The BMW X1 is BMW’s most budget friendly crossover and from July 2020 onwards, BMW Malaysia started locally assembling the BMW X1in the form of BMW X1 sDrive 18i. Being the most budget friendly BMW model, the X1 is competing against small premium sedans rather than other premium crossovers.

The current generation X1 has been on the market since 2015, and the facelifted model reached the Malaysia market in January 2020. The BMW X1 is the type of vehicle that blends into the traffic easily, as it is not the kind of vehicle that attracts attention. Since my opportunity to review the X1, I noticed that BMW actually sold quite a number of them in Malaysia.

At 1st glance, the X1 does carry the modern day BMW look, where a large kidney grille sits at the front of the crossover. Beside the grille, the full LED headlights provide good visibility in low light situations. I particularly like the design of the daytime running lights, especially the details that BMW puts into it to give it a distinctive look.

When I 1st opened the door, I was greeted by that familiar BMW interior smell. And being a BMW product, the dashboard also gives a sense of familiarity to BMW owners. The main colour themes for the X1 interior are black, on black, on black, with a hint of silver. Overall, the interior felt very premium and very well put together.

In the driver seat, I was presented with an instrument cluster that combines digital display with analogue dials, to create a modern version of the old style instrument cluster that BMW used to have. At the center, there is an 8.8 inch iDrive display system that controls the infotainment part of the vehicle. The display quality is high, and it is particularly evident when the reverse camera is switched on. Sadly, the infotainment does not feature any Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, which is quite disappointing. Come on BMW, it’s already 2021.

Coming back to the seats, getting comfortable in the driver seat is very easy. The thing that I felt uncomfortable with was the seatbelt, where the X1 didn’t come with a seat belt height adjuster for the driver, and it causes the seatbelt to scrape on my neck. On the plus side, there are plenty of storage compartments around the front seats to store items inside the X1.

Heading to the back seats, the amount of shoulder room available indicates that the X1 is mainly designed to seat 2 people at the rear comfortably, as 3 people will definitely be a squeeze. The legroom for the rear passenger is huge, and rear passengers can charge their phones through the 2 USB-C outlets below the rear AC vents. As for boot space, the X1 has a rather deep boot with a storage area under the boot floor. If any owners wish to load longer items, the rear seats can be folded down to create an almost flat floor to allow bulky items to be pushed forward.

Under the hood, the X1 is powered by a 3 cylinder turbocharged 1.5L engine, and it is paired with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. This engine has the ability to produce around 138hp and 220Nm of torque. According to official figure, the X1 can hit the 100km/h mark in 9.6 seconds and a top speed of 201km/h.

Even though under the hood is a 3 cylinder engine, the engine felt so much smoother than what I’m expecting. At times, I do feel the vibration of the engine, especially during start up. When driving, the engine has enough pulling power to pull the X1 uphill, but turbo lag can be evident, especially after lifting off from the throttle pedal and stepping on it again. And for the transmission, the DCT that BMW uses in the X1 changes gear instantaneously and seamlessly. I find that the transmission performance is on par with the best in the business, which are DCTs from the Volkswagen group.

Being a BMW, I have high hopes in the driving dynamics of the X1, and it clearly does not disappoint me. When taking a corner, the weight of the steering wheel tends to be on the heavier side, which it’s trying to mimic the feel of a hydraulic power steering system. On the flip side, the steering wheel does provide confidence to the driver when navigating through the bends. BMW has also blessed the X1 with a well tuned suspension and stiff chassis in keeping the vehicle body movement in check. Apart from that, the suspension also does a good job in absorbing the bumpiness of the 225/55 R17 run flat tyres. Grip wise, the tyres have plenty of grip to pull the X1 through the bends in a controlled manner.

The brakes on the X1 is one of the highlights for the vehicle, as the brakes on it has the ability to handle  a lot more power than what the 1.5L can produce. Despite having a strong brake, new owners will definitely need some time to get used to the sensitive brakes. At high speed, the brakes are definitely on point and have plenty of stopping power to slow the X1 down.

As for safety and driver assistance systems, it is rather basic. It includes 6 airbags, ABS, EBD, ESC, ISOFIX, Lane Departure Warning, Frontal Collision Warning with braking intervention, High-beam Assistant, and Speed Limit Info. For a modern vehicle, the lack of constant beeping from the safety system is rather refreshing. It felt peaceful when driving the X1, the beeps only came in when the car detected imminent danger.

With a price of RM 215,800, the X1 is one of the most budget friendly crossovers in the BMW lineup. It is priced even lower than the locally assembled 218i, which is a sedan. The X1 is suitable for those who want to experience the BMW lifestyle at a budget friendly range, and yet has the ability to load things up when needed. Even though the X1 is a very capable vehicle, I don’t think the X1 is my cup of tea, but it’ll definitely fit into the needs of a small family.

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