2012 BMW X1
2012 BMW X1; photo courtesy BMW. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2012 BMW X1

Richmond Hill, Ontario – If you like the BMW X5, but find it a bit too brawny (and pricey), and you like the BMW X3 but still find its size outpaces your needs, BMW has a solution. It’s the new 2012 BMW X1 xDrive28i.

Basically, as the X3 is a scaled-down X5, so the X1 xDrive is a correspondingly scaled-down X3. Starting at $38,500, the X1 xDrive has the same SUV profile as the X3 and X5, and rides on the same all-wheel drive xDrive system, but the smaller package makes it a nimbler, more fuel-efficient and more affordable alternative.

In North America, the X1 xDrive is currently a Canada-only vehicle. BMW Canada expects it to account for 11 to 12 per cent of its total sales, or about 3,000 vehicles each year.

There’s not much on the market that’s comparable in size and performance to the X1 xDrive; certainly no similar luxury vehicles. An Audi A3 is considerably smaller and a Volkswagen Tiguan is bigger, as is the whole category of compact SUVs, but if you add 10 centimetres to the length of the Toyota Matrix, you’ve pretty much got it. The comparison ends there, however, especially when you factor in performance.

2012 BMW X1
2012 BMW X1
2012 BMW X1
Top photo (X1) courtesy BMW; bottom two photos (xDrive28i) by Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge

That’s because the X1 xDrive features a new, four-cylinder direct-injected and turbocharged engine, driven through a close-ratio eight-speed automatic transmission. This is the first four-cylinder engine from BMW here in over a decade, and what an engine it is!

Making 241 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque from 1,250 to 4,800 rpm, this smooth 2.0-litre engine enables the 1,690-kilogram X1 xDrive to sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds. Fuel consumption is an equally impressive 10.2 L/100 km in the city and 6.5 L/100 km on the highway.

Standard equipment is generous, although one or two optional packages are needed to round out the amenities. The base vehicle includes the full range of electronic safety systems along with Hill Descent Control, run-flat tires on 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors and windshield washer jets, rain-sensing windshield wipers, roof rails, dynamic cruise control, multi-function leather sport steering wheel, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, heated front seats, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, eight-speaker audio with two subwoofers, and Bluetooth connectivity.

A popular option will be the $1,490 Premium Package, which adds heated steering wheel, aluminum roof rails, x-line exterior trim package, panorama sunroof and auto-dimming interior mirror, taking the MSRP to $39,990.

Other packages are available, including a $2,000 Navigation Package, a $1,500 Sport Package (18-inch wheels, shift paddles, sport seats), a $1,900 Convenience Package (alarm system, power seats, lumbar support, compass mirror, lights package) and Nevada Leather upholstery for $1,900.

Although externally smaller than the X3 and X5, the interior doesn’t feel cramped, at least not for occupants of the front seats. Head, shoulder and legroom are close to the X3 and X5, although rear legroom and cargo space behind the rear seat is understandably reduced in comparison to the larger vehicles. The Premium Package’s Panorama Sunroof contributes to the feeling of interior spaciousness, and the rear seats recline slightly to provide more comfort for passengers there.

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