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The 1.5-litre BMW X1 that you see here may be $19,000 cheaper than its 2.0-litre sibling, but it is every bit as comfortable and capable on the road.

25 Nov 2016

Wouldn't it be nice if our economy was as burgeoning as the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) segment? Maybe then we'd have a shot at owning one of our favourites - a maniacal, 575bhp BMW M Series X6 M. Unfortunately, judging from the financial situation around us, we'd be lucky if the economy didn't take another dip.

As such, we should practice frugality. If you don't have a large family, you won't have to get a huge seven-seater. In fact, something down the price and size spectrum, but just as stylish, comfortable and capable may actually be more suitable for you.

How about the BMW's latest X1 variant, the sDrive18i X Line?

The BMW X1 is a great car for young families who want to make the jump from a Japanese to European SUV

Wait, haven't I read about this car last year?

Sort of. We drove the new X1 a year ago but that's the sDrive20i variant. This one's the sDrive18i, which means it's powered by a turbocharged 1.5-litre, tri-cylinder engine similar to the 3 Series Sedan 318i and the 2 Series Active Tourer 218i - not a 1.8-litre as its badge might confuse.

The sDrive20i runs a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-pot paired to an eight-cog Aisin Steptronic. In contrast, the sDrive18i employs a conventional six-cog auto.

134bhp may sound underwhelming for a car that weighs 1,505kg but in reality, it is enough for city driving

The sDrive18i also has a tinier power output, 56 horses and 60 torques fewer compared to the sDrive20i's 189bhp and 280Nm. Because of this, the sDrive18i completes the century sprint in 9.7 seconds - two seconds slower than its stronger brethren.

But that doesn't mean the sDrive18i is a slouch. On regular roads, because power is available from just 1,250rpm, the baby X gets around quite eagerly.

On paper, the sDrive18i is the more fuel economical car, promising 17.9km/L, while the sDrive20i declares 16.4km/L.

Perhaps the lack in power is only truly palpable when you crack an overtaking manoeuvre on a busy highway.

I can live with that. What other disparities should I be aware of?

Apart from powertrain performance, the sDrive18i's seats are finished in Sensatec vinyl while the sDrive20i's wear a higher grade Dakota leather. But until this was revealed to us, we didn't even notice.

The sDrive18i also doesn't have a cruise control function but that's really a small quibble to complain about.

Okay, but the greater, more important bits remain, right?

Absolutely. The sDrive18i wears a similarly handsome face, has great cabin design and finish, and a similarly generous volume of trunk (505 litres) and second row space.

The comfortable and spacious sDrive18i isn't finished in Dakota leather but its Sensatec vinyl is no cause for complaints

And of course, it's every bit as fun around twisty roads and in every way as comfortable to ride in as the sDrive20i.

But won't people make fun of me for having the cheapest X?

Who cares? Considering where our economy is heading, driving slower, resting our bums on Sensatec trims and not having cruise control isn't miserly - it's making a much sounder financial decision.

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Car Information



: -

Engine Type


3-cylinder in-line 12-valve

Engine Cap





100kW (134 bhp) / 4400 rpm



220 Nm / 1250 rpm



6-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption


17.9 km/L

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