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17 Dec 2022

What We Dislike
Despite being eligible for Cat A COE, it is still somewhat pricey at $241,888
The lack of performance in the upper rev range might dull the driving experience on longer road trips

Dressed in a striking shade of orange, the BMW X1 brings colour to the greyest of urban city streets with its distinctive design and easy-to-drive character.

While crossovers and SUVs are designed with plenty of off-road inspired features such as raised ground clearance and plastic-clad bodywork, most city-dwellers don't get one to go crawling through muddied paths.

Instead of exploring the wilderness, crossovers and SUVs in Singapore are destined to ply the roads in this urban jungle. Hence, the perfect SUV for Singaporeans isn't actually one that is able to scale mountains, but one that is easy and practical for daily drives on the city streets, and does so with plenty of style. Does the new BMW X1 fit the bill? Let's find out.

Break through boredom with a bold orange punch

Between its bright colour and its distinctive design, there's no way for the X1 to go unnoticed
Without the cover of darkness and the shining bright lights from the skyscrapers, the urbanised cityscape can be rather monotonous in the day.

Driving yet another run-of-the-mill sedan would relegate you to being just another 'Non-Playable Character' puttering down the street in a nondescript vehicle.

But with the X1, there's no chance of that happening. Despite being one of the smallest in BMW's X lineup, the new X1 is larger than ever and has the visual presence of a car that's easily one size larger than what you were expecting.

The angular lines throughout the body accentuates the X1's bold design
Up front, the X1 feature a pair of slim head lights along with the large kidney grille mounted on the upright front end.

These design elements work well with strong, angular lines that can be found all over the car, from the bonnet with its muscular bump to the squared-off wheel arches, which further accentuates the X1's bold character.

To complete the vivacious personality of this urban explorer, the X1 here is painted in Utah Orange Metallic, which I reckon is the colour to get if you aren't as boring as how the Central Business District looks like in the day.

No AWD, no massive engine, just all the things you actually need

Underneath that muscular bump on the bonnet is a rather puny engine
The X1 sDrive16i doesn't have all-wheel drive, nor does it have a huge, thundering engine that produces an earth-shattering amount of torque.

No, instead, when you pop open that stout-looking bonnet, what you'll find underneath is actually a rather puny 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine that sends a Cat A COE friendly 121bhp and 230Nm of torque to its two front wheels.

Despite the lacklustre horsepower figure, having a healthy amount of torque from as low as 1,500rpm means that getting off the line and up to speed is never strenuous.

With 230Nm of torque, this small engine produces a fair bit of low-end grunt
That said, if you were to mash the pedal to the metal, the lack of sheer horsepower becomes obvious as the engine runs out of puff in the higher rev range.

But, even with its shortcomings, this drivetrain is one that is aptly suited to the X1 as an upbeat city runabout.

There's enough low-end grunt to allow for easy driving, and yet it manages a respectable real-world fuel economy of almost 13km/L over a mix of city and expressway driving of just over 100km, despite its SUV body style.

An easy and fuss free driving experience

The high seating position gives the driver an excellent view of the road
Get behind the wheel of the X1 and you'll notice just how easy it is to drive. With a high seating position (even higher than its predecessor), you'll get to enjoy a clear view of the road.

And with it being a compact SUV, placing the car on the road is an easy and reassuring task.

Operating the car is fuss-free and seamless, there aren't even any paddle shifters to meddle with. You simply start the car and give the gear selector a nudge to 'D' and off you go.

Just nudge the gear selector towards 'D' and you'll be on your way
Coupled with a steering that feels light and precise, the X1 is a car that provides an effortless drive.

And despite being an SUV with a raised ride height, the X1 remains impressively planted and stable during turns, exhibiting a fair bit of roll stiffness.

There is however a slight downside to this - when driving over severely uneven road surfaces there is a noticeable amount of side-to-side motion.

That said, in general, the X1's ride is one that is well sorted and offers plenty of comfort in most occasions.

A well designed interior puts a smile on your face

The interior of the X1 is lifted straight out of the 2 Series Active Tourer, which really isn't a bad thing
If you have sat in the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, you will find the interior really familiar, and that's a huge plus point considering how well thought out it is.

Like the 2 Series Active Tourer, you'll find BMW's latest OS 8 that houses the 10.25-inch digital cluster and a 10.7-inch display on the same stylish pane that sits behind the steering wheel, reminiscent of the BMW iX.

The OS 8 system is a simplified and easy to use system with support for wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with plenty of customisation available for the instrument cluster.

The X1 is a cheerful compact SUV that is easy and enjoyable to drive
Sitting below the air-con vent in the middle of the dashboard is a smartphone holder with wireless charging function. As someone who's at times lazy to connect my phone to the car, I find such holders particularly handy as I can use my phone directly for navigation with it in clear view.

Yet another thoughtful design choice can be seen from the elevated seating position in the X1. By doing so, the X1 manages to provide an impressive amount of legroom for a car of its size, while still offering equally good headroom thanks to its tall roofline. And the roomy interior adds on to the X1's easy-to-drive characteristics, creating a car that is well suited to the typical city-dweller in Singapore.

Need to get to the office, fetch your family to the mall, or your fellow colleagues to lunch? With the X1 you can do it with ease, in comfort and stylishly. While it is unlikely to be a capable off-roader, the X1 is the perfect upbeat urban explorer to bring colour into your life amid the often boring and grey cityscape here.
Looking for an SUV? Here are some other choices that you can consider:
MG HS Exclusive: Still a steal

The Niro Hybrid is as refined as a hybrid can get

The Kia Sonet is a mighty spacious crossover

Catch more of the bight orange of this BMW X1 in our video review as well!

Also read our comparison article on:
Audi Q3 1.5 TFSI (A) vs BMW X1 sDrive16i M Sport (A)
Car Information
There's a promotion for BMW X1


: $254,888

Engine Type


3-cylinder in-line TwinPower Turbocharged

Engine Cap





90kW (121 bhp) / 6500 rpm



230 Nm



7-speed (A) Steptronic DCT

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption



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