The sporty crossover produces 312 horsepower and will start at under 50 grand. Interested yet?
BMW has taken the wraps off the all-new X1 crossover in M35i form, and it's motivated by the most powerful four-cylinder in the automaker's modular engine range at 312 hp. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger has seen numerous changes and reinforcements (including main bearing shells and caps from BMW's latest six-cylinder engines) and produces its peak power between 5,750 and 6,500 rpm. The peak torque figure of 295 lb-ft is available from 2,000-4,500 rpm.
As impressive as the punchy little motor is, there's a lot more to remark upon here, as this M Performance model breaks a lot of traditional M styling molds in its bid to stand out from everyday crossovers.
Before we get there, let's look at the headline specs. With a front-wheel-drive-biased xDrive AWD system, the X1 M35i is capable of 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds and can reach a top speed of 155 mph (with performance tires, 130 mph without).
Power is sent to the ground via a seven-speed dual-clutch Steptronic transmission with something called M Sport Boost, which can be activated by pulling and holding the lefthand-side shift paddle. This automatically puts all of the powertrain and chassis systems into their sportiest settings. Remarkably, the transmission also features a mechanical, not electronic, limited-slip differential, and BMW has added near-actuator wheel slip technology for quicker and more precise traction control intervention. As standard, the car also gets Adaptive M suspension and sport steering.
Not impressed? The X1 M35i is the first M Performance model to offer M Compound brakes as an option, featuring 15.2-inch drilled discs in front and 13-inch discs at the rear. These come in high-gloss grey, while regular M Sport brakes come in blue or red (with the M Sport Professional Package).
The design is once again something that purists may take issue with, but this time, it's not because the car is grotesque. No, it's the individual details that irk. Last year, BMW confirmed that M Performance cars (or M Lite models, if you prefer) would adopt a quartet of exhaust tips, as on full-fat M cars, albeit with a slightly different design. That dilution of M styling principles has now been manifested here with 3.1-inch tips.
Another M-inspired design choice is that of the double bars in the kidney grilles. BMW global design boss Adrian van Hooydonk said that each car would have its own kidney grille design a few months back, but he didn't tell us that M Performance models would get vertical bars, as on full-fat M cars of the last generation. Now that G-series M cars have horizontal bars, we guess it's okay.
M mirror caps with their twin-stalk design also appear here, while 19-inch 871M light alloy wheels are standard (20s optional).
Inside, BMW debuts iDrive with QuickSelect and Operating System 9. Unlike Mercedes, which tends to debut new tech on expensive models like the S-Class and let it filter down, BMW is doing the opposite. Yes, the new 5 Series gets iDrive 8.5, but the X1, X2, and Mini products get OS9 first.
With more people experiencing the tech in relatively affordable cars, BMW can make customer feedback-based improvements before presenting a polished product on high-end cars like the 7 Series. Complete with a curved display, the new layout's QuickSelect element allows one to find a function quickly without navigating through a submenu. Function icons on the driver side of the screen, shortcuts, and a simple home icon make it easier to interact with the system and find what you want quickly.
The cabin also boasts an Alcantara-trimmed instrument panel with Aluminum Hexacube Dark trim pieces, an anthracite-colored headliner, M pedals, M door sill trims, and an M paddle-shift steering wheel upholstered in leather. Sports seats trimmed in black Sensatec and Alcantara come with blue contrast stitching, or you can swap for Veganza leatherette upholstery. Another option is the electrically-adjustable M Sport seats with illuminated M headrest logos, another full-fat M feature.
Other highlights include dual-zone climate control, BMW Maps navigation, an automatic rear hatch, a Harman Kardon sound system, four USB-C ports, and two 12V sockets. Along with standard driving features like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and active park sensors, the X1 can be had with active cruise control, lane keep assist, and hands-free driving up to 37 mph, among other things. Augmented reality overlays for the navigation system are also possible, and remote upgrades will keep the car fresh and add new functions as they become available and if the customer wants them.
As for practicality, the rear seats fold in a 40:20:40 split, and each seat's tilt angle can be individually adjusted. When these seats are in place, you get 25.7 cubic feet of volume; when they're down, you get 46.9 ft3. Other practical considerations include LED headlights with cornering, wireless charging, and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Options include a remote start function, a panoramic moonroof, a head-up display, an interior camera, a surround-view camera, eucalyptus open-pore fine wood or aluminum mesh effect interior trim, heated seats, and a heated steering wheel.
Pricing starts at $49,900, excluding the $995 destination fee, and the US launch is scheduled for October 2023.
For most people, this presents a relatively affordable way into the frathouse of M ownership, but will the jocks in their M3s and M4s truly consider you one of their own? We doubt it, but we'd rather have three of these than a single XM.