PryZ2cBI 2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i 1
2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i 1

BMW X1: Thinking outside the three

2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i 2

What is it?

The new BMW X1 is a little car with big ideas.

BMW has imbued the third generation of its compact SUV with extra space, higher tech and more features to make it what the company claims is segment leader. I tend to agree.

Coming to Australia in two petrol powered variants (an electric version is penned for later this year), the entry-level is the X1 sDrive18i front wheel drive, followed by the X1 xDrive20i all-wheel drive.

The base model now includes such things as keyless entry/start, sports seats, a 10.7-inch multimedia touchscreen, a 10.25-inch instrument cluster, ‘Hey BMW!’ voice control, a head-up display, GPS with augmented reality view, dual-zone climate control, adaptive LED headlights, a powered tailgate, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist and a blind-spot monitor. 

2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i 3

What’s it cost?

Added attractions have upped prices to $60,400, plus on road costs, for the sDrive18i and $70,400, plus on-roads, for the xDrive20i.

Two added-cost enhancement packages are available. An M Sport Package pumps the price up to $73,400.

The sDrive18i on test sported Enhancement One, which delivered metallic paint, panoramic glass sunroof, driving assistant professional, electrically adjustable front  seats and sliding rear seats, Harman Kardon premium audio and 19-inch alloy wheels — all for an extra $6513.

However, there is one oddity: a subscription system by which the bones of heated seats and steering wheel are embedded in the Aussie released X1, but the skeleton only comes to life if the owner pays $29 a month up to a lifetime $589.

BMW claims it saves the buyer money: really!

While the new X1 has put on the inches, the compact SUV maintains near perfect proportions, all the way from its expansive rejigged signature kidney-style radiator grille, via a curved roofline, to a neat-and-tidy no nonsense rear. 

With a typical squared-off SUV stance, extensive glass makes for panoramic views of surroundings from all seating positions. 

Bye-bye buttons is the catchphrase here, with the need to dig into the touchscreen for several vehicle systems, the most annoying being for the climate control air-con.

Gone is the iDrive rotary control knob of yore too. In its place is the engine start/stop button, electronic gearshift switch and audio volume roller.

The centre console itself is a bridging version with a large open space underneath for easy-access storage.

At the base of the centre stack is a phone charging point which holds the handset in a near vertical plane, making it easy to view when in position.

A 10.7-inch centre screen, plus 10.25-inch digital instrument display are sharp as a tack to view and responsive to inputs.

‘Hey BMW’ voice commands now have more options.     

X1 carries a five-star safety rating based on 2022 Euro NCAP tests.

Standard features include upgraded autonomous emergency braking forward and reverse with pedestrian and cyclist detection and junction assist adaptive cruise control including stop and go, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, high-beam assist, lane change warning (blind-spot), lane departure warning, parking sensors front and rear, rear cross-traffic alert, reversing assistant and surround view (360-degree cameras).

The body structure has had a boost and there are front, side, curtain and front-centre airbags on hand in the event of an ‘unscheduled incident’.

The car is covered by a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with three years complimentary 24/7 roadside assistance.

2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i 4

What’s it go like?

With the X1 now rivalling the dimensions of the first X3, it’s no surprise this new car feels like a medium SUV.

Wrap around front seats offer excellent support in day-to-day motoring, and while on the firm side, maintain a level of comfort welcome on long trips.

Two adults can sit in relative comfort behind a similar pair in front, with good head, knee and legroom — even with the panoramic roof.

The middle position is fit only for short trips or small children.

ISOFIX anchors are positioned on the outboard seats as well as top-tether points across all three.

Comfort is bolstered by adjustable air vents behind the centre console, two USB-C charge ports, pockets behind the front seats, bottle holders in the doors and a fold-down centre armrest with cup holders.

Behind the 40:20:40 split folding rear bench is room for 540 litres of cargo with all seats in use, expanding to a generous 1600 litres with the second-row seat backs folded flat.

No room for a spare, only a tyre repair kit.

Power in the X1 sDrive18i comes from a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine developing 115kW at 6500 rpm and 230Nm between 1500 and 4600 rpm, driving the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Despite featuring a three-cylinder  turbocharged petrol engine, the X1 sDrive 18i performs as well as the ditched four-cylinder motor at low speeds in city traffic.

Tuning is the key here, with the newbie, following an at-times tardy take-off, running with relative ease through the rev band.

No neck-snapping acceleration, but according to BMW, at 9.0 seconds on the way to a top speed of 215km/h, it’s still 0.6 seconds quicker to 100 km/h than the previous model.

Overtaking on the open road can raise a few questions about the missing pot, though.

The maker claims combined fuel consumption of 6.5L/100km.

The test X1 sDrive 18i clocked an average of 7.2L with 95 RON premium unleaded over the test period.

Steering has been the subject of attention from engineers and is smooth and responsive in town.

Yet it is able to cope with assurance on the open road or hilly twists and turns.

Wind and engine noise allow a normal level of conversation between occupants, the only blemish being some tyre noise on coarser road surfaces.

2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i 5

What we like?

  • Near perfect proportions
  • Charge and see phone at same time
  • Easy access storage
  • Comfortable for four adults

2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i 6

What we don’t like?

  • Odd subscription system
  • Aircon controls relegated to touchscreen
  • Tyre repair kit
  • Tyre noise on coarse bitumen

2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i 7

The bottom line?

Traditionally blinkered by driving  performance at the expense of features, BMW has flipped with the new X1.

With the vehicle’s ambitions to be a medium-size SUV, it is well on the way to being a friend of the family.

2023 BMW X1 sDrive18i 8


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BMW X1 sDrive18i, priced from $60,400
  • Looks - 7/10
  • Performance - 7/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 7/10

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