BMW’s lineup of Sport Activity Vehicles continues to grow, beginning with their smallest, the X1, and ticking off every number but 2 all the way to the X6 with a 3-row X7 in the pipeline. This one here is all-new for 2016, with its body style now falling in line with the rest of the SAVs.
When BMW introduced us to their first subcompact SAV 3 years ago, it looked more wagon-esque, came in 3 flavors including base rear-drive and high performance 6-cylinder versions and had an engine that ran lengthwise.
Flash ahead to this new 2nd generation model and the sport-utility styling hits its stride with a shorter hood and a height increase of nearly 2”. The model choices have been boiled down to one; the X1 xDrive28i, so a turbo-4 and all-wheel drive are standard. And look under the hood and you’ll notice the motor sits sideways.
This X1 moves off of its rear-drive platform onto one it shares with MINI, with the xDrive system diverting up to 100% of the engine’s power to the rear wheels, preemptively as directed by copious vehicle data.
There’s no need to fret the X1’s drop in horsepower from 240 to 228 – it’s 258 pound-feet of torque still feels robust and leads to a 0-to-60mph time of 6.3-seconds, nearly identical to the previous model. Known as the B46 in BMW parlance, this motor is new to the X1 yet very similar to before with its twin scroll turbo and all of the company’s latest engineering prowess.
Just like in the MINI Clubman I recently tested, it’s mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capability, however if you want paddle shifters you’ll need to opt for the M Sport Package.
Gas mileage hasn’t changed, still rated at 26mpg in combine driving on premium gas. The previously optional Servotronic speed sensitive steering is now standard. Oddly, what felt wonderful on the previous model doesn’t connect to the driver nearly as well here with an aloofness that’s out of character for BMW. And at low RPMs, the engine sounds too unrefined to be wearing the Roundel.
Toggle over to Sport mode and the X1 invigorates the gas pedal, transmission and steering with a heightened sense of urgency. The sounds are noticeably more appealing from outside then they are from inside, where the otherwise quiet cabin can’t mute the invasive tire chatter from these runflats.