BMW X1 xDrive35i
Engine: TwinPower Turbo Inline-6
Power: 300 hp @ 5,800rpms
Torque: 300 lb-ft @ 1,300-5,000 rpms
0-60: 5.3 seconds
Fuel Economy: 18 city/27 highway
Upon my arrival in Toronto, Canada, I was faced with the task of parallel parking a 2009 Honda Fit Sport that I have neglected to purchase proper winter tires for—on account of the incredibly mild winter, thus far—on a snowy hill late at night. Rather than going into intense and boring detail regarding the effort, I'll just sum it up: Not fun in the slightest. Luckily, for me, I didn't have to pull the pint-sized Japanese import out of its rut for a week, as I took delivery of a BMW X1 xDrive35i the next morning. Parking became supremely easy.
Before I had even driven it off of the street, I looked over the spec sheet, and was both impressed and appalled. Translated into American dollars via BMW's configurator, the X1 I drove costs $49,170. That's over $10,000 in options over a base X1 xDrive35i, which is not taking into account that the AWD and twin-turbo I6 are $1,700 and $6,100 options, respectively. Compared to the most basic X1 money can buy, this cost a staggering $18,370 extra. Please, bear that in mind when you hear what I'm about to say about this particular car, or if you find yourself in a BMW dealer.
No matter what the surface or incline, I never lost traction for even a moment in the X1. Parallel parking on a snowy hill was easy, but more importantly, putting my foot down in about eight inches of snow and slush while parked outside of a homeless shelter and some shady guy with a glass eye started slowly approaching me while glaring intently resulted in immediate and rapid acceleration—this car is expensive enough to attract the ire of a hobo, and quick enough to escape safely. The X1 shot off into the street and to the poutinerie down the street. The homeless guy there who informed me that he wasn't above taking a "26 cent quarta" when I told him I only had American change was much nicer to be around.
On the inside I was fairly comfortable, and the look and feel of everything was nice enough to inspire jealousy in the local peasantry. The leather was refined, and most of the surfaces were neatly finished, even though there were a few plastics that felt more Mini than BMW. The orange piping in my tester looked classy and added a lot of visual impact to the otherwise conservative styling. My biggest criticism of the interior comes in color scheme: I think the black on tan contrast will, in a decade, look about as good as fake wood paneling, it's trend will not age well.
However, appearance is trumped by performance, and the X1 was seriously quick—two tenths faster to 60 mph than the new Porsche Boxster—and handled superbly despite its higher center of gravity. That's the problem with the X1 though. While I was impressed by the speed, agility, AWD, comfort, practicality, and finish of the vehicle, mostly it just made me think "I bet the 135i xDrive is awesome." Nobody is going off-roading in a Bimmer X1, so for the things that I and the average buyer will/would use the car for—getting around the city, dealing with some snow, taking my wife paint balling for the first time, fleeing from violent hobos, and getting poutine—a lower ride height would improve handling and aerodynamics without sacrificing the capability in the snow; AWD and snow tires can easily handle anything you'll encounter in a city.
There you have it: The BMW X1 xDrive35i is good, and that means that the 135i xDrive is probably great.