When it comes to subcompact luxury crossovers, BMW has been a top contender in the segment for a long time with its X1.
Firstly introduced in 2009 for the European market and hitting the US shores by 2012, the E84 was the first generation of BMW X1. The new small luxury SUV immediately gained a lot of press attention and received many awards from auto magazines such as Auto Zitug, Auto Bild, and Red Dot for its somewhat revolutionary design. BMW even managed to sell almost three-quarters of a million E84 X1s all over the world.
During the E84 sales period in 2015, BMW unveiled the second-generation X1, called the F48. It was a massive change, now sitting on top of a new platform. However, the change was a successful one, despite the boos and woos from some enthusiasts who disagreed with BMW’s decision to make the X1 FWD for the first time, instead of maintaining the RWD tradition. But overall, BMW managed to create a worthy successor of the E84 X1 with the F48, giving it a more modern design and improving performance, economy, and interior practicality.
The F48 X1 has been through many refreshment phases. However, this year, there were no design changes compared to last year’s facelifted model. This year’s changes lie only on the addition of SiriusXM satellite radio that is now standard across all trims and the removal of fog lamps from the optional Convenience and Premium Packages. Oh, and sport seats are now only available in the optional M Sport Package.
The American market is not missing out on the party here. Although only one engine is available in the United States, it is the most powerful petrol engine offered in any F48 X1. Specifically, it’s a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit fitted with two turbos, producing 228 hp at 5000-6000 rpm, and 258 lb-ft of torque at 1450-4500 rpm. As a result, the subcompact crossover now takes 6.3 seconds to hit 60mph from a standstill, while the top speed is electronically limited at 129 mph. No need to mention that it’s still tremendously quick for a small SUV.
Paired to this engine is an 8-speed STEPTRONIC Automatic transmission with Sport and Manual shift modes, in either FWD or AWD.
The small-sized engine is also very economical. You can expect it to achieve 24 MPG/city and 33 MPG/highway. Hence, with its 16.1-gallon fuel capacity, you can easily cover a distance of 434 miles without filling up.
Outside the U.S., BMW offers a smaller 1.5-liter 3-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 141 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque for the non-hybrid version and 225 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque for the hybrid version. There’s also a detuned version of the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo that generates 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque in other markets.
Unlike several European manufacturers, BMW deserves big props for providing the most powerful engine for the U.S. market. We won’t miss the lower-powered ones, obviously.
Although there are no exterior changes on this year’s model, the design is still worthy of discussing and comparing against its already refreshed rivals.
Sure, the X1’s design is already 6-years old design. Nonetheless, the premium and elegant feel remain from last year’s facelifted model. With the bigger signature kidney grille dominating the front fascia and the redesigned front headlamps, the X1 looks up-to-date with the rest of the new BMW X-series.
The side profile looks like a properly down-sized SUV with a firm and straight roofline going from the A-pillar to the back, maintaining its height, so it does not sacrifice any headroom inside the cabin. Plus, it gets new assorted rims in various sizes and colors as a nice update. Meanwhile, the back-end gets redesigned LED taillamps as well, and the visible dual exhaust is a nice touch.
However, when it comes to styling, it might feel a bit outdated compared to the newly refreshed and more futuristic-looking Mercedes-Benz GLA Class or Volvo XC40. However, its design still represents the true essence of a luxury crossover, even in 2021.
Interior Space and Dimension
At 175.5″ long, 71.7″ wide, and 62.9″ high, the BMW X1 has a fairly similar size to its rivals. It is very generous on the inside, though, with a passenger volume at 101.2 cubic feet. But, despite having generous legroom and five seats, three adults in the back may feel a little bit cramped due to its tight width. Nevertheless, there is more than enough room for 4 adults to comfortably travel inside the X1.
Moreover, the cargo space is one of the largest in its class, at 27.1 cubic feet with all the seats upright. And if you need even more space, you can always fold down the rear seats to unlock the maximum cargo volume of 58.7 cubic feet.
Interestingly, underneath the X1’s old design secretly lies a playful chassis. Sitting on the UKL2 platform, the 2021 BMW X1 shares the same platform with the current Mini Clubman and Mini Countryman. That’s not bad news—Mini cars have a reputation for providing superior handling. Besides, the platform provides a nearly balanced 58/42 percent front/rear weight distribution, a recipe for great handling and outstanding maneuverability.
In many ways, despite being somewhat heavy X1 (at 3,567 lbs) and medium-high riding (at 7.2 inches), the X1 behaves and performs like a nimble hatchback that can chew some light off-roading activities as well. Combining this great small chassis with adequate ground clearance and the top-of-the-range engine and gearbox, BMW built a compact jack-of-all-trades out of the X1. It certainly serves as one of the best small luxury SUVs in terms of ride quality and handling.
The U.S. market only gets the 2021 BMW X1 in two trim options: sDrive28i and xDrive28i. The sDrive28i represents the FWD variant, and the xDrive28i represents the AWD variant. However, both are very similar in terms of perks and features.
2021 BMW X1 sDrive28i
Starting price: $35,400
The standard exterior equipment in the 2021 X1 is common for a premium luxury SUV. The xLine package comes as standard, featuring 18-inch two-tone wheels, roof rails, and Matte Chrome exterior trim. Also standard are a power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, and rear windows privacy glass.
More luxurious features are found on the inside. As standard, owners get simulated leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, power-adjustable front seats, and automatic climate control for a comfortable and ergonomic driving experience.
The X1 is also equipped with a 7-speaker sound system and an 8.8-inch iDrive infotainment display, complete with Apple CarPlay smartphone integration as standard. It is a shame, though, that BMW has not included Android Auto connectivity for its Android user customers until now. At least USB audio connection and hands-free Bluetooth® Audio Streaming are available as standard as well.
Safety and Driver Assistant
BMW is famous for not compromising safety, reflecting on the standard safety features that this entry-level X-series comes with. Notably, the safety system comes with 8 airbags as standard, and an impact sensor that disengages the fuel pump, automatically unlocks doors and turns on hazard and interior lights in the event of a crash. Moreover, BMW Assist eCall™ is also a standard feature that calls emergency services instantly.
Active Driving Assistant comes as standard, featuring Frontal Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Speed Limit Info. Furthermore, cruise control, tire pressure monitoring system, programmable LED Daytime Running lights, and adjustable halogen beam headlights are also part of the standard equipment. Also, a rearview camera, park distance control, and an anti-theft alarm system are safety features included in the base model.
2021 BMW X1 xDrive28i
Starting price: $37,400
Despite having an AWD configuration, every bit of the exterior, interior, and safety features are the same as the sDrive28i trim. However, Hill Descent Control is included as an extra driving assistant feature.
If you feel like the regular xLine package is still not enough, there are extra packages that you can always include on top of your purchase to add more luxurious, sporty, and high-tech vibes to your 2021 BMW X1.
Starting price: $2,250
Just like the name suggests, the Convenience Package comes with several convenience enhancement features such as a hands-free liftgate, panoramic sunroof, and power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors. Moreover, inside you will get adjustable lumbar support for the front seats, ambient lighting, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a universal garage-door opener.
M Sport Package
Starting price: $4,350
The M Sport Package adds a dash of sportiness to your 2021 X1. It features everything from the Convenience Package with additional M trim bits and pieces, such as a sportier Shadowline exterior trim, 18-inch M wheels, M steering wheel, M sport front seats, and unique interior trim.
Aside from cosmetic upgrades, the M Sport package also brings a sport-tuned suspension and the ability to opt-in for an M sport suspension for $400 more.
Starting price: $4,250
The Premium Package includes all features from the Convenience Package with the addition of an improved LED headlights with cornering lights. Furthermore, you get heated front seats and steering wheel, a heads-up display, and navigational aids.
Starting price: $1,550
The Luxury Package, as the name implies, adds a touch of luxury to the 2021 X1 with authentic leather upholstery from Soft Dakota leather selections and Finewood or Brushed Aluminum trims with Pearl Chrome design interior accents.
Single Optional Extras
|LED headlights w/ cornering lights||$950|
|Adaptive Cruise Control||$1,000|
|Heated front seats and steering wheel||$550|
|12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system||$875|
|Wireless charging pad||$500|
|Sliding and reclining rear seat adjustment||$300|
|Space-saver spare wheels||$150|
Thanks to its powerful engine, this small luxury SUV can tow up to a whopping 3,700 lbs. Such a figure is quite impressive, especially considering its rival’s bigger brother, the Mercedes GLC 300 4MATIC, can only tow up to 3,500 lbs.
The warranty that BMW will include on top of your 2021 X1 purchase includes:
• Limited warranty of up to 4 years/50,000 miles
• Roadside Assistance Program of up to 4 years with unlimited mileage
• Rust perforation limited warranty of up to 12 years with unlimited mileage
• Complimentary scheduled maintenance of up to 3 years/36,000 miles
Despite the somewhat outdated design, the 2021 BMW X1 is still one of the best options for those in the market for a small luxury SUV. Small families will find it easy and practical for a daily commute, and young business executives won’t feel ashamed driving one either.
The FWD sDrive28i trim is probably enough for most people since the ride height is too low to consider any extreme off-roading anyway.
For those who found the X1 a little bit dull, you can always check out its younger and curvier sibling, the BMW X2, as it offers pretty much the same utility as the X1 but in a much fresher and sportier packaging.
|Body Style(s)||Sport Utility Vehicle|
|Engine(s)||2.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder|
|Horsepower @ RPM||228 @ 5000-6000|
|Torque @ RPM||258 @ 1450-4500|
|Transmission(s)||8-speed STEPTRONIC Automatic transmission with Sport and Manual shift modes|
|Fuel Economy – City||24 MPG||23 MPG|
|Fuel Economy – Hwy||33 MPG||31 MPG|
|Fuel Economy – Combined||27 MPG||26 MPG|
|Legroom FR/RR (in.)||40.4 / 37.0|
|Cargo volume (cu.ft.)||27.1|
|Curb weight (lbs)||3567||3726|
Wheels & Tires
|Wheel size||18 x 7.5|