Auto Review: 2020 BMW X1 sDrive18d

ECCENTRIC yet useful. Robust but still classy. BMW’s new 2020 X1 sDrive18d has taken a slight step away from the ‘techy-tech’ of its past and towards the world of user-friendly. But don’t be fooled. As we found out, its 2.0-litre engine still delivers plenty of action.

Before becoming the temporary proud owner of BMW’s newest prodigy, admittedly, nerves were high. Committing to a car; it’s serious stuff. It’s like committing to a relationship.

You and that person have to have a connection and need to know you can rely on each other. Everything from protecting you and your belongings, guiding you along the right path in life, even making sure they handle you with care and softness (but not too soft).

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So, as you do with every new partner, the best thing to do is put them to the test.

We matched the X1’s leather interior and handling skills up against one of the messiest eaters in history, tested it against the aussie heat and observed its performance whilst carrying three suitcases, two people, a surfboard and speaker system.

Approaching the shiny, full-bodied machine for the first time, a few differences are immediately noticeable. BMW have revamped their signature kidney grille, making it all one piece and finishing it with a high gloss chrome, exuding more of a softer appearance.

The 90mm exhaust pipes and 18-inch light-alloy wheels give a masculine yet athletic impression. The big sunroof is perfect for those long drives beside the beach, and the adaptive LED head lights not only look cool but make you more comfortable in the dark.

Inside, the SUV has certainly kept up appearances, and with its flashy interior and sleek look, you can’t help but feel special.

With a new infotainment display, safety systems matched with sporty fun, and unpretentious performance, you have to marvel at its elegant practicality.

Now we all know that relationships are all lovely and nice when sitting on a tropical island sipping margaritas. But how is the chemistry in the ‘real world’. Time to take this baby into the hustle and bustle of the city.

Taking off into a crammed, two lane, suburban street, the 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine gives a welcomed ‘oomph.’ Along the road and around corners, the X1 sDrive18d drives smoothly and handles well.

Features that really got us excited included the additional M Sport functions, such as the Servotronic agile steering and multi-piston sport brakes, which offers impressive agility and control in any type of situation.

At the traffic lights, we take a bit more of a look around the inside to test out physical compatibility. The leather seating and pearl chrome trim gives off a luxurious vibe and the spacious driver’s seat feels like you are sitting in a space capsule.

The lack of lumber support and electric seat adjustment is bit of a disappointment but small things such as 60:40 splitting rear seat, sizable boot and great air-conditioning unit make up for it.

The elaborate array of buttons on the steering wheel, centre console and display screen seem intimidating at first, but are surprisingly simple to use. The handy iDrive controller makes moving around the 10.25-inch display screen easy as well.

You have all you need on board for a comfortable safe drive, with everything from maps and navigation to the intelligent safety settings at hand, including lane departure warning, parking assist and a rear camera.

Communication is key in every relationship and we are pleasantly surprised when a text message pops up on the screen. This is all done through Apple CarPlay, which provides remote access to apps such as iMessage, Spotify and Apple Music.

A handy voice activation button on the steering wheel allows us to change the song and speak texts, all while keeping our eyes on the road.

As traffic approaches, we feel the car becoming protective. Things such as the dynamic stability control, ABS, braking assistant, cornering brake control and dynamic traction control all work in the background making sure you arrive at your destination safely.

You get the feeling that even though you do not exactly see the car monitoring your every move, you know it has got your back. Now, despite its modest and practical approach, everybody likes a little spice.

We decide to step it up to test number two; the freeway. We switch the 8-speed Steptronic sport transmission into sport mode and using 110kW of power and 330Nm of torque, it reaches 100km/h in a respectable 9.2 seconds.

The details on the head-up display shows the current speed and speed limit, which is constantly adapting to its surroundings. The X1 also features speed limit assist, which provides a warning when your desired maximum speed has been met.

You can also get navigation, fuel efficiency, date and time among other things on the HUD. All these features are controlled by a convenient button on the left steering wheel stick. Cruise control is not hard to use either, but the system is nothing special.

The car’s only downfall on the highway is the amount of road noise heard in the rear seats making conversation hard. Not wanting to leave any opportunity uncovered, we take the car a little off-road.

Switching into comfort mode, the adaptive suspension kicks in and the single-joint front axle and multi-arm rear axle all assist in offering a pleasant, comfortable ride. Even though the sDrive18d won’t blow other competitors out of the park, it still performs well.

Feeling like we have asked all we can of the X1 sDrive18d, one more thing needed to be checked. Despite all these good traits, you can’t have your supposed ‘partner for life’ sucking your bank account dry.

The car uses 5.3-litres/100km of fuel, which in real terms means we were able to drive from Sydney to the Central Coast twice, and up north to Forster (around 693km), and still have leftover diesel.

Flicking the engine into Eco Pro mode, the gears change at lower revs and the car regains battery power when braking, lowering emissions and saving fuel. The auto start/stop function, which can be turned on and off, also helps save on fuel and power.

Not only does this BMW deliver physically, it is also very financially conscious. Even the price for the 2020 BMW X1 sDrive18d is a respectable $48,899 drive away. After everything, we’ve decided this is a relationship we would take further.

The performance of the BMW X1 sDrive18d was smart, classy and fun. Sure, it has its faults, but who doesn’t right. It’s modest approach to the road is what appeals to us the most. It may not be the podium winner, but it is certainly up there.

Every car can be flashy, but not all cars can be flashy and also get the job done. That’s what makes the X1 special. Our test vehicle was fitted with the M Sport package and shrouded in Mineral Grey.

There’s plenty of colour choice though, including Alpine white, Glacier Silver, and Black Sapphire, as well as some bolder options, including Sunset Orange and Misano Blue Metallic.

Our test vehicle was supplied by BMW Australia. To find out more about the 2020 BMW X1 sDrive18d, contact your local BMW dealer.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness
Value for money


Pros - luxurious interior; head-up display; safety features; fuel efficiency.
Cons - seat comfort; road noise; exterior style.
Jacinta Counihan
Jacinta Counihan
Jacinta Counihan is an up and coming journo who has grown up surrounded by cars and loud machines. As a little girl, all she wanted was a red Mini Cooper S. Now she's older and has broadened her horizons. Next on the list is a red Ferrari (when she can afford it).



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<strong>Pros -</strong> luxurious interior; head-up display; safety features; fuel efficiency.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> seat comfort; road noise; exterior style.Auto Review: 2020 BMW X1 sDrive18d