A great entry into the world of subcompact luxury crossovers.
The second-generation BMW X1 has garnered global success since its launch in 2016, becoming the brand’s best-selling crossover worldwide. It’s also the third best selling “X” model in Canada behind the X3 (reviewed here) and X5. For 2020, BMW has decided to give it a refresh to keep it going strong on its sales charts until the next generation arrives. The 2020 BMW X1 xDrive28i tested here is painted in a sporty Misano Blue Metallic colour that is new for this year, and optioned with the M Sport Package that adds an M Aerodynamics Package and 19-inch wheels. The LED head and taillights are redesigned for this facelifted model, and the signature BMW kidney grilles feature a larger and more sculpted design. The X1 now looks more similar to its X3 and X5 siblings, and the addition of the M Aerodynamics body kit allows it to resemble a hot hatch rather than yet another boring crossover.
Unchanged from the 2019 model is the transversely mounted 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that is found in all X1 models, producing 228 horsepower at 5,000 to 6,000 RPM, and 258 lb-ft. of torque arriving from 1,450 to 4,500 RPM. The powerful low to mid-range torque delivery means that the X1 is able to get off the line without much lag, and continues to push until around 5,000 RPM. Power is delivered to all four wheels using a responsive eight-speed Stepronic automatic transmission, and BMW claims the X1 xDrive28i will complete a zero to 100 km/h sprint in 6.5 seconds.
The BMW X1 is one of the more engaging subcompact luxury crossovers in its class. Our tester’s M Sport Package includes an upgraded M Sport Steering system that is nicely weighted with accurate response, and even though it is not as communicative as other BMW products we have come to know and love, it is above average for a segment that is fairly dull and comfort-focused rather than delivering any sort of real engagement.
The current X1 shares its platform with the MINI Countryman, and with a front-based all-wheel-drive system that engages the rear wheels only when slip is detected. Understeer is evident if you push it hard into a corner, but the onboard Dynamic Stability Control system is seamless in transferring power to keep things from getting too far out of hand. There are three drive modes, Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro, with insignificant difference between each setting except for lethargic throttle response in Eco Pro mode. Given the athletic M Sport Package and the liberal placement of the M badges in the X1, we would have liked to see a performance exhaust system with more snap crackle and pop like the one we experienced in the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 (reviewed here).
Fuel economy is 10.7L/100km in the city, 7.5L/100km on the highway, and a combined rating of 9.3L/100km. Our test week took place on a wintry week with heavy snowfall, and we observed an average of 10.9L/100km for our crawling commutes. The BMW X1 recommends premium gasoline with 91-octane, and will accept a minimum of midgrade 89-octane in its 61-litre fuel tank.
Anyone who is familiar with BMW products in the past five years will not feel estranged in the 2020 X1, as BMW has yet to update the interior layout to the newest design found in the current generation 3-series (reviewed here). The old layout also happens to be our preferred setup for its intuitiveness and simplicity. An 8.8-inch infotainment system atop the dashboard houses the iDrive 6 system, which can accept commands through the rotary dial or by touch, and it remains one of the better systems in the market today. Apple CarPlay is supported; however, like several other BMW products tested that uses a wireless connection method, we experienced difficulties with getting CarPlay going after a vehicle start and had to repeatedly re-pair phones throughout the week.
Our tester was equipped with the Dakota Leather option with blue contrast stitching to highlight its sportiness. The leather sport seats have good back support, but the bottom cushion is quite narrow and anyone with a waist width of 36-inches and above is recommended to test fit the seats before making a purchase decision. The brushed aluminum trim is cool to the touch and added some extra sophistication in the simple interior. BMW also equipped our X1 with a Premium Package Enhanced, adding a suite of comfort features such as heated steering wheel, powered trunk lid, panoramic sunroof, auto dimming mirrors, head-up display, and a seven-speaker 205-watt HiFi sound system to keep it competitive amongst other compact luxury crossovers.
Despite its relatively small size (10-inches shorter than a 2019 BMW 3-series), interior space inside the BMW X1 is quite good. There is good head and legroom inside, and rear legroom is particularly impressive considering smaller BMWs are not traditionally known for accommodating tall adults in the back. The suspension setup in the X1 is quite firm, negatively impacting its overall ride quality and the standard 19-inch wheels with winter tires certainly did not help either. Cargo space is measured at 767 litres.
For safety, the 2020 X1 comes standard with driver assistance technologies such as Lane Departure warning, Frontal Collision Warning with brake intervention, Speed Limit information, and High Beam assistant. Our tester was equipped with the optional Park Assistant system, and buyers who want the adaptive cruise control system can opt for the Driving Assistant Plus package.
The X1 xDrive28i starts at a reasonable $41,900, and our tester was optioned with a long list of extras including the Premium Package Enhanced ($5,950), M Sport Package ($2,250), 19-inch M Light Alloy Wheels ($500), Dakota Leather ($950), and Metallic Paint ($895), bringing our as-tested total to $52,445. The $50,000 price range enters the BMW X1 into the most competitive range for a small crossover, with competition such as the Volvo XC40, Acura RDX (reviewed here) and Lexus NX 300 (reviewed here). The X1 shares with the Acura RDX as the most engaging driving crossovers of the group, and they both have the most generous interior space. Those who are not looking for the sportiest driving feel can opt out of the M Sport Package and the 19-inch wheels to keep pricing below the $50K threshold, which is a price point where the X1 truly shines.
All in all, the 2020 BMW X1 xDrive28i is a great entry into the world of subcompact luxury crossovers. It combines utility with good driving dynamics, in a handsome package that looks the part of a modern BMW. The latest refresh manages to keep it relevant to buyers who are looking for a crossover between the $45-50,000 price range, and we have no doubt the X1 will continue its strong sales success for the model line.