illuminate the iDrive and the Gear Lever. This red light ensures that night vision is not affected (as the case would have been if white light was used) as your eyes do not need to get acclimatized again to the darkness outside after you had a look at them.

Although our car had a button that said Navigation, unfortunately it was not available on our BMW X1. No Cruise Control either, though it is a feature best done without. Saves costs and you rarely, if ever, get to use it effectively.


The Audio system on the X1 is excellent. It plays sound through 8 Speakers and there was not much we could complain about. You also get an 8 CD changer, though the CD Magazine is located in the Boot and CDs cannot be inserted directly from the glove-box, as is the case with the 5 Series.

All 4 windows get one touch Auto Up and Auto Down. You also get lane change indicators and Auto Door locks, whose settings can be changed from the iDrive. The OVRMs are electrically adjustable and they auto fold at the press of a button. Both OVRMs and IVRM have an auto dimming feature, where they turn dark at night to reduce the glare from headlights of the cars following you.

The lit glove box is medium sized and you get some more storage spaces in the Door Pockets, inside the Front Arm rest, in the Seat pockets behind the Front Seats and also in front of the Gear Lever. Both Driver and Passenger side Sun Visors have Vanity mirrors in them. There is also a Sun Glass holder above the Drivers side Door.


While the X1, like all BMWs, is a completely Driver’s Oriented car, one of the drawbacks we found was the Hydraulic Steering Wheel which feels heavy at lower speeds and is quite cumbersome in City Traffic though it tends to become lighter and very precise as the speed increases.


Despite the 194mm Ground Clearance, the X1 can be chucked hard into corners with ease. There is certain amount of body roll, which is expected, but the car holds its line perfectly. You also get a bit of over-steer if you encounter a sequence of fast corners but it’s not too much of a bother. ESP and Traction Control ensure that you exit corners safely. Even a novice driver can push the BMW X1 hard and get away with it! Driving with the ESP switched off is a completely different experience and not advisable unless you really know what you are doing.

The suspension of the X1 is slightly on the stiffer side (though it felt softer than the 3 series) but manages to handles bumps and bad roads well - much needed considering much of the Gujarat Highway has work going on and traffic is diverted into single lane roads, which thanks to heavy trucks and rains, are not in the best of conditions.


The elevated driving position gives a good view of the road, though it cannot be compared to a full sized SUV.

The 17” 255/70 Section Pirelli tyres on our Press Car offered ample grip, though we certainly missed the fact the X1 does not have a 4 x 4 on offer. The X1 can’t do too much off-roading, just a little more than what a normal sedan can manage. We got stuck in 2” deep slush and it was quite a task getting out, so we didn’t dare to take it off solid ground any further.

NVH levels are kept well in check. Just a little noise filters through the cabin and you can barely hear any tyre or wind noise. Engine clatter too is dampened very well inside the X1 and you only realize that it is making a bit of a racket in case you have the windows rolled down. 


The 2.0 litre Diesel unit on the X1 pumps out 177 bhp of Power at just 4000 RPM and churns out a healthy 350 NM of Torque between 1730 - 3000 RPM.  The standard 6 Speed Automatic Transmission is provided across all Trims. Unfortunately, even the X1 Exclusive does not get a paddle shifter.


It seems that the 6 Speed Auto Box in the X1 has been designed to return the highest possible Fuel Efficiency figures. It keeps jumping into the highest gear possible and does not shift down unless absolutely required. Although the up-shifts are pretty quick, you do feel a slight jerk when the transmission shifts down a gear. Step on the gas and there is a considerable lag before the X1 shifts down a couple of gears and you get the boost that you require. This does hamper spirited driving and makes overtaking on the highways a little tricky – when you see a gap and floor the throttle, nothing happens for a second, and by the time the transmission downshifts, the on-coming vehicle has just gotten that fraction too close for a comfortable overtaking maneuver.

Manual gear shifts have to be made via the gear lever and that is where we missed the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel sorely.

This apart the X1 is quick and feels that way too. Unfortunately, we could not do any performance testing, due to the pathetic condition of the highways and the constant downpour that we got all along the way. The only sunshine we got to see was in Dandi and it would take a brave man to try to test out a car’s top speed on single lane roads barely 20 feet wide.


Nevertheless, we managed to hit 180 kmph on certain stretches with ease. BMW claims a 0-100 timing for the X1 of 8.3 seconds and a top speed of 205 kmph. Considering the way the X1 accelerated from standstill and its composure even at 180 kmph, we don’t doubt these figures at all. We managed to cross 140 kmph on the beach with ESP on and the car’s stability programme working in overdrive. Pretty impressive considering the lack of a 4 x 4 system!

The X1’s ABS coupled with EBD brings the X1 to a halt safely in no time at all, and 6 Airbags are provided for added safety.

The X1 has push button ignition, albeit slightly old school. It does not have a proximity sensor, so you need to insert the key into the slot to get the electronics in the car working, before you can thumb the Starter button and move forward.

Despite its power, the X1 is pretty frugal when it comes to fuel consumption. The worst mileage we got was 8.9 kmpl, and we managed about 9.5 kmpl in the City and 13.6 kmpl on the Highways. The overall mileage we were getting was 12.6 kmpl, though our antics on the beach and our attempts to extract maximum traction on the sand reduced this to just under 11.5 kmpl.


Tech specs
Technical Specifications
Make BMW
Model X1
Variant X1 sDrive 18i X1 sDrive 20d X1 sDrive 20d Exclusive
Engine cc 1995 1995 1995
Power PS/RPM 150/4000 177/4000 177/4000
Torque in NM/RPM 200/3600 350/3000 350/3000
Gear Box 7/AT 7/AT 7/AT
Tyres 225/50 R17 225/50 R17 225/50 R17
Length 4454 4454 4454
Width 1798 1798 1798
Height 1545 1545 1545
wheel base 2760 2760 2760
Mileage KMPL 11 15 15
Features X1 sDrive 18i X1 sDrive 20d X1 sDrive 20d Exclusive
Multifunction Steering Yes Yes Yes
Leather steering wheel Yes Yes No
Sports leather steering wheel No No Yes
Run flat tyres Yes Yes Yes
Xenon lights No No Yes
Park distance control Rear Yes Yes Yes
iDrive programmable  fav buttons No No Yes
Music System with HiFI loud speaker Yes Yes Yes
Driver and Front passanger  airbag Yes Yes Yes
Head airbags for front and rear Yes Yes Yes
Side airbag for driver and front passanger No No No
Crash sensor Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic stability control Yes Yes Yes
Dynamic traction control Yes Yes Yes
Interior trim finisher Black high gloss Yes Yes No
Fire wood trim FineLine Wave No No Yes
Leather Naveda Upholstery Yes Yes No
Sensatec Upholstery No No Yes
Ex Showroom Mumbai 2354400 2564555 3194400
Variant sDrive 20d Sports
Engine cc 1995 2477
Power  PS/RPM 177/4000 178/4000
Torque in NM/RPM 350/3000 400/2500
Gear Box 6/AT 5/M
Tyres 225/50 R17 265/65 R17
Length 4454 4695
Width 1798 1815
Height 1545 1840
wheel base 2760 2800
Mileage KMPL 15 15
Multifunction Steering Yes Yes
Leather steering wheel Yes Yes
Park distance control Rear Yes Yes
Music System  Yes Yes
Driver and Front passanger  airbag Yes Yes
Side airbag for driver and front passanger No No
Traction control Yes Yes
Leather upholstery Yes Yes
Ex Showroom Mumbai 2564555 2256000

With the X1, BMW have hit the nail right on the head. The have managed to get the right car at the right price with no compromise. No wonder people are queuing up to buy it and BMW has already received 1800 confirmed bookings.


The X1 is available for Rs.22,00,000/- (ex-showroom, all India) for the Petrol Variant and Rs.23,90,000/- and Rs.29,90,000/- for the Diesel Base and Exclusive Variants respectively. If I had to go for one, I’d definitely choose the Diesel Exclusive. If you do want a Beemer and like the X1, it is worth the money you are going to be spending on it.

The BMW X1 will surely help BMW further strengthen its position as leader in the Luxury car segment in India. 

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