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BMW X1 sDrive16i xLine Review: Cleverly Dodging the Taxman

And being a brilliant luxury car while at it, too.
James Wong
James Wong
06 Mar 2023
... the X1 is one of the best examples of its type.
What we like:
Excellent build quality
Refinement is great
Fantastic engine
Design is sharp and futuristic
What we dislike:
Steering could do with more feel

As you may have read, Budget 2023 made a great number of cars a lot more expensive.

Thankfully, the BMW X1 just narrowly dodges any increases in cost, thanks to its OMV which sits just below the $40,000 threshold (the xLine at $37k and M Sport at $38k). And because it has been in Category A for COE all along with a neutral emissions banding, you’re getting a pretty great deal with the X1. Why? Simply because it’s a bona fide luxury car, and a pretty good one at that.

It sits 44 mm taller and 53 mm wider than the outgoing model, and it shows. If you sit inside, you’d be forgiven if you thought you were in an X3. There’s plenty of room, and the quality is high. There is even a wireless mobile phone charger that comes with its own securing handle like on a roller-coaster. No longer is the X1 compromised on space or luxury; it has really matured and come into its own.

There are options found in more expensive models that are standard in the X1, like LED headlamps and a fully featured iDrive with OS8. Even its rims, paired with the fetching orange hue of the press car, shouts more “premium” than anything else. OK, it has enlarged kidney grilles which may scare off children, but here they have been tempered down to a visually manageable size. I think with the emphasis on flat creases and clean lines, the X1 looks fantastic.

You may think that being a ‘16i’ badged car, the X1 would feel sluggish and anaemic. It could not be further from the truth. The 122 bhp 3-cylinder 1.5-litre engine codenamed B38 is a brilliant little motor, no doubt drawing its excellence from its B48/58 siblings. With 230 Nm of torque available from just 1,500 rpm, the X1 always feels up for a peppy drive, especially when paired with the excellent 7-speed Steptronic double-clutch gearbox. Of course, driven spiritedly it can be rather thirsty, averaging around 10-11 km/l. But you can be sure you’d be having fun while doing so.

The chassis is stiff but the car rides well, like a much larger car. Refinement is class-leading and is not let down by the engine at all, which sounds rather fruity and pleasant at load. Although there is not much steering feel, it is precise and true to one’s inputs. By now, most people would have gotten over the fact that BMW makes front-wheel drive cars, and the X1 is one of the best examples of its type.

The X1 left a really strong impression, and is definitely one of the highlights of the BMW range in recent memory.

Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club


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BMW X1 sDrive16i Inspiring(A) 2023

BMW X1 sDrive16i Inspiring(A) 2023

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