The BMW X1 has taken the Indian market by storm. Except for the Maruti Kizashi, almost all of the vehicles launched within the last 6 months have got enormous bookings. Classic examples are the Nissan Micra diesel, Toyota Etios and the Hyundai Santa Fe. The reason for the exceptional bookings for the others was quite evident however for the BMW X1, it was unexpected. Maybe it’s the lure of the BMW badge coupled with a low cost(in terms of BMW speak) proposition. Think of any other petrol soft roader which falls in this price range. The only name which pops up is the Honda CR-V. Wait, but then the Honda CR-V is pricier by the BMW X1 by approximately Rs 2 lakhs. I am sure many would be aghast that Honda have gone to such levels to price their car above a BMW. Hmm. Bone for thought? You bet. We at Indiandrives decided to pitch both this contenders for the premium petrol soft roader tag. For the moment, we would like to cover the badges in the front and inside the cars to have an unbiased decision.
BMW X1: This is the newer of the designs and hence we have put it to the forefront. Typical BMW as one would say with that twin kidney grille. Showing its soft roader roots are the fog lamps which are placed close to the head lamps assembly. Since this is a battle of “cheap” soft roaders, we have taken the lowest trim level amongst each. The Corona head lamps are missing so. There is an aluminium skid plate in the front. 17 inch multi spoke alloy wheels and body colored bumpers define the side profile. The rear also carries the same radical styling as the front and gets the aluminium skid plate with a single tail pipe unit.
Honda CR-V: The Honda CR-V is taller as compared to the BMW X1. It gets typical Japanese design elements. The fog lamps here have been placed at a slightly lower level than the BMW X1’s. The outside rear view mirrors have the turn indicators embedded in them. The Honda CR-V in India also gets 17 inch alloy wheels but then the alloy wheel design is not so radical as the BMW X1 in India. The side profile also displays the coupe like stance. The rear is disappointing as compared with the BMW X1. It gets those vertically stacked tail lamps which look cheap for such an expensive car. At the rear, there is a skid plate with a single tail pipe unit.
The BMW X1 is dwarfed by the Honda CR-V and hence inspite of the design edge that the BMW possess, the Honda CR-V still wins based on the towering presence that a SUV owner looks forward to.
BMW X1: The small proportions on the outside do translate to a feeling of less spaciousness inside as well. You sit low in the BMW X1 but then that is compensated by the quality feel abounding all around. This would make you realize that you are actually sitting in a BMW. Though one or two of the interior features have been axed in the starting variant, we didn’t miss them. The front seats are comfy and provide good lumbar and thigh support. The rear is where the problem starts. Since we have two or three staffers who are 6 feet and above, seating at the rear was a bit of a problem with legs rubbing against the front seat and hairstyles been in a jeopardy of getting changed. Due to the high transmission tunnel intrusion, the BMW X1 becomes a strict 4 seater. Since this is a 4 seater, boot space is also good at 430 liters and the individual seats split to provide more space if needed. Automatic climate control as well as steering mounted controls are a boon in the BMW X1 in India. Sadly, there is no spare wheel and only a puncture repair kit available.
Honda CR-V: The Honda CR-V in India is a very spacious 5 seater soft roader. If you are looking to spend more time in the back seat, then look no further than the Honda CR-V, price and badge be damned. It can seat 5 comfortably with its low and flat floor. The driver’s seat gives one a commanding view of the road. The Honda has a bigger steering wheel as compared to the BMW and this steering has audio and cruise controls in it. There is a clutter of buttons in the center stack as compared to the BMW. Interior quality is no match to the one in the BMW. Honda knows one thing the best, space utilization. Boot space is also very usable. Unlike the BMW, the Honda gets a full size spare wheel.
Tough one this one with the BMW having better put interiors and the Honda clawing its way back with better space utilization. We would go for the Honda as space matters the most.
Handling and ride quality
BMW X1: Been built on the same chassis as the BMW 3 series endows the BMW X1 with a certain nimbleness which is usually lacking in soft roaders. The steering wheel though not chunky enough is a typical BMW unit having a certain heaviness in city speeds and been light on the highway, but not overtly so. Well, as we have mentioned in the review of the same, there is no other soft roader in the market in this price bracket which handles like the BMW X1. Agreed, it has pronounced body roll but then itsn’t as overt as the competition. The ride quality even on run flats is better than the one on the BMW 3 series. At low speeds, the soft roader absorbs all the bumps but then up the ante and all those pot holes come crashing inside the cabin. Cabin noise is nicely insulated. Been a rear wheel drive vehicle, all the joy of driving would be attained only on a gravelly path.
Honda CR-V: The Honda CR-V in India was the ride and handling champion until now for all those looking at a premium soft roader. The steering wheel, though not direct as the BMW X1, is still the best effort from Honda in India. It gets the somewhat dead feeling after a turn has been executed but then it is light in its operation in the city. Unlike the BMW where you would be tired if you are going to be only driving in the city, the Honda feels very agile. Ride quality on the Honda is also of high order but then you do hear all what is happening underneath. If there are any sharp ruts coming your way, the CR-V would transmit them as it is. NVH is also slightly on the upper side when compared with the BMW.
The BMW X1 in India wins this round since when you mention handling, there is no other road going thing that can upset a BMW’s handling and the X1 is no exception.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
BMW X1: The BMW X1 in India is offered in 2 engine options but then since we are talking about petrol engine, we would only check out the petrol one. It is labeled as BMW X1 sDrive 18i. The engine is the 2 liter NFE petrol engine which has 150 Bhp of power on tap @ 6400 rpm whereas the torque rating is 200 Nm at 3600 rpm. It is aligned with a 6 speed automatic transmission which has a sports mode option to it. The low end torque is good and then the top end. But in the middle nothing happens. This is evident from the 0-100 kmph run times of 13.2 seconds and a top speed of 194 kmph. To extract any serious performance, the motor has to be flogged throughly. Brakes are discs all around with EBD, ABS, DTC and DSC available. All these make for a safe braking experience. Additionally even under urgent braking, the vehicle maintains its composure. Safety as expected is top notch with 4 air bags, energy absorbing beams, 3 point seat belts and active pretensioners. Fuel economy was 10.3 kmpl in the city cycle whereas the open highway brought up 17.8 kmpl.
Honda CR-V: The Honda CR-V in India is offered with two petrol engines. It is another thing that the company is thinking of getting a diesel later on in this year. As of now, it is petrol bastion. The real time 4 wheel drive system enabled auto option was the one that we had on test. It was actually the top end version of the petrol motor for Honda CR-V. to be fair, the reason behind this since the BMW X1 is offered only in auto version, the 2WD version of the Honda CR-V is available only in manual. Anyways, the Engine that we have on test here is the 2.4 liter 4 cylinder one which makes 161 Bhp of peak power at 5800 rpm whereas the peak torque of 220 Nm is generated at 4200 rpm. It is mated with a 5 speed auto transmission. The CR-V rewards a keen driver who with a gentle prod on the accelerator wants to make rapid progress. The 0-100 kmph speed run comes up in 10.54 seconds whereas the top speed is in the region of 187 kmph. Brakes are discs all around with ABS and EBD thrown in. The 4×4 option also works well for some off-roading excursions. Safety is handled by 6 air bags, the Honda G-con body, 3 point seat belts for all the occupants and collapsible steering wheel. Fuel efficiency is a point down than the BMW X1 at 8.4 kmpl in the city and 13.5 kmpl on the highway.
The BMW X1 is down on power but then it gets the job done whereas the Honda’s silky smooth motor is a treat to drive. Honda CR-V wins this round inspite of not having a good fuel economy.
It is certainly clear from the aforementioned tests that the Honda CR-V reigns in supreme in front of a BMW. Come to think of it. Even before this test was conducted, everyone at office was sure that the Honda CR-V would be just a feather in the path of the hurricane named as BMW X1. But then after the test, the results were clear for everyone. The BMW X1 in India is a good product no doubt and one which would definitely earn you the bragging rights over the Honda CR-V at the local clubs. But then not everything is about showing off. The Honda CR-V is a better buy simply because it has the presence of a soft roader, better engine, Honda reliability, good interior space and is overall a nice car to drive. The BMW X1 on the other hand has the BMW badge on its side, good looks, better put interiors and fuel efficiency. Lest we forget, it also has a price advantage over the Honda CR-V. The BMW X1 sDrive 18i price is Rs 22 lakhs whereas the price of the Honda CR-V AT 2.4 version is Rs 25 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai. The BMW X1 has a 3 lakhs price advantage and at that price, you can get the base diesel and save yourselves some more cash. If you go by logic of saving cash and getting an entry into the BMW brigade, you would put all your money for the BMW X1 whereas if you want to travel king size and also sometimes have some fun in the mud, it is the Honda CR-V for you.