Home / Home / BMW X1 sDrive20d First Drive Review – Step Up


The new BMW X1 sDrive20d steps up its game with a BS VI-compliant turbo-diesel engine and the necessary emission clean-up equipment in place. How did it perform? Here’s what you need to know.

BMW X1 sDrive20d Road Test Review

Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Saurabh Botre


Aspiration is a wonderful thing. It can drive one to greater things and have them step up to greener pastures, so to speak. The thing is, it never stops. However, the first step is the most important one. A premium car is still something of great aspirational value but, over the decades, the shape and even the essence of desires have changed. People have gone from aspiring to own a particular car to wanting to own a certain brand. And, to cater to such people, there are a slew of choices on a lateral axis. However, where the axis of these models may be lateral, not all parts of where they will roam will be so too, and that’s where the SUV body-style comes in.

Desirable cars have gone from sporty coupés with big engines to bulky SUVs with downsized engines that aren’t naturally aspirated either. The first blow came from efficiency. Now, the blower has spread far and wide and exhaust-gas-driven turbochargers are a mainstay, even in many compact family cars. The new BMW X1 is one of these popular new cars and now there’s a refreshed model that takes forward the lineage with an even more efficient emission control system; needed for new emission regulations. The widespread use of combustion engines necessitates this. But has there been some sort of further optimization done? It’s BMW, surely there must be.

The last time I was behind the wheel of a BMW X1 it was the middle of 2016 and that was the X1 xDrive 20d. While that was also based on BMW’s then brand-new UKL modular front-drive architecture, this one is the first sDrive, or two-wheel-drive version, I’ve been behind the wheel of. And, like their new international compact-car range, the drive goes to the front wheels only. But, from where I’m sitting, no one really cares!

The new BMW X1 sDrive20d looks even more muscular and aggressive. The xLine trim brings this exclusive shade of grey, called Storm Bay, which really stood out under the clouds for whatever reason. The matte-aluminium kidney-grille looks sharp with its glaring nostrils. On either side are the BMW LED headlamps; automatically activated and self-levelling, too. The X1 has grown slightly to 4,447 millimetres long, but runs the same wheelbase. That said, the ground clearance has dropped ever so slightly to 179 mm — still enough for all road conditions and ungainly speed-humps.

BMW X1 sDrive20d Road Test Review

Getting in needs the key, although ignition is keyless with the start/stop button. The cabin is well laid-out and looks properly premium, with its light beige leather, wood inlays, and aluminium trim accents. That aluminium trim can turn into a beacon when the sun’s out, though, as it has quite a shine. The cabin also has ambient lighting with selectable colours and is visible as it gets dark. We had no such luck, though. The seats are power adjustable and there is enough room front and rear. There are updates in the form of new displays, thoughtful storage areas in the centre as well as deep door-pockets, and the addition of USB-C ports in the rear-facing end of the centre console. A massive glass roof with a sliding section adds to the airy and open feel.

BMW X1 sDrive20d Road Test Review

More on page 2 >


About the author: Jim Gorde


Deputy Editor at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops, and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible immediate future until hydrogen FCEVs take over.

t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia/@jimbosez


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