The X1 has all-wheel drive, or xDrive as BMW calls it, which uses a multi-plate clutch and hydraulic pump system to send up to 100 percent of engine power to the rear wheels when needed—in less than a quarter of a second.
At ease in slick conditions—though not in the enthusiast sense
As we pushed this model hard up a steep, somewhat ran-slicked section of esses, we found the X1’s traction systems to be a little slow to react. Out of each tight corner, the front inside wheel momentarily scrambled, whereas if the system had kept some power to the rear wheels the situation would have been more stable.
Yet we also recently had the chance to drive a different X1 on a damp off-road course that included a mix of rutted two-track and seriously loose, muddy stretches; and there it fared much, much better. The X1’s modest 7.2-inch ground clearance might be a hurdle in some cases, but we loved the confident traction here. There’s no special mode required here; you just keep driving, and the system figures out all the details.
2016 BMW X1 - First Drive - April 2016Enlarge Photo
The seating in the X1 takes a bit of getting used to—and even once we’d spent the better part of a week in the X1 we still can’t say we were happy with the way that the front seats are positioned.
Terrible front seats. Really, BMW?
From the perspective of a tall, long-legged editor, the X1’s front seats are terrible—as in, not just worse than we’ve encountered in any BMW in our long-term memory, but worse than those of any nearly any current vehicle. They’re woefully inadequate in thigh bolstering, and focused all the pressure on butts in a way that might be fine in a short-distance electric car, but not in a vehicle some might occasionally take cross-country. Back support was also thinner than we’ve encountered in other BMWs.
The back seats may actually be more comfortable. No joke; they’re easy to get into, thanks to generous door cuts, and I had no problem fitting in the outboard positions. It’s a quite narrow vehicle so don’t count on fitting three across.
Oddly, the fully adjustable, reclining and sliding-fore-and-aft seat arrangement is a $300 option. We can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want it.
The dash of the X1 is close to what you’ll see in other BMW models by layout, yet it’s positioned in an entirely different place relative to the front occupants—lower, which combined with the relatively thin pillars, affords you a pretty great view around.