The compact SUV market or rather the soft roader market has taken a new turn with the launch of the BMW X1. The very fact that it is going to intensify even more in the few coming months due to the impeding launch of many new soft roaders is a thrilling as well as worrying prospect for many. Thrilling because any new vehicle launch eventually creates a buzz around it and worrying because many who unknowingly would have booked any one of the established vehicles in the market would eventually start having second thoughts on if they made the right decision or not and whether they should have actually waited for some more time or not. Earlier on, people carried this notion that SUVs are big burly beasts which are actually a burden to drive and the only prowess they had was in bullying people. SUVs are nowadays seen as more upmarket versions of the sedans and ones which have more poser value than the so called sports cars. However not many or infact 99 percent of the SUV buyers would never use their vehicles for off-roading. That is where the term soft roaders set in. Today we have two capable petrol engined soft roaders, the Mitsubishi Outlander and also the BMW X1. Now, we had earlier compared the BMW X1 with the Honda CR-V (Honda CR-V in India versus BMW X1 in India) however the game has moved on now. The Honda CR-V is no longer the preferred set of 4 wheels as far as soft roaders go and also the very desirable BMW X1 has got a long waiting list. People are naturally thronging for the other soft roader, the Mitsubishi Outlander in India. So we have put the BMW X1 in India and the Mitsubishi Outlander face to face to determine the better SUV.
As far as looks are concerned, the BMW X1 is what you would call as typically ugly. Yes, it brings to mind the flame surfacing design themes by Chris Bangle. However the very thought of owning a blue and white propeller badge is enough for many to overlook its quirkiness. The high set fog lamps signal its soft roader intent and the head lamps are of the usual shape of BMW cars. There is an aluminum skid plate in the front and it is very prominently displayed. There is a long snout of a nose for this car and 17 inch alloy wheels for its boots. While the typical BMW runflat tyres make their presence felt, the alloy wheel design is certain to grab eyeballs for sure. The rear in the meanwhile shows typical BMW X series traits and wouldn’t be mistaken for anything but a BMW. The Mitsubishi Outlander in India has got that EVO fighter grille which no one would definitely miss out. Compared to the older Outlander model, this one gets an identity of its own. Not only that its indicators mated with the ORVMs clear shout volumes of its rallying DNA. The Outlander feels the bigger of the two and is taller as well. The 215/70R 16 tyre size is almost similar in design to the one that you usually get in older Honda Citys. The rear with its full LED design theme is somewhat shared with the Montero. The chunky tail pipes on both the cars however feel great.
Since beauty is always subject to dispute, even we faced a similar proposition. While the mind says Mitsubishi is the better design, the heart says the BMW it is. However for once, we would rather go by what the mind has to say and settle for the Mitsubishi Outlander’s design as overall stable.
The interiors is what usually define a car and Japanese cars usually cannot hold a candle to German interiors. But then the X1 we have on offer is nearly Rs 2 lakhs pricier than the Outlander and a base model at that one. While the Outlander’s interiors remind one of a playstation or video parlor, the BMW’s remind one of being seated in a Broadway musical theme. Different as chalk and cheese. The fighter plane theme is carried over to the interiors with the blue and white dials (Hyundai’s inspiration for their I range of cars) and the 3 spoke steering wheel with its clearly defined audio controls. However the interiors feel too much plasticky overall. Mention, however must be made of the wonderful Rockford Fosgate system which is brilliant with its thumping sound quality. The climate control buttons on the Mitsubishi also look fab while the ones on the BMW X1 in India look miniscule. BMW’s famed iDrive system is absent from the features list though. There is a lockable all wheel drive differential for the Outlander which again is highlighted. The BMW’s cabin feels uncluttered but somewhat claustrophobic. The Outlander with its high set seat outclasses the BMW’s small one though both are equally good in the comfort department. Getting a BMW so cheap doesn’t mean that BMW have compromised on their build quality a la Toyota with their Etios but then features have been skimped aplenty. The cheap feeling bits are present in the not too often felt areas like the lower inner part of the dashboard or the one towards the windscreen. As far as cubby holes are concerned, the Mitsubishi has got more than the BMW. Rear seat space is a tad better in the Mitsubishi whereas the BMW fights back with its better bolstering in the seats. BMW is a strict 4 seater with the high transmission tunnel intrusion while the Mitsubishi has a flatter area making it more comfortable to seat three in the rear. Boot space in the BMW stands at 430 liters while the Outlander provides more space with its 560 liters configuration. The split tail gate adds to the convenience factor as well.
Once again, the Mitsubishi Outlander wins this round due to the very fact of the better utilization of space and boasting of better features list than the BMW.
Handling and ride quality
When we talk of BMW cars, no one cares a damn about their handling. However since this is BMW’s cheapest car on Indian soil obviously questions would be raised on whether the handling has been forsaken at the altars of cost cutting. But be rest assured folks, the handling is still there. The steering wheel has shed some weight and doesn’t feel like you are holding a Tata Sumo’s manual power steering. But along with the welcome lightness, there is no vagueness associated. It is still as direct as it was when it was porky. The leather wrapping on the steering wheel also feels good. However driving the X1 in the city can be quite a handful. First of all, you have to be extra careful due to the long overhangs and plus the very fact that it’s a BMW that you are driving. Food for thought, eh! The Outlander however has a high set seating which allows one to drive it far more easily than the X1 and also place it exactly where one wants it to be. However on the twisties, the BMW is the better car to be in. It not only enables handles well, it more or less defies laws of physics (like the rest of the vehicles from its family). Guess, it has to be in the genes. The BMW X1 in India would feel more at ease in the autobahns as well. Come to think of it, this car is a rear wheel driven one while the Outlander is an on the demand all wheel drive one. The ride quality however was never BMW’s forte and they haven’t attempted to bend it in the X1 either. The X1 has a harsher ride especially because of the run flat tyres but then it isn’t as harsh as the one in the earlier 3 series. The Outlander in the meanwhile has a longer suspension travel which soaks up all the bumps irrespective of which speed it is traveling. Its steering wheel also provides decent feedback but then in front of the BMW’s communicative one, it fizzles out. NVH is decent in both with the X1 being the more vocal one of the two.
If its outright handling that you are looking for, then it’s the BMW X1 and if you are looking for a decent mix of both, then it’s the Mitsubishi Outlander. It is easier to drive also in the city. However it’s the Outlander which wins this stake due to its better ride quality (remember, it ranks higher on our list of priorities rather than handling).
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
Different capacity engines and different power outputs is what would define the engine characteristics of both the soft roaders here. The 1995 cc inline 4 cylinder engine of the BMW X1 in India makes 150 bhp of power and 200 Nm of torque. The 6 speed automatic transmission perfectly mates with the engine and gives decent performance to this 1530 kgs vehicle. The Outlander gets a much bigger 2.4 liter 4 cylinder Mivec engine which makes 170 Bhp of power and 226 Nm of torque. However it uses a power sapping 6 speed CVT. But then the Outlander turns out to be quicker than the BMW in the 0-100 figures. The BMW X1 took 12.5 seconds to reach that speed while the Outlander already reached there in 11 seconds. The CVT in the Outlander is quick to upshift but it’s a laggard as far as downshifting goes. The BMW’s unit begs to be revved, should you want to extract greater power from its 2 liter engine. The gear shifts are smooth however sometimes you notice a bit of hesitation. The fact that the BMW has a higher top speed of 200 kmph to that of the Mitsubishi’s 190 kmph is proof enough of the high revving nature of the BMW.
Brakes are fantastic for both and display an urgency which is second to none. Both are reasonably equipped as far as safety aids and braking assistants are concerned. Fuel efficiency is higher on the Outlander at 9.3 kmpl overall to the BMW’s 8.8 kmpl.
The Outlander again for its higher fuel efficiency and paddle shifts.
The BMW X1 in India has been bested by the Mitsubishi Outlander in India by all counts. Not only does the Mitsubishi win with better space, outstanding looks and even fuel efficiency but it also beats the BMW in price. The Outlander also has a better features list. Where it loses out is on the handling front and the Mitsubishi badge. If you replace the Mitsubishi badge with an Audi one, suddenly the Mitsubishi would make more sense. Probably Mitsubishi’s lack of opening up new service centers or retail outlets is what is hitting the Outlander’s sales. However one man’s loss is other man’s gain. The BMW is set to accomplish that. It has a more posh image and though the interiors are devoid of much features and space, it still has got a handsome cabin. It is the better handler and would delight those heading to the hill stations during weekends. BMW have ensured that they price this car very competitively so that customers coming for a certain Honda can actually look at this as a more worthwhile option. BMW has earned quite a reputation for excellent after sales and service than Mitsubishi. The fact is that Mitsubishi makes very good cars but sadly not many people know it. Coming to the point, the Mitsubishi Outlander is the clear winner if you are looking for a spacious 5 seater but the BMW makes its case when you are looking only for snob value. That is if you are ready to wait for 8 months. That is the waiting period that the BMW commands. The BMW X1 price in India starts from Rs 22 lakhs and goes all the way to Rs 27 lakhs. The Mitsubishi Outlander price in India starts from Rs 20.2 lakhs and goes upto Rs 22.3 lakhs. We have tested both the base variants here however the Mitsubishi doesn’t offer a diesel variant as of yet while the BMW offers both petrol and diesel options.
Our pick for the day is the Mitsubishi Outlander.