The BMW X1 is the youngest member of the BMW X-line family and falls in the same size segment as the Audi Q3 and Peugeot 3008. Although technically, it isn't an SUV. Despite being mostly identical to other cars in the segment, BMW prefers to call their crossovers Sports Activity Vehicle or SAV.
Why the distinction? Because BMW firmly believes the sheer capabilities of their X-line put them a class above the "utility" part of the Sports Utility Vehicles. We took one out for a spin to see if the car is actually worthy of the separate distinction.
Sately road presence
Despite being the smallest of the BMW's crossover family, the X1 has a strong road presence, primarily because of its front fascia. The enlarged kidney grilles that were so controversial on the sedans, blend in perfectly with the bigger proportions of the SAV. The fins of the grille are finished in chrome, which is an xLine exclusive option. Flanking the iconic grille are a pair of LED headlights, spotting BMW's signature "floating" integrated DRL's.
Moving to the side, the door handles of the X1 have small integrated lights that light up in the dark for easier ingress. The silver trim under the doors is another xLine item, skirted by a set of xLine specific Y-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels finished in what BMW calls "597 Bicolour Orbit Grey"
The rear hatch has a small spoiler built into it, as well as a wiper for the rainy days. Our press car had a manual hatch, but a powered unit is available as an option.
Overall, the design of the X1 is unmistakably premium and attention-grabbing. From a distance, the car looks much bigger than it actually is, which only adds to the brand's exclusivity.
The interior of the X1 is top-end and very drive focused. The entire centre stack is slightly tilted toward the driver, minimising the need for him to take his eyes off the road. The stack contains a 10.25-inch touch screen and the controls for the dual zone climate system.
The six-speaker audio system is Bluetooth supported, but there is also a disk drive in the middle of the centre stack. A cigarette lighter can also be found at the bottom, which combined with the CD drive, give the interior a pair of options not typically seen in contemporary cars.
The SensaTec and soft-touch material covered cabin is well illuminated, thanks to the large panoramic sunroof on top. For nighttime, the car has been outfitted with an "atmospheric light package", which is a set of six lights designed to brighten up the interiors in a combination of direct and indirect lights.
In addition to those lights, the rear passengers also get a pair of reading lights on top of their respective door frames for perusing or whatnot.
The front seats are powered, with the driver position featuring memory functions. The rear seats are manually adjustable and come with armrest cupholders and rear AC vents. Both row occupants have access to multiple USB charging ports, with an additional 12-volt socket can be found at the cargo bay.
Speaking of the cargo bay, the rear bay has a total cargo capacity of 505 litres of cargo space, which can be bumped up to 1,500 litres by dropping the rear seats. The seat belt for the middle second-row passenger can also be found here, mounted on the roof right behind the left rear passenger seat.
For safety, there are six airbags situated all across the cabin for crash protection, as well as child seat anchors to secure in a toddler seat.
Dynamic driving experience
Despite its crossover size, the X1 does not drive like one. BMW dispensed with the typical sponge suspension typical of this segment, opting for an adaptive layout optimised for enthusiastic driving. The end result is a compact crossover that drives and handles like an oversize hot hatch.
The driving experience is very direct, letting you feel most of the road from the driver's seat. Body rolls are almost nonexistent, with the car staying upright even during spirited turns. The seven-speed gearbox shifts through the gear quickly enough, without any noticeable lag between the shifts.
The 1.5 Litre TwinPower turbocharged three-cylinder provides spirited power delivery, staying in the powerband for the entirety 10 seconds needed to hit triple-digit. Brakes are also quick to respond and thanks to BMW's excellent attention to chassis balance, brings the car to a graceful stop instead of an abrupt halt.
The BMW X1 is a compact crossover for petrolheads. While other crossovers try to scratch the performance itch with brisk acceleration, the BMW puts focus into where it counts, handling.
The car is well equipped and has the signature built quality expected from a vehicle made in Germany. All these do come at a price though, with our xLine optioned X1 coming in at a sticker price of TK 92,00,000.
But is the premium price worth it? Well if you are a petrolhead with the necessary bank balance, yes. Not many crossovers in this segment will give you the sheer driving pleasure as the X1 does and it has all the bells and whistles expected from a modern family crossover.
Photos: Saikat Roy