The BMW X1 isn't a complicated vehicle. There are no extraordinary bells and whistles that a salesperson could easily latch on and harp till your signature is on the booking form. However, that doesn't mean the X1 sDrive20i is stripped down to just its bones because what this SUV has is enough to make it quite outstanding.
The X1 you see here has been dressed up in an attempt to have it jump out from the crowd. Not that it needed a complete facelift, the X1 already appeals with its robust shape. The high roofline and beltline, together with a short snout, make the X1 look like a proper crossover now instead of the first generation vehicle.
A merged kidney grille, redesigned bumper and more oversized air intakes add dynamism to the front. The LED headlights and taillights now wear the company's latest set. The X1 also comes with the Lights Package that includes a Welcome Light Carpet that beams down 'X1' from the wing mirrors every time the SUV is unlocked.
Of course, like most BMW's offered these days, the X1 is also accessorised with M Sport bits. Together with the Individual High-gloss Shadow Line trim, the M Aerodynamics Package dresses up the metal while adding some level of efficiency at the same time. For better optics, the tailpipes are more prominent, up from 70mm to 90mm and the 18-inch M double-spoke style light-alloy wheels complete the X1's latest form.
The X1's interior looks and feels classy even as it seems basic when stacked up with the latest Bimmers and their fancier buttons. Nevertheless, it continues to cosset passengers with soft-touch materials and comfortably padded seats. The trimming is finished in brushed aluminium and Pearl Chrome that does justice to the premium-brand badge.
In a time where bigger screens signal a more premium vehicle, the X1 manages a rightly-sized 8.8-inch touchscreen on the dashboard. The iDrive Controller, BMW's human-machine interface, is familiar to the touch, especially when you've just come in from an F30. With more instrument clusters adopting a fully digital screen approach, the X1's analogue hands and indices feel like slurping warm noodle soup on a cold rainy night.
Rear passengers can sit comfortably in the spacious rear. There's space for legs to get into any comfortable position, and it is possible to slide the feet under the front seats to a bit of stretching. Further back, the boot space isn't wide, although it is deep and can be expanded to 1,550 litres with the rear-seat wall dropped.
All the while, you're seated tall in the front, even when the seats are pushed low. The large greenhouse lets you see more outside, making navigation in tighter roads easier to judge. While you may feel tall, the X1 M Sport is actually lower than the standard.
The drop in right height is hard to notice, but it is there, courtesy of the M Sport Suspension, lowering the vehicle 10mm closer to the road. This suspension is set more rigidly than the standard spring and dampers. The ride is noticeably harder but never uncomfortable, even when you decide to trample on rough roads to find a quiet place for photographs.
Although an SUV with a seemingly tall roofline, the X1 drives very much like a hatchback would. The sport suspension dials back the body roll and dials up quick directional changes without upsetting stability. It will even play along in taking corners with more spirit and then letting you know it had too much with a touch of understeer, as it should. Plainly put, the X1 is tidy handling puts surety in its driving dynamics.
On the highway, the X1's grip adds confidence at higher speeds. The 192hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine certainly gets you there and up to a top speed of 224kph. It's quick from standstill also with 280Nm of peak torque appears from 1,350rpm for a decent 0-100kph in 7.6 seconds.
The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission does not feel like a typical dual-clutch transmission, especially at low speeds. It shifts silently regardless of the engine speed or load, allowing enough power to the wheels for lively acceleration.
Where the X1 succeeds is how it makes the daily commute entertaining, as it gobbles up the miles and pootles around the city. The SUV delights with hatchback-like driving dynamics while dragging along a larger boot as if it's nothing. It also makes one unafraid to enter Ikea during a sale.
So, save the sports car for Sundays; the BMW X1 is the vehicle to drive for the rest of the week.
Specification: BMW X1 sDrive20i M Sport
Engine 1,998cc, 4-cylinder, inline-4, turbocharged | Transmission 7-speed DCT, front-wheel drive | Power & Torque 192hp @ 5,000-6,000rpm / 280Nm @ 1,350-4,600rpm | Performance 0-100kph in 7.6s, max speed 228kph, combined fuel consumption 6.5l/100km, 149g/km CO2 | Price RM230,410.00 (on-the-road without insurance, minus sales tax)