The Special One

The BMW X1 arrived with a facelift just before the pandemic began, and we got behind the wheel of it now. So what’s new with this one, and does this entry-level SUV have it all to go against the likes of its rivals?

By Harshit Srinivas
New Update
The Special One
The BMW X1 has a special place in my life. Not just because I am about to pen down the review for it, but also because it was the first car I drove as I entered this profession. The X1 in the 2020 version arrived with a facelift, with some technical updates and certain cosmetic tweaks on the inside and outside. To start with, BMW launched this generation of X1 with a BS6-compliant engine in both the petrol and diesel guises. But, are these updates making it on-par with its rivals? Well, read on to get all your queries resolved here in this review.
BMW X1 at first glance looks reminiscent of the previous generation X1 from all sides. Although, one of the biggest changes that are right on your face is the mahoosive kidney grille like its elder siblings; the X3, X5, X6, and the massive X7. The grille to many of us may not look that blingy or flashy as the elder siblings but BMW has done a great yet practical job by finishing it with a dash of silver and not just the usual lustrous chrome around it. Upfront, other updates besides the grille are the newly designed LED headlamps and a revamped bumper that also houses the horizontal LED fog lamps. And, moving towards the rear, you will notice the updates to be limited to the redesigned LED tail lamp, bumper, and those hot chrome exhaust tips. The exhaust pipes have a marginal increase in the overall diameter, and mind you they are not faux. Also, the X1 now stands a little taller than the older version on its new 17-inch wheels and it is quite a looker. Although looks are subjective, the X1 will most certainly appeal to those looking for an entry-level SUV in the brand.
Inside the cabin, you need to be eagle-eyed to mark the changes. The cabin layout remains identical to the last-gen X1, and retains the colossal space in the front row and rear as well. The new X1 now boasts an 8.8-inch floating infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay only. Sorry Android users! The screen size might make you think of it as a regular 8.8-inch screen as seen in other cars with the same size, but the placement of this infotainment binnacle on the dash might change your perspective. The gear lever is now finished in premium glass, with marginal tweaks that makes it fit much better in the fist now. The instrument cluster retains its analog essence and throws all the information bold and clear. Still need more? Well, appealing to a special section of buyers, the BMW X1 offers a dual stitched dash with a touch of premium leather, making every bit of it look premium for those looking for an entry-level SUV. Also, complementing these features is the panoramic sunroof that lights the cabin well and makes it feel airy too. Not only this but the X1 also gets Type-C ports for all your modern tech gadgets, and also a USB port for those who haven’t still updated their gizmos. Needless to say, BMW has taken good care of all the prospective buyers and has plenty to offer with these aforementioned updates, making the X1 a practical SUV, under the German manufacturer’s nameplate.
Clockwise from Left: The gear lever looks more premium and fits better in the fist.
Right: The instrument cluster still retains the analog essence.
Bottom: You feel confident while pushing the X1 aggresively around the corner
On paper, although the spec sheet shows us old figures, the engine is now BS6 compliant. The variant we drove came with a 2-litre diesel unit, dubbed sDrive20d. This particular variant makes a total of 138bhp and 400Nm. And, to my surprise was the refinement of this BS6 compliant engine which of course is quieter than the BS4 versions. However, the nightmare that followed post this surprise was the absence of an all-wheel-drive. Yes, you read that right. The new X1 misses out on an AWD, even as an option in the top-end variant which is the sDrive 20d. BMW with this facelifted X1 bids adieu to the outgoing top-spec M Sport variant which was there in the BS4 iterations. Hence, the power supply is to the forward wheels only, with a fair amount of punch to it. The upshifts are quick and work seamlessly keeping you in the meat of the power band. Also, for the enthusiast in you, you can always try sticking it into the Sports mode in tandem with the gearbox at ‘S’ and go through the 8-Speed Steptronic auto-box. Since I wanted to take up this matter in my hand, I thought of using the paddle shifters while testing, but after a while, I felt the gearbox did a tremendous job on its own, so I let the fingers off the paddles and held onto the steering wheel.
Top: The 17-inch wheels do add an upright stance to the X1. 
Bottom: The X1 gets a panoramic sunroof on offer, and it keeps the cabin well lit and airy. 
Ride and Handling
On the ride and handling front, the X1 strikes a perfect balance between composure on smooth tarmac and taking up all the undulations you throw up under it with ease. On bad roads, the X1 aced it, thanks to the new 17-inch wheel setup that was friendly with the suspension too. On highways also, the X1 stayed planted making you hit those straight patches more often for the not so often road trips. Also, the X1 now handles well, with plenty of grip,and you feel more confident in pushing it hard through the corners. A little bit of body roll is evident, but not even once behind the wheel of the X1, I found it as a big reason for concern for any of you.
To sum it all, the X1 serves as an ideal choice of an entry-level SUV to the BMW brand. Though under this price range you do get another car under the BMW portfolio that is the 2 Series, which has more power and identical torque to the X1. But there is more that goes into a car than an engine and clearly, an SUV like X1 scores well against the 2 Series on paper. Also, with the Q3 being off the company’s website (at least when I write this) for unknown reasons, and Mercedes-Benz GLA in the base variant demanding a premium of around Rs 4.50 lakh more than the X1’s base variant, the X1 for me is an ideal entry-level premium SUV for prospective buyers today. But for a clear winner in the three, you will have to wait until we drive the three back to back.