The second-generation X1 competes against rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3.
While its predecessor looks like a jacked-up 1 Series hatchback, the new X1 is more proportionate-looking all round, and its front end is more aggressive now.
The car is powered by a turbo petrol 2-litre like its predecessor, but the new engine has a higher output of 192bhp (versus 184bhp) and 280Nm (versus 270Nm). It is also more frugal on paper (16.4km per litre versus 14.7km).
The engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic carried over from the previous X1. Rather unusually for a BMW, power is channelled to its front wheels.
Thankfully, the new X1 maintains a distinct “BMW-ness” in how it handles. The steering is crisp and sharp, while gearchanges are smooth and responsive to throttle input. The car also feels faster than the official 7.7-second century sprint timing.
The drivetrain offers three drive modes: Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport. In Eco Pro mode , the transmission is a little too eager to upshift for my liking. To sample the free-revving engine, you should switch to Sport, although it will be at the expense of economy.
Sport mode does not turn the X1 into a sportster, though. When driven spiritedly around corners, the height of the car causes discernible but not disconcerting body roll.
Despite its compact size, it is rather roomy. Even though the new car is shorter than its predecessor by 38mm, rear passengers get 37 to 66mm more legroom. The increase varies because the rear seats can slide forward and backwards.
While the rear legroom has improved, the rear seats are best reserved for two adults and a child.
With the rear seats folded down, the boot capacity increases from 505 to 1550 litres. This rivals the load-lugging capacity of the Volvo XC60, a bigger vehicle.
This vehicle has factory-fitted frills such as LED headlights, reverse camera, handsfree tailgate and a navigation system with real-time traffic information that guides drivers out of jams.
Overall, it is a practical car that will draw new buyers to the BMW stable with its price tag.
At just $11,000 more than the entry-level 318i sedan, I would pick the X1 20i over the 318i in a heartbeat for its practicality and design.
ENGINE 1998cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 192bhp at 5000-6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 280Nm at 1250-4600rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 129.3bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100km/h 7.7 seconds
TOP SPEED 225km/h
CONSUMPTION 16.4km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 136g/km
PRICE INCL. COE $191,800 (no CEVS rebate/surcharge)