What you are looking at here is the 2020 BMW X1 LCI in xDrive25i format. If you’re wondering what LCI stands for (I was), it’s ‘Life Cycle Impulse’ – BMW fancy talk for a midlife update.
This ‘impulse’ brings a refreshed look for the X1, with a larger grille and redesigned air inlets and fog lights up front. At the rear, it’s been tweaked as well. New tail-lights, along with a redesigned skirt around the exhaust. On this xDrive25i, those two exhaust tips are the genuine article. Nice.
The starting price for this X1 xDrive25i is $62,900 plus on-road costs. Being at the top of the tree for the X1 range, there is a fair list of standard inclusions: LED headlights, 10.25-inch infotainment, digital radio, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, and electric heated memory seats with adjustable lumbar and bolstering.
Our tester is augmented with Mineral White metallic paint ($1700), panoramic glass roof ($2457), and the M Sport Package ($3250). Those first two options speak for themselves, but the latter includes gloss-black exterior trimmings, improved interior trimmings and finishes, M Sport leather steering wheel, M Sport suspension and aerodynamics package, sports seats, 19-inch Y-spoke alloy wheels, and a handful of other tweaks.
Final price for our end product is $70,307 – no small amount of money for a small SUV.
The ‘25i’ refers to the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that makes 170kW at 6000rpm and 350Nm at 1450–4500rpm. That early delivery of torque, aided by the twin-scroll (what BMW calls ‘TwinPower’) turbocharger, helps the X1 feel grunty when moving. Those numbers are just shy of a Golf GTI, for example, although the X1 has a couple of hundred extra kilograms to shift. The 0–100km/h dash is quoted at 6.5 seconds.
There is a hesitation through the throttle, which varies from slight to substantial, and can frustrate attempts at a zippy take-off. When rolling, the problem isn’t there: the eight-speed gearbox is eager to downshift when needed to get you hurrying along, and adding to the air of sportiness.
The flat spot disappears in Sport mode, but leaves the throttle feeling much too highly strung for day-to-day driving. ECO-PRO, conversely, is too doughy. We found ourselves spending most of our time in Comfort mode.
Along with what feels like laggy throttle and gearbox tuning, part of the X1’s off-the-line hesitation problem is the stop-start system. If you’re stopping at a set of lights for blocks at a time, it works well. There is only a brief pause when the engine reboots before you start moving once again.
When you are crawling along in stop-start traffic, however, the system feels slightly overeager, cutting in and out haphazardly in slow, crawling traffic. And if you plant the throttle at the wrong time, you’ll be waiting some time for the driveline to catch up. To turn the stop-start system off, you’ll find the button next to the engine start button.
It’s a driveline made better by xDrive, which is worth a bit of a technical specification. It’s a different mechanical set-up to other BMWs, owing to the east-west, transaxle configuration under the bonnet. The X1 runs what is known as a Haldex all-wheel-drive system, which is commonly used in Volkswagens, Audis and Volvos.
This all means that while it predominantly drives the front wheels, the X1 can push torque to the rear (they aren’t specific on how many per cent) very quickly, via an electronically controlled clutch on the rear differential.
It works well, leaving no issues around putting power down to the ground, even when you are looking for trouble. Although, my test drive was in mostly dry conditions, and I’m no Ken Block. This combines with steering that feels responsive and involving, with the thick leather-clad steering wheel feeling nice in hand. There’s plenty of grip and feedback on offer for the driver with its 215/45R19 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber.
The ride has a nice balance of comfort. While it holds the road well under more exciting driving or manoeuvres, the X1 rides with a nice, loping comfort.
Our usage settled on an average of 7.9 litres per 100km. This was with similar time spent on the highway and sitting in interminable Sydney traffic, and is respectably close to the 7.1L/100km figure quoted by BMW.
The facelift of the X1 does not include the latest-and-greatest of BMW’s infotainment. Rather, it’s an older iDrive system that is still easy to use. It’s a 10.25-inch touchscreen display in these higher specifications, and easily navigated by the rotary knob and associated buttons.
The infotainment system supports Apple CarPlay, but there is no Android Auto. BMW is dumping its maligned subscriptions model it has had for a short while, which will reduce the costs in the long run for current and prospective owners.
The interior is a classic BMW affair, with plenty of dark surfaces, some subtle stitching around the place, and that textbook orange back-lighting. There is a plethora of finger-smudge potential thanks to the piano-black finishes that populate many of the surfaces. But hey, it looks good.
The chunky M Sport steering wheel has a pleasing pared-back design, with only a few buttons cluttering the clean look. The buttons take care of your infotainment and volume, as well as cruise control.
Door bins are deceptively large and swallow up drink bottles without any dramas. There’s good storage space below the air-conditioning controls, as well, which is also home to your cupholders. The two gloveboxes are also well sized.
The X1's seats feel sporty and supportive, and finished in BMW’s Dakota leather. There is adjustable bolstering and lumbar support, along with heating and memory. Coupled with a tilt-and-reach steering wheel, you can get plenty comfortable behind the wheel.
There’s a wireless charger ensconced underneath the armrest, which locks your phone into place. It’s a smart design, although it just fits the Samsung Galaxy S9 I currently have, but only if I take the cover off. Power supply is otherwise covered by a 12V outlet and two USB points up front. In the rear, BMW has opted for two USB-C points.
The interior feels airy and spacious overall, especially considering this is deemed a small SUV. I think that's because the interior seems tall with lots of glass coverage right around. An extra benefit here is visibility for reversing and merging, which is good.
Second-row accommodation is decently sized, depending on how greedy the front row is with space. Two tall adults might start to run into spatial issues, but most scenarios are left well comfortable. Toe room under the front seat is good, and the floor feels nice and low.
The caveat here, as always, is the centre seat in the second row. It’s high and narrow, and made worse by the raised floor to accommodate the propshaft – small kids need only apply. If nobody is there, however, those in the back will score a pair of cupholders in the fold-down armrest.
The second row’s 40/20/40 folding arrangement, along with fore-and-aft sliding adjustment, helps in the versatility stakes when you are trying to make the most of storage space.
That boot, while we are at it, measures in at 505L. Fold down the second row and the number grows to 1550L. Because there is no spare tyre or space-saver to accommodate (only a punnet of goop and a small air compressor), the boot’s false floor has a big cavity underneath flanked by deep bins on each side. There’s a 12V outlet in the back, but no hooks or tie-down points.
Still, the lack of a proper spare will irk some potential buyers, who might have been buoyed by the zippy turbocharged power going to all four wheels.
Servicing is not a capped-price affair, but you can pre-purchase your servicing requirements when you buy the car. Interestingly, you can opt for as little as three years and 60,000km, all the way up to 10 years and 200,000km.
Servicing costs are reasonably competitive: five years and 80,000km of basic coverage has a list price of $1395. Opt for the plus package (that includes brake pads and discs, clutch and wiper blades) and that price jumps up to $4150.
That coverage means only 16,000km are covered per annum, so buyers will need to price up a servicing package that suits their needs and expected mileage.
BMW’s warranty offering is short at only three years, but at least you don’t have a limit on kilometres in that time.
I never drove a Forester XT, but I feel like this specification of X1 is a more expensive spiritual successor of the cult-favourite Subaru: punchy turbocharged motor going to all four wheels, and sitting underneath a practical-shaped SUV body. It’s not a performance car, but rather just a normal SUV with a few extra ponies under the bonnet.
The punchy driveline is great, save for that recurring flat spot on initial take-off. It’s surprisingly spacious for what is regarded as a small SUV, especially with that false-floor set-up in the boot. However, you could argue value is not its strong point, especially when compared to some others in the segment.