FAMILIES with premium tastes will find an enticing offering on the cluttered luxury sports utility vehicle car menu.
BMW has just launched the all-new X1 compact SUV, which comes with vastly improved interior space and extra standard kit.
The improvements are forecast to lure new drivers to the brand, enticing them away from mainstream offerings and getting new generations behind the propeller badge.
The X1 entry price has risen $3200 and now starts from $49,500 for the sDrive18d. The sDrive20i will retail for $51,600 (up $3300), xDrive20d from $56,500 (up $400) and xDrive25i from $59,900 (same as outgoing 28i).
For now it's only the all-wheel variants in Australia (featuring the xDrive nomenclature), front-wheelers will arrive in December.
Mechanical changes have not only enabled a more muscular exterior design, but the cabin reaps benefits of having less overhang at the front and more at the rear.
The new X1 is actually 15mm shorter than its predecessor, yet the rear passengers have 64mm of additional legroom.
Surprisingly, the back pew offers generous space for two long-legged adults.
Interior layout is trademark BMW, the operation is basic yet functional, although there is nothing ground-breaking and it's a similar across the range. Pivotal to the various operations is the circular dial and the surrounding buttons which enable the user to traverse through stereo, various trip information, sat nav along with some impressive BMW tech like live traffic updates and access to local Google searches.
The pews can be a touch firm, those with their own built-in padding would probably disagree, but the front chairs hug the body and have impressive fore and aft range. Rear seats also have sliding range of 13cm.
On the road
Accomplished and well-mannered, the two all-wheel drive offerings proved adept on smooth coastal highways through to sketchy bitumen and gravel tracks.
This new X1 can only handle a four-cylinder donk due to architecture changes, and rarely will the driver feel like it requires additional grunt.
The 2.0-litre diesel has smooth and torquey power delivery. It feels nimble and underworked with the eight-speed box happy to kick down a few cogs in rapid succession whenever you summon the horses.
For those seeking some extra fun there's the range-topping 25i which is a touch quicker and feels sportier. It boasts a more rapid 0-100kmh sprint time and is lighter on its feet - although the 19-inch low-profile rubber can mean a compromise on road noise.
The steering is perhaps unlike a traditional BMW due to its light feel, but that will suit the buyer in the category seeking ease of use and power at the ready for swift overtaking or darting into traffic. It's hardly sports car territory and those getting behind the wheel of a compact SUV want ride height and flexibility rather than race track prowess.
What do you get?
New standard equipment includes a rear view camera across the range, 18-inch alloys, sat nav, real time traffic information, power tailgate, rear seat adjustment and LED headlights.
Add to that improved safety via lane departure and forward collision warning features, front and rear parking sensors and automatic parking.
With the extra kit the basic X1 is a pretty good package, with automatic lights and wipers, 16.5cm colour screen, full bluetooth connectivity, dual zone air con and man-made leather trim.
The 20i and 20d get a sports transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but the real value equation is in the 25i.
BMW says it values the new kit in the 25i at about $12,000, so for the same coin as the outgoing range-topping model you get all the cool stuff, like head-up digital display, larger 22.3cm colour screen with upgraded sat nav, electric adjustment of front seats with heating function, 19-inch alloys, sport steering, Dakota leather and a tailgate that can automatically open when you standard behind and give a small kick under a sensor.
The massive two-stage 505-litre boot can swallow a large suitcase along with a pair of smaller ones with some room to spare, which makes the X1 a perfect family fit.
Convenience comes via the power tailgate, while the rear seats drop in a 40-20-40 split. An added bonus is they fold at the pull of a switch in the boot.
Two cup holders up front, another pair in the fold down arm-rest in the back, bottle holders in the doors and an adjustable centre console with an excellent nook for phones, wallets and keys is close to the USB and auxiliary ports.
Fuel consumption figures are predictably frugal, averaging between 4.1 and 6.6 litres for every 100km, but vital to the car's success will be the service packages available that removes trepidation surrounding maintenance costs.
While boasting German engineering precision, there is an Australian feel to the design. The X1 was penned by Sydney-born Calvin Luk and he's done a stellar job.
Previous iterations of the compact SUV have tended to look malnourished, but the north-west engine configuration has enabled key design changes to provide a more planted and well-proportioned appearance.
It starts with the bold kidney grille, tougher underbody guards and more aggressive profile lines for car which doesn't look like you've sacrificed style just to get the propeller badge.
Not so long ago, you could get into a BMW for about $40k. But it felt like you had skimped on the quality with limited features.
Things have changed and the X1 packed with good kit, meaning you don't need to raid the options list to get a car befitting the luxury genre.
BMW has produced a winner with the X1 courtesy of its size which will appeal to drivers wanting the high driver position, good looks, badge kudos and excellent interior space.
What matters most
What we liked: Confident driving dynamics, interior and boot space, servicing packages.
What we'd like to see: Some extra cushioning of the seats, less cost for metallic paint.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Condition-based servicing with intervals about every 30,000km or two years. Service pack available covering five years or 80,000km for $1140.
Model: BMW X1.
Details: Five-door five-seat front and all-wheel drive compact sports utility vehicle.
Engines: sDrive18d - 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel generating maximum power of 110kW @ 4000rpm and peak torque of 330Nm @ 1750-2750; sDrive20i - 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol 141kW @ 5000-6000rpm and 280Nm @ 1250-4600rpm; xDrive20d - 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo diesel 140kW @ 4000rpm and 400Nm @ 1750-2500rpm; xDrive25i - 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol 170kW @ 5000-6000rpm and 350Nm 350Nm @ 1250-4500rpm.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.
Consumption: 18d - 4.1L/100km (combined average); 20i - 5.9L/100km; 20d - 4.9L/100km; 25i - 6.6L/100km.
CO2: 18d - 109g/km; 20i - 136g/km; 20d - 129g/km; 24i - 149g/km.
Performance 0-100kmh: 18d - 9.2 seconds; 20i - 7.7; 20d - 7.6 seconds; 25i - 6.5 seconds.
Bottom line plus on-roads: sDrive18d $49,500, sDrive20i $51,600, xDrive20d $56,500, for xDrive25i $59,900.
Driving experience 17/20
Features and equipment 18/20
Functionality and comfort 19/20
Value for money 18/20
Style and design 18/20