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BMW X1 Singapore Review - sDrive16i xLine (A)

The latest BMW X1 brings continuity to BMW's already very successful line of premium small SUVs that go up against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLA. SUV buyers in Singapore will be pleased to know that the new BMW X1 sits within the Category A COE bracket, and boasts some key improvements to its predecessor such as ride quality, rear seat space, upgraded OS8 infotainment system, and better low end performance.

For anybody who has ever considered buying a BMW X1 - you're not alone. Around the country, the car has proven to be one of the most successful premium compact SUVs in its segment, attracting buyers from various walks of life, no doubt a result of the car providing a very compelling blend of luxury, practicality, and value for money. It's a very good thing then, that BMW hasn't mucked about with the winning formula too much, and has instead stuck to the X1's strengths, and built a worthy successor that has the necessary upgrades to take the car into the next phase.

For starters, everything seems to be bigger and more luxurious these days, and the X1 is no exception. From afar, it's easy to mistake the X1 for an older X3 - giving the car an edge over its more visually petite segment mates. The overall redesign seems to have made the car more angular, with boxier lines, and thus makes the car look more imposing than its predecessor which boasts rounder features. The redesigned kidney grille,. front fascia, and rear fascia also tie in very well with the whole car. Visually, the new X1 is a clear step up from the old car, and looks more modern and more premium without loosing its playful and youthful edge.

Inside, the theme continues, and there is quite an obvious elevation in cabin finish and styling, especially with BMW's new floating console design and the integrated curved display that houses the latest OS8 infotainment system. It's no secret that I prefer the aesthetics of OS7, but it is also easy to understand how the futuristic presentation of OS8 will feel more in line with future developments from BMW. Overall, the BMW X1 isn't the most stylish or beautifully crafted cabin in its segment, but If you are currently driving the old BMW X1, there is no debate that the new car is a clear upgrade on the old car and is adequately fitting of a premium continental SUV - even if it is the entry level SUV from BMW.

Another area where the X1 has clearly grown is in its size, and it is longer, wider, taller, and has a longer wheelbase than its predecessor. Overall, this contributes to a more comfortable cabin with better legroom for rear passengers and more shoulder room for everyone. While this increase in space won't necessarily allow you to fit extra people in it, it does make raising a family easier in this car - where an extra few centimetres can make a lot of difference when trying to fit a rearward facing child seat with a floor standing ISOFIX base. Similarly, a few centimetres of shoulder room could also decide whether or not your helper is able to sit between two child seats in the 2nd row - a seemingly small bit rather significant detail.

Personally, the bit about the new X1 that I like over its predecessor is the way it handles torque at lower speeds around town. Though power is drawn from the same 1.5L turbocharged 3 cylinder engine from the old car, as well as the same 7 Speed Dual Clutch gearbox from the old car - there is quite a noticeable difference in the car's performance. Although the new car has been tuned to fit within CAT A COE requirements and should technically be less powerful, I was surprised to find that power and acceleration off the line was spritely, responsive, and accompanied by a very pleasant engine note. The new X1 also feels less "stabby" on power, which helps the car feel more refined that its predecessor. Of course, being a 3 cylinder, power and torque does begin to taper off past 100km/h, which might bother those who do frequent trips up north - the car is wonderful to drive around town, is more comfortable than before, and handles confidently.

Overall, the new BMW X1 is an extremely worthy successor to the previous car, and elevates the entire ownership experience through its well styled cabin, updated infotainment system, and improved driving dynamics. The fact that the car qualifies for CAT A COE is a real bonus, and also a real shocker, if you consider how well the car performs in its lower gears and how good the engine sounds under heavy acceleration. For anyone shopping around for a premium compact SUV, there really aren't many better options than the BMW X1 at this current juncture and should definitely be on your shortlist. We're also extremely excited to see how the electric iX1 will turn out when it eventually reaches our shores in the future.


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