2020 BMW X1 xDrive28i: Looking Good with Racier Styling

Strong points
  • Fresh, racy looks
  • Decent space and versatility
  • Stable ride that inspires confidence
  • Improved reliability record
Weak points
  • Beware of expensive options
  • Not as fun to drive as BMW’s sedans
  • Firm suspension can be too much on rough roads
Full report

The BMW X1 is the German brand’s best-selling SUV globally. In Canada, where utility vehicles are on the rise, it ranks third behind the larger X3 and X5, in that order.

Sharing its platform with the MINI Clubman and Countryman, the second-generation X1 gets an update for the 2020 model year that includes racier styling inspired by other X models.

BMW designers mostly worked on the front and rear fascias, giving the X1 a larger, more sculpted grille in addition to new LED headlights, fog lights and taillights. The bumpers, meanwhile, feature sharper lines and larger intakes.

Overall, the design evolution is remarkably well executed. The small X1 now makes a bigger statement on the road.

Photo: BMW AG

Familiar Cabin

Little has changed inside, mind you. There’s a new electronic shifter for the eight-speed automatic transmission (which has been recalibrated for 2020, by the way) and a new 8.8-inch centre touchscreen with iDrive 6 (which you can also control via the rotary knob on the console).

Ergonomics are flawless and the instrument panel behind the steering wheel is very easy to read. On a practical note, rear-seat legroom is pretty decent by small-SUV standards, while the 505-litre trunk expands to 1,550 litres when you drop the rear seatbacks.

The available M Sport ($2,250) package adds more supportive front buckets and a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, among other things. It also comes with unique design touches and performance-enhancing goodies.

Photo: BMW AG

Pay to Play

While the 2020 BMW X1 starts at $41,900, the company has a habit of bundling many desirable options into expensive packages.

For example, our tester was equipped with the Premium Enhanced packaged ($5,950), which included a heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, premium audio system, navigation, comfort access with power liftgate and much more. It also had leather seats and metallic body paint.

In the end, someone interested in that exact vehicle would have to spend $50,600 before taxes, freight and delivery.

Photo: BMW AG

Quick and Flexible, but There's a Catch...

The only engine offered in the Canadian-spec BMW X1 is a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder that generates 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque via the aforementioned eight-speed transmission. All-wheel drive comes standard, which is not the case in the U.S.

For some reason, the engine is now mounted transversally instead of longitudinally. Just like with the MINI variants, this affects front-rear weight distribution. The previous X1 used to be perfectly balanced (50/50), but the 2020 model not so much (56/44).

On the open road, the little BMW still proves stable and dynamic thanks to a firm suspension. However, it’s definitely not as fun to drive as the company’s renowned sedans.

Speaking of performance, takeoffs are quite zippy with 0-100 km/h achieved in 6.5 seconds. Generous torque at low and medium revs makes the engine a flexible performer, while the autobox delivers quick shifts and helps reduce fuel consumption. Incidentally, we recorded an average of 9.0 L/100 km.

One final note: BMW has significantly improved its reliability record in recent years, so there should be fewer concerns in that department. Just beware of expensive options and packages that can boost the price beyond reason.

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