BMW X1 xDrive 28i

Can a crossover not be a compromise? Depending on the vehicle, either the passenger or the driver gives up something. Sometimes, it’s both. In the case of the new and magnificently compact 2012 BMW X1 xDrive 28i, it sure isn’t the driver.

Sporty handling – now that was fun!
The X1 28i loves hills and sharp turns. It’s small and well enough designed to handle and drive more like a performance sedan. You can drop the seat low for that close-to-the-ground rush.

The xDrive all-wheel drive system inspires confidence, even in snowy conditions. It does the thinking and you get the traction. It was good fun behind the wheel, even during an unexpected dump of sleet atop several centimeters of unplowed snow.

Despite the weight that an all-wheel drive system necessitates, the X1 28i accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in under 7 seconds. That stat came from BMW, but I don’t doubt its veracity, having experienced its jump-to-light-speed acceleration in thick traffic. But here’s what’s hard to believe…

Just 4 cylinders?
What may surprise and thrill you is the size and efficiency of the engine. The DOHC 1-4 16V TwinPower Turbo engine emits 241 hp @ 5,000 rpm and 258 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm of torque. That’s not a crossover compromise. It’s a coup!

It has an 8-speed automatic transmission with Steptronic shifting, great for launches at the green lights. The 8-speeds make for a smooth yet responsive ride.

Fuel consumption in the city comes in at 10.2 L/100km. Highway is 6.5. Which leads to an important point. You probably only want the BMW X1 xDrive 28i if you spend a good part of your life in the country. For instance, maybe you take your family and friends skiing.

Just how compact do you like it?
Europeans are comfortable in smaller spaces, partially because they design to waste no space. It’s all about efficiency. Minimalism is applied to maximize utility.

With a tight turning circle, the X1 fits neatly into any parking spot (see the dimensions below). There’s a roomy little cache beneath the dash for wallet, phone and sunglasses. Even the door handles are diminutive, shaped like and not much larger than nail files. If you’ve embraced this urban ethic of traveling light – quality over quantity – and you love to drive, this is for you.

But is a crossover a family decision? North Americans still like their space. Indeed, the X1 is not even for sale in the USA, yet BMW has made a bold choice to be the smallest compact luxury crossover in Canada. Consider the sizes below. Its dimensions are smaller than all of them.

Crossover BMW X1
xDrive 28i
RX 350
Length 4454 mm 4770 mm 4631 mm 4665 mm 4427 mm
Width 1798 mm 1885 mm 1803 mm 1835 mm 1809 mm
Height 1545 mm 1695 mm 1589 mm 1635 mm 1683 m

The point? Space is part of why we choose a crossover. Take your passengers for the test drive because you, the driver, will be enthralled.

Interestingly, the BMW X1 28i is the exact width of its corporate sister and country alternative, the appropriately named Mini Countryman, yet it’s over 300 mm longer. Clearly this crossover is finding its own space. Canadians who like the experience of efficient driving will find it with them.

2012 BMW X1 xDrive 28i 
MSRP: $38,500
As Driven: $40,940

Image courtesy of Steven Bochenek.


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