Fat-free SUV
BMW X1 sDrive18i Review

Story and Photos by Raymond Lai
9 Sep 2010

A premium SUV that is easy to manage and without the guilt of one. That'll be the BMW X1.

Diet formula

BMW calls it SAV or Sports Activity Vehicle but for simplicity, we generally call the X5 a SUV. Now, BMW has put the X5 on the photocopier, pressed the 60 percent button to give us a cut sized SAV in the form of the X1.

It was logical for BMW to launch something like the X1 to the market as none of its immediate rivals (read Audi and Mercedes-Benz) offer a compact premium SUV that is roughly the size of the popular Volkswagen Golf. With the X1, BMW has a head start over Audi in this segment as the latter's Q3 will only be out next year at the earliest.

Despite its ‘1' moniker, the X1 is actually based on the 3 Series rather than the 1 Series. At 4454mm in length, 1798mm wide and 1545mm tall, the X1 is significantly more compact than the soon-to-be-replaced 4569mm, 1987mm and 1674mm X3. Compared to the 3 Series saloon, the X1 is 77mm shorter but it is a significant 215mm longer than the five-door 1 Series hatchback. The X1 looks very well-proportioned indeed for a compact SUV.

The nose treatment looks far more successful than the regular 1 series models'. The size of the X1's headlamps and double kidney grille at least appear proportionate to the overall size of the car - the 1 Series models have headlamps that look too big for the car's relatively petite dimensions. Along the flanks, the X1 is pure BMW - there's that characteristic Hoftmeister kink on the rear pillar while the black plastic wheel arch extensions and matte aluminium side sills toughen up the X1's stance a tad.

With less than generous ground clearance, it is pretty obvious that the X1 is not a SUV made to go off tarmac, tackle boulders and rocks or bath itself in mud. All in all, the X1 isn't exactly the prettiest SUV around but it looks well-proportioned and rather purposeful and not forgetting that it looks far better than the soon-to-be-replaced X3.

Due to the X1's compact dimensions and relatively low ride height though, it doesn't have the presence and sense of aloofness that is normally associated with premium brand SUVs. This can be a disadvantage to women buyers who typically want an SUV as they feel more secure to drive such a big, tall and imposing car.


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Engine Capacity 1995cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 150bhp @ 6400rpm
Torque 200Nm @ 3600rpm
Power to Weight 99.7 bhp per ton


Acceleration 10.4s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 200 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 11.9 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed Auto Tiptronic
Drive Type F4


Body Type SUV
(L x W x H)
(4454 x 1798 x 1545) mm
Wheelbase 2760 mm
Kerb Weight 1505 kg


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs