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BMW X1 in India – X factor review

Elsewhere in Europe or even in North America, sales of SUVs has been dwindling and the reason is the space that they take up or even their pathetic fuel economy in comparison with the smaller hatchbacks or sedans. Plus their bad boy image which was highlighted by Hummers(Is a Hummer an SUV would be a highly debated question). But then in India, the case is ulta. Indians love SUVs to the hilt and this reflects in the steep increase of SUV sales to the tune of 38%. Ecologically as well, our Environment Minister was famously quoted as saying that SUVs are more destructive as compared to other cars. But then why am I supporting the cause of SUVs in India. The reason would have been revealed with the title of this article. Yes, finally we have the BMW X1 at our disposal albeit for a stipulated time frame of 8 hours. Not enough time to go over its full credentials but then enough to bring to you the review report. It is well known fact that this is BMW’s first attempt at the lower strata of SUV segment and one that is locally manufactured. This puts the BMW X1 in India at a strategic price point with the others in its class. Plus it also affords to provide the luxury SUV buyer an entry into the BMW stables. To put things into perspective, we have both the high end versions of the petrol and diesel variants. Check on Road Price


The first time I saw the BMW X1 coming up the driveway to our office, I was surprised to note that it looked very big as compared to what it seemed at the time of its launch. Maybe that perception was there because the SUV was at standstill then and now it was in motion. European design cues abound with the 3D effect been displayed in the front. Chris Bangle take a bow out. The kidney grille and the blue white propeller logo project an up market image of any car and the BMW X1 in India is no different. Those 3 series like head lamps are beautifully chiseled. But then the fog lamps are also placed closer to the head lamps. More like the Skoda Yeti. But my initial impressions of the BMW X1 been a small thing came to the fore. Yes, it is a small SUV, just bigger than the Premier Rio maybe. It may be disappointing for a SUV driver to know that he would be eye balling other hatchback or even bike owners. Think of it and he is driving a SUV. The ORVMs are also body colored and aerodynamically lined. Oh, there is a skid plate at the front

The BMW X1 in India boasts of 17inch wheels for the Sdrive18i variant whereas the top of the line diesel i.e the sDrive20d gets 19 inchers. Both are alloy wheels but then the alloy wheel design differs in both and if you are a keen watcher, you can distinguish both. The way Maruti writes DdiS for its diesel models to distinguish the petrol and diesel ones, BMW have given the X1 monikers on its sides. Styling cues have been borrowed from bigger brothers X5 and X7 as also the BMW 1 series. The paint job is also exclusive to the BMW X1 and it isn’t shared with any other car from the BMW stables.

Go on to the rear and you would notice that the BMW X1 looks like a hatchback from the rear quarters. It has got the rear wiper for sure but somehow the kinkiness does set in. The tail lamps are split by the upper opening tail gate. On the body colored bumper lie the multi reflectors and beneath them, the single tail pipe. The stop lamp is mounted on the roof with a small protruding spoiler fulfilling both the aesthetics and aerodynamics part.


Since the BMW X1 in India has been built for a price, I expected the interiors to be somewhat on the lines of what Toyota did with the Etios. But then another surprise is that the interiors look far much like the BMW 3 series. The steering wheel is a new unit which has audio, cruise and Bluetooth controls. For the entry level variant, there is only a single CD player whereas for the top of the line variant, it changes to a 6 CD one. Moreover for the top of the line variant, you get leather seats and the new gen Idrive system. You also get parking sensors. The front seats are electronically powered and finding a good driving position isn’t a chore. One would even get a panoramic sunroof on the top of the line Exclusive variant. There is a gloss finish for the lower variants but then for the higher ones, it is wood finish all the way.

As far as the rear seats go, there is better space than the 3 series but then where the 3 series is a 5 seater, the BMW X1 is a 4 seater. The primary reason been that it has got a transmission tunnel intrusion in the rear which would make the middle passenger uncomfortable. If you are looking to seat a total of 4 passengers, then the BMW X1 is marginally more comfortable than the 3 series. The wheelbase of 2760 mm is shared with the BMW 3 series but then this car is marginally narrower than the BMW 3 series. The automatic climate control also works good. The front seats also have scoops at the back of them to make way for better leg room. The boot space is also very good but it does increase massively with the individually split seats. The BMW X1 interiors don’t feel cheap as I or rather everyone has thought. Infact it affirms the fact that BMW can make one of the best and high quality car cabins in the world.

Handling and ride quality

BMW and handling go hand in hand and there wouldn’t be any soul alive in the automobile world who will question the genuinity of a BMW as far as handling goes. Cut to the BMW X1 in India’s handling. To start off with it, the SUV gets the same underpinnings and chassis as the BMW 3 series. The steering wheel is the only cause of any major complaint for this soft roader. Like all BMWs, it is slightly hard to turn around at city speeds but then on the highway, it suddenly lightens up. Very disconcerting. I am sure that this thing would have to do with the initial batch of BMW X1’s been made in India and would be sorted out for the next batch or even before the delivery of the cars take place. But then ignore that part and the BMW X1 handles just like any BMW. Like the BMW 3 series, even this SUV is rear wheel driven and this means that it oversteers at the very limit. No one would like to corner fast in a car with a ground clearance of 194mm but then if it’s a BMW, close your eyes and turn the steering. The car will do your bidding. It is said that BMW may offer their fabled xDrive system on the BMW X1 later on but then that is still some time away and for the time been, this car should be kept strictly on the road.

Try off-roading and suddenly the ground clearance seems to have decreased. I am sure that no one would want to mess with the underpinnings of this expensive SUV. The ride quality however suffers due to the low profile nature of the top of the end version. Due to its somewhat stiff suspension, the shocks on the road are transmitted directly to the passengers. This is amplified more at low speeds. But then it isn’t something which cannot be beared. As far as handling aids go, the BMW X1 gets Dynamic Stability control. A component of it, the Dynamic Traction Control can be turned off via an on the board switch however the Dynamic Stability control can’t be turned off. I am not sure how many of the BMW X1 owners would even think of venturing out in the dirt with their precious entry of the BMW badge but then to fufill each and every niche is BMW’s mantra. We automobile scribes are eagerly awaiting the 4 wheel drive system for some fun with dunes and off-road tracks.

BMW X1 Photo Gallery

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

The BMW X1 in India is offered with 2 engine options. Needless to say, they have been plucked from the BMW 3 series sedan. The 2 liter petrol engine boasts of 156 Ps of peak power at 6400 rpm whereas the torque figure is rated at 200 Nm at 3600 rpm. The diesel on the other hand is a 2.0 liter unit which has a variable geometry turbocharger and direct injection technology. It pumps out 178 Ps of peak power at 4100 rpm whereas the torque generated is 350 Nm between 1750-3100 rpm. Both these engines are in the same state of tune as the 3 series in India. They get a 6 speed automatic transmission which also has a sports mode. Performance is blistering, more so with the diesel(BMW is more known for its diesels as against the 6 cylinder petrols). The diesel engined BMW X1 races from 0-100 kmph in only 8.9 seconds and goes all the way to a top speed of 203 kmph. The petrol engined BMW X1 covers the 0-100 kmph distance in 13.4 seconds and reaches a top speed of 196 kmph. Both the motors are eager to rev but in this case the diesel clearly outshines the petrol.

Braking department is taken care by ventilated discs at the front and solid ones at the rear. Needless to say, the vast array of electronic aids supporting them are ABS, EBD, DSC and DTC. About the braking, BMW’s EfficientDynamics program comes into picture. While braking, the system captures the braking energy and in turns charges the battery. There were many other long terms and explanations given in the BMW brochure but then they would take up half a day of writing. Safety aspect as always is top notch in the BMW X1 in India as can be expected from all the BMWs. Energy absorbing and deflecting components make the chassis of the car, 4 air bags and crash activated head rests play an important role.

Fuel efficiency is also top notch as BMW is regarded as one of the premium manufacturers in India with a good standing in the fuel efficiency ratings for their products. The petrol variant returned 10.6 kmpl in the city whereas the highway saw it stretching the litre of crude to a high 18.3 kms. The diesel variant on the other end ended up with figures of 11.4 kmpl in city and 19.1 kmpl on the highway.


The BMW X1 in India is a significant product for the manufacturer since it is looking to boost the volumes and also penetrate down to the core of the automobile business. If all goes well with the BMW X1 sales in India(they should do well considering over 2,200 cars have been booked in a month), BMW may even think of building a car for the masses. The small car is still in concept stages and would be ready by 2015 if reports are to be believed. Well, it has got the road presence, plush interiors, low price(for a BMW) plus engine performance and fuel efficiency. Till then it would be the BMW X1 as the lowest priced BMW car in India. There are three variants available namely the BMW X1 sDrive 18i , BMW X1 sDrive 20d , BMW X1 sDrive 20d Exclusive The BMW X1 price in India starts from Rs 22,00,000 and ends at Rs 29,90,000 for the top of the line variant. Those looking to book these cars need to wait for 4-5 months according to the dealers. Even if you go for the base diesel variant, it would be worth every penny of your hard earned money. The top end only boasts of better audio system, leather interiors and some of the goodies but then one would find them amiss or crave for them. Its competition would be the Mitsubishi Outlander, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota Fortuner and the Chevrolet Captiva based on the price point. BMW is also looking to steal some from those executive sedan seekers of the likes of Volkswagen Passat, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Teana and the Skoda Superb. May be even couple from Mercedes C-class and the Audi A4 clients.

Technical specifications of BMW X1 sDrive 18i

Engine details: 2.0L, 4 Valve Petrol Engine with 4 Cylinder
Maximum Power: 156 Ps of peak power at 6400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 200 Nm at 3600 rpm
No. of Cylinders: 4
Valves Per Cylinder: 4
Turbo Charger: Yes
Transmission details: 6 speed Automatic with sports mode
Steering details: Electronic Power Steering with rack and pinion
Top Speed: 196 kmph
Acceleration (0-100 kmph): 13.4 Seconds
Mileage-City (kmpl): 10.6
Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 18.3
Fuel Type: Petrol
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 55
Emission Norm Compliance: BS IV
Tyre Size: 225/50 R17
Alloy Wheel Size: 17 Inch
No of Doors: 5
Cargo Volume: 420 Litres expandable to 1350 Litres with rear seats down

Technical specifications of BMW X1 sDrive 20d Exclusive

Engine details: 1995cc, 4 Valve Diesel Engine with 4 Cylinders and common rail tech
Maximum Power: 178 Ps @ 4100 rpm
Maximum Torque: 350 Nm at 1700-3500 rpm
No. of Cylinders: 4
Valves Per Cylinder: 4
Turbo Charger: Yes
Transmission details: 6 speed Automatic with sports mode
Steering details: Electronic Power Steering with rack and pinion
Top Speed: 203 kmph
Acceleration (0-100 kmph): 8.9 Seconds
Mileage-City (kmpl): 11.4
Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 19.1
Fuel Type: Diesel
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 55
Emission Norm Compliance: BS IV
Tyre Size: 225/50 R19
Alloy Wheel Size: 19 Inch
No of Doors: 5
Cargo Volume: 420 Litres expandable to 1350 Litres with rear seats down

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