BMW X1 and 3 Series: welcome to the family
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BMW upgrades are an improvement inside and out
Although the new X1 and the facelifted 3 Series may appear, on the surface, to be very different vehicles, there is one very good reason BMW New Zealand chose to launch both at the same event. And that is their engines.
The new X1 and the refreshed 3 Series pack powerplants from BMW's new EfficentDynamics modular engine range. Available in three-, four- and six-cylinder configurations, the modular engine architecture has a common block shared between petrol and diesel variants and brings increases in power and efficiency to the range.
The X1 and 3 Series share petrol and diesel turbocharged 2-litre four-cylinder engines, which make up the entire X1 range and all except one of the 3 Series engines.
The revamped 3 Series range starts with the $72,000 320i sedan and the $75,000 Touring (wagon), both of which get the same 135kW/270Nm 2-litre petrol turbo engine and come standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, front fog lights and taillights, front and rear parking sensors with Park Assist, satellite navigation, a backing camera, heated front seats, BMW ConnectedDrive, lane departure warning, autonomous city braking, radar cruise control and an electric tailgate on the Touring.
The 320d sedan and Touring share identical specification to their petrol-powered siblings, but get the new 140kW/400Nm diesel turbo version of the modular four-cylinder engine. The 320d sedan also costs $72,000, and the 320d Touring is only available with BMW's excellent xDrive AWD system and costs $81,000.
The 330i is available in sedan form only and packs a 185kW/350Nm version of the four-cylinder petrol engine, and the 330d is wagon only, also with the AWD system. It is the only 3 Series to use a carried-over engine -- the mighty 190kW/560Nm 3-litre inline six-cylinder diesel turbo.
On the outside the X1 is very much improved. There's a strong X family resemblance and a far more muscular stance than the previous car. Photo / Damien O'Carroll
Both cars come standard with the 320 specification, but add 19-inch alloy wheels, a Sport Line package, front seat lumbar support, an upgraded navigation system, internet access, keyless entry and start and an upgraded audio system.
The 330i sedan costs $88,000 with the xDrive Touring costing $109,000. All 3 Series models also come standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Out on the road the 3 Series is still every bit as sharp a tool as it has always been, with subtle improvements brought about by BMW playing around with damper settings and tuning the power steering for the new model.
The biggest difference comes from the new four-cylinder turbo engines, both petrol and diesel. Both are smooth and seamlessly powerful. The 330i in particular packs a mighty punch.
The highlight of the range has to be the 320d xDrive Touring, however, giving a silky smooth, torquey performance and fantastic AWD ability.
Although there is little in the way of visual change to the 3 Series -- it gets the new LED lights, subtly redesigned bumpers, new colours and wheel designs, and the interior gets high-gloss black highlights -- the X1 really is all-new.
Redesigned to look far more like a member of the X family, the smallest BMW SUV is now sitting on a new platform. It is the same platform that sits under the 2 Series Active Tourer and the new Mini three- and five-door models.
In other words, the X1 is now also front-wheel drive. Well, apart from the 4WD models, that is, but even they get a different on-demand AWD system (BMW still calls it xDrive) that is predominantly FWD for the majority of the time.
The improved BMW 1 models look better on the inside as well as the outside. Photo / Damien O'Carroll
The new X1 is available locally with a choice of two sDrive FWD models and two xDrive AWD models with a range of diesel and petrol engines hooked up to the eight-speed auto.
The $65,500 sDrive18d kicks off the X1 range and comes with a 110kW/330Nm version of the 2-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engine. It comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, satellite navigation, BMW ConnectedDrive, an electric tailgate, leatherette seat upholstery, dual-zone climate air, front and rear parking sensors, parking assistant, a reversing camera and forward collision warning and autonomous braking.
The $72,000 sDrive20i and $76,500 xDrive20d come next. The sDrive 20i gets a 141kW/280Nm version of the 2-litre petrol four and the xDrive 20d getting a 140kW/400Nm version of the diesel.
Both share the same standard equipment as the 18d, but also get 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails and external trim in aluminium and heated front seats.
Topping the X1 range is the $83,500 xDrive25i that packs a 170kW/350Nm version of the petrol four and adds 19-inch alloy wheels, an M Sport package, high-gloss black exterior trim, sports front seats, leather seats, electric front seats and keyless entry to the standard X1 spec.
Photo / Damien O'Carroll
At the launch we sampled only the X1 xDrive 20d model with various options fitted.
On the outside the X1 is very much improved. There's a strong X family resemblance and a far more muscular stance than the previous car. Inside the improvement is even more drastic, the high-quality interior pleasantly modern and welcoming.
On the road the AWD xDrive 20d is a mixed bag and the diesel engine is, if anything, even better than in the 3 Series, but the FWD-biased dynamics fall somewhat short of what we have come to expect from BMW.
The same goes for ride quality and wind and road noise, all of which were somewhat disappointing for a BMW.
The roads we were driving on weren't the best New Zealand has to offer, but the 3 Series threw the X1 into stark contrast by being almost faultless over the same roads. The 3 Series is better than ever after its mid-life refresh, but the jury is still out on the new X1.
Its good properties would appear to outweigh its less good ones, but it remains to be seen by how much.