BMW X1 On the Cheap

By Casey Williams, MyCarData
June 3, 2013 Updated: June 3, 2013

BMW’s new X1 crossover wagon is supposedly the entry-level Ultimate Driving Machine for the upwardly-striding NQR40s (that’s Not Quite Rich, Under 40). The car starts at $30,650 without destination, but when our tester arrived, it stickered at $44,245! Hardly cheap. But, I’ll show you how to get a great little Bimmer much closer to the magic $30k threshold and put some money back in your jeans.

I’d definitely keep the handsome style; it got plenty of attention—in all parts of town. I was actually surprised it garnered so much attention because to the untrained eye it looks like an X3 that was sat on by an X5. Our car’s M Sport Line package included 18-inch alloys and aggressive ground affects. Quad headlamps, tall kidney grille, and “Hofmeister kink” in the windowline are tres BMW.

On first glance, it is hard to complain about the interior. But, tap fingernails to surfaces and you quickly find where BMW cut costs. The doors and dashtops are plushly padded, but almost everything else is hard, hollow plastic. Close the glovebox and you’ll look for a Tupperware emblem. Over bumpy roads, all of that hard stuff rubs together with way too much squeaking.

The rest of the interior is fab. Heated leather seats are divine—luscious BMW softness with thick bolsters and extendable lower cushions. I’d dish more for those. All of the expected technology—iDrive, navigation, CD audio, satellite radio, auto wipers, Bluetooth, USB, and Panoramic moonroof—are delightful. Open the hatch and throw down the seats. There’s plenty of room for all you do.

Underway, the base 240 horsepower 2.0L turbo engine shows spirit. Enthusiasts could step up to the 300 horsepower six-cylinder, but that costs unnecessary money. Both engines connect to paddle-shifted, eight-speed, automatic transmissions. Activate the engine’s start/stop function and you’ll see 24/34-MPG city/hwy. Given its performance, the X1 is cheap to feed.

Regardless of price, the X1 drives like a BMW. An 18th Century monk would know he’s in one. Chassis motions are firm yet damped, Servotronic steering matches effort to speed, and the four-wheel discs grip like syrup to pancake. sDrive means no AWD, but you don’t really need it. The resulting lightness from not hauling the extra hardware makes for a better driving experience anyway.

So, how will we save money? I’d kill the $2,500 Technology Package (everything comes in a package) that includes navigation, voice-commands, and traffic updates. Buy a Garmin. Next, goes the $3,950 (!) Premium Package with universal garage-door opener, keyless entry, auto-dimming mirrors, power seats, and panoramic moonroof (I’ll miss that one, but for $3,950??). Bye-bye $1,200 lighting package with Xenon headlamps and ambience illumination. Same with the $950 Driver Assistance Package and its rear-view camera and parking beepers.

I like the M Sportline package, but for $3,000, Auf Wiedersehen!

I’ll keep the heated seats ($500) and Servoronic steering ($250). They’re not luxuries. All told, that brings the price to $32,645—not bad for a sweet driver’s car that leaves a plump piggy bank. Work on the plastic and nobody will call it cheap.

2013 BMW X1 sDrive28i
Five-passenger, RWD wagon
Powertrain: 240hp 2.0L Turbo I4, 8-spd auto trans.
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
Wheels: 18-in./18-in. alloy f/r
Brakes: disc/disc fr/rr with ABS
Must have features: Utility, performance
Fuel economy: 24/34 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Leipzig, Germany
Base/as-tested price: $30,650/44,245