The gaping hole in BMW's performance SUV range has finally been plugged with 300hp X1 M35i
By John Howell / Wednesday, 28 June 2023 / Loading comments
‘The new BMW X1 M35i xDrive builds on the spontaneous driving pleasure that lies at the heart of the compact Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) concept with an injection of the dynamism, agility and precision for which M models are renowned.’ That’s a neat way of summing up the introduction of the X1 M35i, which, until now, was a glaringly obvious M-lite omission from BMW’s range.
It’s essentially an M135i xDrive on stilts, using the same basic underpinnings and 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder. BMW says it’s ‘the most potent incarnation of the four-cylinder petrol unit from the latest modular generation of engines’. That’s not quite true, though; not in Europe at least. Here, the X1 M35i has 300hp and 295lb ft of torque, so it’s not as pokey as the 306hp M135i. It’s the U.S. models that get the headline figure of 317hp. And with the X1 M35i weighing more than the hatchback, to the tune of 140kg, it’s not as quick. But quick enough to please most target buyers, we suspect, with 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph.
Interestingly, the M135i’s eight-speed auto isn’t carried over. The X1 M35i uses a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox – presumably to sharpen up the changes and responsiveness. It also has an ‘M Sport Boost’ function, activated when the driver pulls and holds the left-hand gearshift paddle for a second or more. This primes the variable powertrain and chassis systems to maximum-attack mode. BMW also says the X1 M35i produces an ‘emotionally rich soundtrack from the M-specific exhaust system’. We’ll have to wait and see if that emotion is joy, sadness, or something else entirely, but it does come with a set of 80mm-diameter tailpipes. And by a set, we mean four of them, which makes this the first M-lite model have the full M car quartet.
Other nods to performance include a mechanical limited-slip diff on the front axle, while an electro-hydraulic ‘hang on’ clutch helps divvy up the torque split to the rear axle in a matter of ‘milliseconds’. The suspension is 15 millimetres lower than the less sporty X1s, and uses frequency selective dampers rather than electronically controlled shocks. These alter their damping force mechanically by opening up different valves in the damper tube depending on the load applied. BMW says the X1 M35i is also the first M-lite model to feature M Compound brakes, which means you get a fixed, four-piston calipers at the front and 385-millimetre drilled discs. The rears aren’t as fancy, though, with single-piston, floating-calipers and 330-millimetre discs. That standard wheels are 19s and there’s a 20-inch option.
There’s the usual array of M styling cues inside and out, including M sports seats and a 12-o’clock marker on the steering wheel – just so you know where the wheels aiming when you’re hanging the tail out. Or not. Perhaps more useful is BMW’s uprated Operating System 9 for the 10.25in curved-display infotainment system. BMW’s been slowly but surely ruining its once benchmark iDrive, and these updates are maybe about to turn the tide and make its latest system easier to use. There’s still no return for the physical controller, though.
Expect the new X1 M35i to cost in the region of £45,000 when it arrives in U.K. showrooms, which will start happening at the end of this year.
- BMW M135i xDrive review
- BMW X3 M Competition review
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