BMW X1 is one of the greatest success stories to emerge out of Munich. Now in its third generation, the compact and entry-level SUV can proudly state that it found 2.7 million homes since its inception in 2009. The X1 might not have the allure of the X3 or X5 in many markets, but it has always been a reliable workhorse for the Bavarians. And as with every new generation, this one is likely to top its predecessor.
Front-Wheel Drive Flexible Architecture
Still built on the FAAR platform – short for front-wheel drive architecture – the BMW X1 U11 is more complex and tech advanced than ever before. It has one of the largest powertrain offerings in the BMW lineup, with a combination of petrol and diesel-powered engines, alongside a series of plug-in hybrids, and for now, one fully electric model. We’ve already shared our impressions on the BMW iX1 xDrive30, but it is now time to review the 2023 BMW X1 xDrive23i.
Four-Cylinder, 218 HP
This particular model is sold in Europe, but the U.S. equivalent would be the X1 xDrive28i with more power from the very same B48 2.0 liter four cylinder engine. In xDrive23i-spec, it makes 218 horsepower and 360 Nm of torque, and is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard but this model is obviously equipped with xDrive all-wheel drive. It’s actually the same powertrain used in the U.S.-spec X1 xDrive28i, except the U.S. car gets 228 horsepower. BMW touts that 90 percent of the parts in this B48 unit are new or improved.
The engine is supported by the second generation 48 volt mild-hybrid electrical system. The new unit is integrated into the housing of the 7-speed DCT generating an additional 14 kW or 19 horsepower. Other benefits of the 48V includes better recuperation of energy, higher fuel efficiency and a smoother operation of the engine’s on-off function. The acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) is said to be 7.1 seconds.
I’ve already shared my thoughts here on the exterior and interior design of the new BMW X1 family. But here is a short recap. The new BMW X1 U11 is larger than its predecessor in all respects – length, width and height. It also brings forward a stunning exterior design, with sharp creases and an aggressive M Sport Package. There is even a cool aero blood (aka roof spoiler) which is one of the best in the business. Kidney are normal, and we’re thankful for that.
Finally a Premium Cabin
Inside, this new 2023 BMW X1 is exactly what all the previous models should have been: high tech and premium. You’re getting the latest and greatest infotainment system from BMW, along with high quality leathers and trims, and a plethora of driver assistant features. There is even a great implementation of the wireless charging tray which sits in the only position that makes sense inside a car: vertically.
Speaking of the advanced driver assistance systems on the BMW X1 U11. Standard safety equipment includes Front Collision Warning with brake intervention, Cruise Control with brake function, Speed limit info with no-overtaking indicator, Speed Limit Assist and Evasion Assist, among other features. Lane Departure Warning with Lane Return is also standard. Active Park Distance Control with Reversing Camera and Assistant is also a standard fitment.
If you pay extra, you can get the Driving Assistant Plus safety package. The system uses cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors to deliver Level 2 driving assistance features. Customers now get radar-based Steering and Lane Control Assistant, Active Cruise Control with stop/go at up to speeds of 112 mph, and Automatic Speed Limit Assist, Route and Junction Assistant, and more. There is even a Trailer Assist package, similar to what we sampled in the new BMW X7 Facelift.
iDrive 8 and Curved Display
Of course, there are some cons to the interior as well. Firstly, the lack of physical buttons to control the AC system. Just like other new BMWs with iDrive 8, the functions are now digitally integrated into the large curved display. Not ideal, but that seems to be the direction BMW is heading towards. Secondly, BMW decided to drop the iDrive knob. Again, this is a questionable decision from a user experience stand point, especially since I often found myself reaching for that controller.
Cargo and interior space is great though. I’m on the tall side – 6″2 aka 1.89m – but I found the driving position to be roomy. Even with the driver seat adjusted for my height, there was still decent legroom in the back. Shoulder room is also improved compared to the outgoing model, same as the headroom. To achieve that, BMW designed the rear bench at an angle, while sculpting the ceiling above you outwards. High praises for that.
The size growth is also reflected in the trunk volume, which has grown by 50 liters to 540. Of course, the luggage compartment can be extended to 1600 liters, thanks to the 40:20:40 rear seat configuration. Smartly, BMW also implemented a rear seat that can be individually moved forward by 13 centimeters.
The Driving Experience
With specs and features out of the way, let me tell you about the driving experience. This particular 2023 BMW X1 xDrive23i was fitted with the Adaptive M Sport suspension which compared to the one in the BMW iX1, it lowers the car by 15 mm. Just like all the BMW adaptive setups, this allows you to alter the ride comfort, thanks to the adjustable frequency selective dampers. Of course, you’ll also get a sharper steering with a more direct rack ratio for precise steering. So no surprises here, nor in the different driving modes available.
Usually, I like to review my BMWs in Sport or Sport+, but this time around, I put myself in the shoes of a normal customer. Something I still try to do in every one of my reviews, but now more than ever. Why you might ask? Because the new BMW X1 is not aiming to be a road warrior. This is a practical crossover, more than ever before, which wants to focus on passengers’ comfort, space and interior amenities.
So this is why I rode mostly in COMFORT, sampling the different driver assistant features and normal city driving. Of course, I did push the car on the Autobahn a bit because…American. Do you recall when I said that this X1 is really more like a smaller X3? That translates into the driving experience as well. The car rides higher than the outgoing X1 model, giving the driver a good view of the road and feeling in control of its driving behavior.
The engine is potent enough for a car of this size, but of course, I am excited to see what the future BMW X1 M35i can deliver. The 7-speed DCT is extremely smooth and precise, and its shifts are nearly undetectable. Cabin noise is great as well, so I can tell that BMW spent quite some time on isolating the driver and passengers from the outside world. The M Sport seats are superb, same as the beefy steering wheel.
Cornering is what you’d expect from a 2.0 liter 218 horsepower engine – a bit sluggish before it gets going, but enough fun for most people. Body roll is decent, but I honestly don’t think anyone cares about that in the X1.
BMW also wants you to know that there are plenty of accessories for the new X1. So on display they had a model decked out with a roof box, a nifty organizer with velcros in the trunk, a smartphone holder, a folding table with an integrated cup holder, and much more. Oh, let me not forget about an optional 21 inch wheel which looks massive on the X1.
Should I Buy One?
In conclusion, this new 2023 BMW X1 (U11) is a very compelling product which will give its competitors a run for the money (Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA). The only question you have to ask yourself is which engine to pick. Regardless of that choice, you can’t go wrong with this new crossover. It ticks all the checkboxes.
- Stylish design
- Premium interior
- Driver assistant features
- No physical AC buttons
- No iDrive knob