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2024 BMW X1 M35i Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, BMW, SUV, Test Drives

When it comes to the small crossover segment, there’s a lot of competition to consider, even in the scope of compact luxury crossovers. BMW has been successful with such a segment for many years, and the newest BMW X1 homed in on giving the class a sportier edge with a new X1 M35i trim that touts added power and better driving dynamics for those who want something a bit more sporty.

The BMW X1 was redesigned for the 2023 model year, and now we have the X1 M35i trim to join the xDrive28i trim, which I reviewed last year, walking away pleased with how well connected to the road the small crossover feels. After spending several days with the new BMW X1 M35i xDrive, much of that same feeling returns but is amplified a bit thanks to its added power and M-inspired dynamics. The only downside remains to be the quirky infotainment system that proves to be frustrating in getting over a rather long learning curve.

Performance and Driving Character

The new BMW X1 M35i gets a more powerful version of the base xDrive28i’s engine. In the X1 M35i, you get 313 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4-cylinder, which gets paired with the same 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission sending power to an all-wheel-drive xDrive system. Being a front-wheel-drive-biased vehicle shows through the dynamics in that the X1 M35i often breaks the front wheels loose before traction or stability control takes over. The X1 M35i is quite an eager vehicle that usually feels light on its feet, mostly due to its smallish size, which is just over 3,700 pounds.

In all, the X1 M35i has among the best driving dynamics I’ve experienced in a small crossover, proving to be sure-footed and somewhat rewarding in how it behaves in the Sport drive modes. The adaptive M suspension setup keeps things in check for its handling abilities and exudes somewhat of a firm ride but is still comfy enough for most. Where I would like to see things polished is how the drive modes are configured, which is only a small frustrating part of the mixed bag that the infotainment system is in the new X1, where things depart far from traditional modes, leaving you with a multilayered Sport mode that doesn’t bode well with street driving. The full-on Sport modes set in the system put the transmission in too much of an aggressive position where it hangs onto gears way too long, which feels more suited for a track hot lap – but who’s driving a new BMW X1 on a track?

The powerful turbocharged engine and connected feeling that you get from the drivetrain is where the X1 M35i shines its brightest, only hampered somewhat by the initial engagement of the transmission gearing upon acceleration. Using the launch control livens things up, as does the engagement of a momentary 10-second Boost mode by pulling on the downshift steering wheel shift paddle, putting the vehicle into its sportiest modes. Unfortunately, the temporary Boost doesn’t add any extra power, just changes the settings for those 10 seconds. Making a dash to 60 mph takes just 5.2 seconds using the launch control, which barked the front 20-inch Pirelli P Zero tires that wrap stylish wheels and the upgraded M sport brakes with red-painted 4-piston brake calipers up front.

Fuel Economy

The new BMW X1 was already decent for its fuel consumption getting 34 mpg on the highway in the X1 xDrive28i. In my BMW X1 M35i with its added power only departs from that figure by 3 MPG to get 31 mpg on the highway, 23 mpg city, and 26 mpg combined. Those figures match my real-world results but find that around town I bested the EPA 23 mpg figure to get around 24.5 mpg overall pushing the little X1 rather hard in moderate traffic.

Interior and Technology

The cabin of the BMW X1 is surprisingly accommodating for such a small crossover. There’s wise use of the limited space that it has offering the driver and front passenger a lot of adjustability in the power heated leather sport bucket seats with fixed headrests. There’s a good amount of seat bolstering up front and out back you have just enough space for two adults in the outboard seats and maybe one small child in the center of the bench.

The cargo room is also a surprise for the class that the X1 falls into with 25.7 cubic feet with the rear 40/20/40 split seatbacks up in place. Fold them down, and you have 46.8 cubic feet of storage, all accessed through a power rear liftgate and a high enough loading floor.

Getting into the technology aspects of the new BMW X1, things are getting a little head-scratching as the latest iDrive system uses version 9 of the setup. Here, BMW seems to have lost its way with how you interact with a system that has potential but failed to live up to even its previous version of the iDrive setup. Some may enjoy the new setup, which lacks the physical iDrive controller in the new X1. Without the redundancy of controls through an iDrive controller knob and buttons, it only plays into the system being more complex than it had to be. There are way too many function sets and icons to find what you’re looking for in a quick manner, in addition to the system lacking the traditional iDrive controller where the X1 may not have had enough room to place such a controller. Either way, the system is initially complex, and even after a week of fiddling with the menu sets, you still second guess yourself for landing into the proper function for what you need to set or change. Even changing the start/stop feature for the engine shutting off at times when the vehicle comes to a stop to conserve fuel takes three steps to disable, and one of those steps involves pressing a physical button to bring up the menu to enter into the drive features – and then disable the start/stop feature.

I know BMW could do better with the infotainment system, which is otherwise very colorful and attractive through its high-resolution 10.7-inch touchscreen. The driver’s gauge cluster is almost equally colorful, having customized display setups that are displayed at the 10.25-inch display. There is also some customization of your infotainment screen to move icons and customize screens, which is somewhat helpful to make things simpler, which I believe may have been the goal for BMW, but in my opinion, they missed the boat.

There is a welcomed ease of integrating your smartphone through wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, in addition to having a thoughtful wireless charging pad that features a spring-loaded arm to hold your device in place – because you’re going to want to have a little lateral fun action in the X1 M35i xDrive.

Safety

BMW includes all the expected active safety features, which include the highlights of lane departure warning/lane keep assist, front collision warning and emergency braking, blind spot monitors, rear cross-path detection, and a clever 360-degree 3D surround-view camera system. Things get slightly elevated through BMW’s active driving assistant pro package, combining adaptive cruise control and lane centering with automatic lane changing, providing somewhat of a semi-autonomous driving mode but requiring your hands on the steering wheel.

Price

There’s really nothing inexpensive about luxury vehicles now days, and the new BMW X1 M35i xDrive reiterates such with a price that starts at $49,990. My nicely loaded-up test vehicle checking most of the option package boxes comes to a price of $58,595, which includes a destination charge of $995. The less powerful and less sporty base BMW X1 xDrive28i starts at $40,500 before any fees or options.

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