The desirability and performance of any BMW X-series is without question, even with the 1st generation entry-level X1 (E84) crossover which despite its enormous worldwide commercial success was the lone model I personally did not like. It was supposed to reflect the strengths of the X3 and X5 in a more affordable and more compact package. It still had the vital BMW driving dynamics and it was plenty capable, but it was just downright unattractive inside and out. The old X1 was not consistent with its big brother’s level of execution, polish, and overall design, again despite having solid mechanical ability. I found it odd looking and too plebian. I know I am repeating myself but that is only because I really hoped that the idea would have been far more complete. Thankfully, the all-new 2nd generation X1 (F48) hits every sore mark and delivers even more than expected in stark contrast but it comes with a caveat, albeit not as grave as purists would think.
The outgoing model was built on a solid traditional rear-wheel-drive platform melded from the X3 (E83), 3-series wagon (E92), and the 1-series (E87). The new X1 uses the new UKL2 platform which is shared with the Mini Cooper Clubman and the BMW 2-series Active Tourer, so it is actually primarily a front-wheel drive. Which does not bother me at all because BMW has once again built an outstanding product with its core high performance characteristics intact. The lone model sold in the US at the moment is a fully loaded xDrive28i which finally looks genuinely like a baby X5. And the new interior also resounds this. For the domestic Philippine market, we give up a bit of acceleration from rest to 100 km/h by 1.1 seconds, which is fast becoming a figment of melancholy, for better real-world flexibility and fuel economy with the still potent xDrive20d in a top-grade xLine trim actually hitting its governed top speed of 220 km/h which is 10 km/h more than the US xDrive28i.
The old X1 had a huge trunk but the rest of the cabin always felt marginalized. The new X1 has a 15% larger trunk while the cabin is very upscale and complete with all the expected fancy gadgetry and up-to-date infotainment systems. The xDrive28i is down from last year’s parallel model from 241 bhp to 228 bhp but it is almost a hundred pounds lighter too along with a new updated Aisin 8-speed automatic gearbox to compensate. It drives with almost the same pace if not better especially where it counts in the mid-range with 258 lb-ft @ 1250-4800 rpm. The xDrive20 turbodiesel (which is almost 20% more fuel efficient with even less emissions than the previous equal model) actually feels more powerful and more effortless as it gets its peak torque of a more substantial 295 lb-ft @ 1750rpm and holds it a bit longer to 2500 rpm before it gradually tapers off. The new model is 1.7 inches taller, 0.9 inch wider and 1.1 inches shorter with a wheelbase shortened by 3.6 inches compared to the outgoing model, but it feels tangibly larger and exponentially more sophisticated than before.
Under normal driving conditions for both models, the power delivery is 100% front-wheel driven without deteriorating steering feel, which can instantly be channeled to the rear automatically and seamlessly when required through the intelligent xDrive multi-plate clutch. The weight distribution is very good too at 57:43 (front/rear) so most drivers may not even feel the difference. The sensation is more obvious, if it bothers you, in the 2-series Active Tourer since it does not have the extra clutch and rear drive. So, if the old X1 model was a huge success despite its shortcomings, the new model is guaranteed to be another brilliant winner for BMW and for us consumers.
To highlight the massive improvements and notable features of the locally available all-new BMW X1, Asian Carmakers Corp. (the exclusive Philippine importer/distributor) president Maricar Parco, marketing director Karl Magsuci, marketing assistant Thea Geronimo along with their PR agency EON’s Pao Oga, my fellow horticulturist Jane Villa and their respective teams did a fabulous job treating quite a few of us Philippine motoring media participants to a lovely convoy event called the BMW X1 “City-to-Sea” drive.
We started real early in the morning at BMW’s lovely Autoallee dealership on North EDSA, where we all gathered before heading out to one of our favorite gentlemen in the auto industry, Liberato “Levy” P. Laus’ Pampanga Premier dealership where we took a short pit stop to also switch drivers. From there we headed to Pradera Verde in Lumbao for lunch and the first media challenge by teams, which was to creatively photograph the X1 using a drone. Each of the BMW X1 media test units had a team of 3. Our SAV team consisted of myself, riding mostly as a rear passenger for a change for the whole event, the hugely entertaining Alvin Uy from the Inquirer, and the jolly Dinzo Tabamo from Top Gear Philippines.
Our next media challenge, to sweeten the test drive experience, was at the freshly opened Acea Subic Bay resort in Subic where we stayed for the night. To prove how much more space the new trunk could swallow, each team had to figure out exactly how many pieces of luggage and equipment were loaded specifically into a sealed X1. Dinzo got it right, but unfortunately, I somehow foolishly convinced the team that the SAV carried more than it had, sorry guys!
Before dinner and the awarding ceremony back at the resort, the BMW team treated us further by setting up a fun sunset cruise on a chartered yacht in the bay. After a delicious lunch at the famously good Meat Plus Café the next day, we headed back to Manila through the faster highway route.
Having tested the two most popular variants of the all-new BMW X1, I can say with complete confidence that I would actually choose the model over the current X3 and even the X4 for our Philippine driving conditions. It is aggressively priced and well specified at the moment so if any of you readers want the very best premium compact crossover in the country, this is it. BMW has delivered big even if it actually is not the biggest in the segment!
Specification – 2017 BMW X1 xDrive20d xLine
Engine: Inline-4, 1995 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbodiesel, 8-speed AT
Max power: 188 bhp @ 4000 rpm
Max torque: 295 lb ft @ 1750-2500 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 7.6 sec.
Top Speed: 220 km/h (138 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 5.1–4.9 liters/100 kilometers overall
Price as tested: PhP 3,340,000.00
C! RATING 10/10
+The best X1 model yet by far, more spacious, better looking inside and out, full featured, and very planted
-Get past the front-wheel-drive stigma and you will be very happy