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2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga

2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga

ANN ARBOR, Mich 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga

The 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga has changed meaningfully for its third generation. BMW decided that bigger is better for this subcompact crossover, and has extended it in length, width, height and track, making it not only roomier, but more stable on the road. Bolder is better for gen 3 too, with a redesigned exterior that gives the X1 more presence while being easy on the eyes, and an interior that feels interesting and inviting, but also modern in both design and technology. Not a bad formula, at least at first glance 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga.

2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga

To specifically account for the extra size, the new X1 is a total of 1.7 inches longer with a 0.9-inch increase in wheelbase. It’s also 0.9 inches wider and 1.7 inches taller. Finally, the front and rear wheel tracks have been extended by 0.8 inches 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga.

The X1’s twin kidney grille is large, yes, but its square shape is considerably more appealing than the prominent, oversized nostrils on other Bimmer faces. And the thick nose has a nice slope, with the elegant headlights tucked under the hood at the top. The profile has a decidedly better silhouette, with more muscular proportions and a longer hood. The lines at the rear have been tucked in nicely, and we like the streamlined look of the taillights and the square corners of the bumper 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga. 

2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga


Inside, that step up in size gives passengers more room, but the subcompact segment limitations remain: The passenger seat still needs to be moved forward quite a bit to fit a rear-facing child seat behind it. The sport front seats (optional) are quite comfortable and offer good support for the lower back and shoulders. Rear cargo space is smaller on paper, down from 27.1 cubic feet in 2022 to 25.7 cubic feet in 2023, but we’ll have to wait for West Coast editor James Riswick to perform one of his luggage tests before we’re willing to declare it less useful (at least he can say at this moment that BMW’s load numbers are rarely comparable to the industry at large). We appreciate the versatility of the 40/20/40 split rear seats 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga.

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The overall decor is also much more interesting, with lots of visual intricacies – interesting materials and textures – that make it fun to explore with your eyes, without looking too busy, over-thought or under-thought. We wouldn’t mind a secondary controller for the infotainment system that BMW has used for years (the familiar and affective iDrive steering wheel is gone), but it helps that the touchscreen is slightly tilted towards the driver. The floating center armrest is a smart design element, as is the smaller, gear-style shifter on top of it, and there’s useful storage below. At the bottom of the center stack is an almost upright plane that you can rest on and wirelessly charge (if so equipped) your phone, place it where it can be easily seen if you use it for directions. It is appreciated that this area does not invite the storage of other debris that can clutter the cabin and block the charger 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga.

 This uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that sends power to four wheels via a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that replaces the outgoing eight-speed traditional automatic. We have no word on the possibility of a sportier M version, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed, as this generation seems more suited to it. As the name suggests, xDrive all-wheel drive is standard, but like the latest X1 (and unlike the original), the gen 3 is underpinned by a front-wheel drive platform 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga.

Stepping on the right pedal takes a beat before much happens, but then the 2.0-liter engine wakes up and roars to life. From then on, it proves to be a good fit for the X1. With 241 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, up from 228 hp and 258 from 2022, the extra power pays dividends as BMW didn’t add any significant weight to the X1 (the curb weight increased by a trivial 24 pounds for 2023) 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga. 

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The dual-clutch transmission does its job quickly and smoothly, and we never found the X1 scrambling for the right gear. Paddle shifters were a notable exception in our tester, although they are available with the M Sport package, which we hope to try soon, as it also includes an adaptive suspension, a stylish M steering wheel and a number of other goodies. It also meant we missed out on the Sport Boost feature, which puts the car in its sportiest settings when you hold the left paddle. Still, we were happy to leave the thinking to the car itself and appreciated the simplicity of design and function of leaving the paddles out of the bill. Interestingly, there is no ’P’ option to accompany the ’RNDL’ on the gear selector on the center console 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga.

When it comes time to slow things down, there’s a slightly frustrating lack of linearity from the brake pedal. The brakes suddenly decide to bite hard, resulting in a jerky stop. It’s strange and not something we’ve experienced in other BMWs we’ve driven recently. Good, we thought, we can get used to sensitive brakes. However, after a week with the car, we still found it difficult to brake the X1 smoothly. Maybe a month of ownership would 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportigaremedy that. 

But what might be a problem when you’re trying to keep a liter of milk from rolling around the cargo area on the way from the grocery store becomes an asset in spirited driving. There’s no need to coax this thing to slow down with a heavy foot, just give it the left pedal order and the X1 is happy to comply with enthusiastic stopping power. It’s great when you’re trying to prepare for the fast-approaching sharp corner 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga.

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And in these corners, the X1 is eager to show you that it can outdo its competition as a driver’s companion. The steering doesn’t offer a lot of feel or feedback, which is unfortunately a BMW trait now, but despite being a little lulled, it’s appropriately weighted, and the precise response from the front wheels still makes for a rewarding and engaging drive. It’s hard to disturb it with quick transitions from one turn to the next, and the supportive sports seats help keep the driver firmly in place behind the wheel. Bravo 2023 BMW X1 First Drive Review: Den sportiga.


The X1’s sure footing doesn’t disappear when the roads get wet or snowy. Its all-wheel-drive system reacts quickly and quietly to low-traction situations, keeping the nose pointed in the right direction without drama, noise or even a significant loss of acceleration as it corrects for wheel slip.

 The standard suspension is good at filtering out the many glaring imperfections of Michigan’s winter-damaged roads. Even at highway speeds, it can skim over gnarly potholes without sending a jolt through either the seat or the steering wheel. The longer wheelbase improves straight-line stability, but isn’t enough to make it feel much bigger in a tight parking spot – one of the great things about the subcompact SUV set.

 It’s the luxury crossover we’d choose in this segment if our priority was handling – or looks – even over the otherwise recommended Mercedes GLB or Volvo XC40. And there’s nothing about the comfort or the technology that would steer us away from it either. Our only quibble comes from the sometimes awkward responses from both the gas and brake pedals. The initial delay in acceleration and the sharp reaction later in the braking run require increased effort on the part of the driver to drive around town smoothly. Still, they are quirks that most drivers can be persuaded to get used to for what is otherwise an attractive, comfortable and sporty package.


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