FROM THE FLEET: 2012 BMW X1 xDrive28i
FROM THE FLEET are brief synopses of manufacturer-supplied rides that happen to end up in my laneway – JL
Bimmer fans close your eyes: Here’s yet another BMW that goes out of its way to NOT be a BMW. If you’re familair with the German automaker’s rigidly hierarchical naming system, you may reckon that the new X1 xDrive28i is a crossover smaller than the X3; b) sports traction at all four wheels; and c) offers a 2.8-litre sweet-revving straight-six.
On the first two accounts, you’d be correct. But despite its badging, the X1 is powered by a new 2.0-litre straight-FOUR that will end up replacing the existing 3.0-litre six in most BMW models. And, like most BMWs, it’s the X1’s engine that defines its character.
I first drove a European-market X1 almost two years ago, and was immediately impressed how much it drove like a 3 Series wagon, mainly, well, because the X1 is essentially a 3 Series wagon—but with a taller body. And after a week in a Canadian-market X1, I can honestly say our version doesn’t ride, steer or handle that differently than the Euro version (ie pretty nice).
Regrdless how it drives, the X1 will draw new-to-BMW buyers into showrooms mianly because of its relatively low sticker. Starting at $38,500 (mit AWD and eight-speed autobox), it’s priced well below the $41,900 (and also new this year) X3 xDrive28i (with the “old” 240 hp 3.0-litre six) and the now-loaded $48,500 3 Series Wagon 328i xDrive. But the savings over the now more upscale X3 are apparent by looking under the X1’s hood and by sitting inside its five-passenger interior.
While the X1’s blown four offers more power and oomph than the X3’s six (241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque vs. 240 and 221), the way it sounds and feels can’t match the legendary smoothness of the naturally X3's aspirated 3.0 mill. The four is nearly as smooth as the six. But it deosn't produce the lyrical hymns the six sings when at full song. And because it’s matched to an autobox with eight speeds, unless you really give it the boot to get the revs up and gears to drop, the turbo 2.0 sounds a bit like my six-year when she’s eaten too many Libby’s beans.
Plus, the new more expensive and roomier X3 is blessed with BMW’s higher-quality interior materials and design that started in the current 7 Series and is trickling down throughout the line. But the smaller X1’s insides are a mix of current-generation 1 and 3 Series—interiors that look crude compared to rivals Audi and Infiniti.
So with no rear-wheel-drive, stick, nor sweet-revving straight-six mill available, the X1 isn’t for the type of driver who would be willing to sell his/her soul for an M3 GTS.
Nope. I reckon the X1 is for a new type of BMW customer. One who would never consider (or now afford) a 3 Series wagon, but wants something a little more upscale than a Mitsubishi RVR or a Nissan Rogue. Probably female. Maybe a new mother who, for the first time, has to plop Junior in and out of a car seat, an ordeal made much easier in the X1 due to its tall rear door aperture.
Rear-wheel-drive? Heal-and-toe shifting? Sublime noises from the engine bay? Puh-shaw! Who needs that! For these less needy customers, BMW Canada won’t be able to import enough X1s. Trust me.