Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get any stranger, BMW created a twitterstorm of its own with the online launch of its most iconic performance model. The Munich, Germany-based automaker took the wraps…

BMW reveals dramatic new M3 and M4 with optional AWD

2021 BMW M3 and M4
The new 2021 BMW M3 and M4, shown here in top-tier Competition trim, offer up a radical new design and strong performance gains.

Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get any stranger, BMW created a twitterstorm of its own with the online launch of its most iconic performance model. The Munich, Germany-based automaker took the wraps off an entirely new 2021 M3 sport sedan and M4 coupe on Tuesday, September 22, with the resultant global buzz near palpable.

To merely call them “bold” or “dramatic” would be understating the truth bomb they represent, as the unconventional new designs are at the very least polarizing. Stylistically, the all-new M3 (G80) and M4 (G82) seem to be reaching far back into BMW’s history, pulling frontal design cues from the mid-‘60s 2000 C and 2000 CS sport coupes that rode on the back of the brand’s then New Class architecture, which also included the 1500 and 1600 sedans with similar, albeit smaller grilles. While beautiful from their hood lines and front fenders rearward, plus in fact introducing the beloved Hofmeister kink to the rear quarter windows and eventually resulting in the now iconic and highly collectable E9 range of coupes produced from ‘68 to ‘75, the 3.0 CSi being most notable and the CSL most sought after, earlier examples suffered from a deep, rounded bucktooth-like kidney grille that was never as palatable to the majority of collectors as coupe models that followed or came before.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
The M3 appears easier on the eyes in this subdued dark green colour, but the bright yellow-green really grabs the eyeballs.

That latter point in mind, the brand’s head of design, Domagoj Dukec (and company), may have been looking further back to BMW’s 309, 319, 320, 321, 328 and 329 models of the mid-to-late ‘30s and early ‘40s, whose tall radiators come closer to matching the size of the new M offerings. Either way, their choices for historical inspiration may cause some would-be M car buyers to take pause.

After all, previous fifth- and first-generation M3/M4 (F80/F82/F83) and original E30-based M3 aside (the former more aggressively penned than its predecessors and the latter whose coke-bottle hips made it stand out from its slab-sided 318i donor), M3s have always been subtle in their approach to styling, preferring moderate visual cues only enthusiasts would notice over the types of radical lower body cladding, ducts and wings found on pumped up versions of some rivals. Not so anymore.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
Will the new M cars’ inventive front fascia grow on would-be buyers? BMW no doubt believes so.

This said, we do love our beavers in Canada, so the new M3 and M4’s aggressive overbite could become very popular north of the 49th. Along with the largest twin kidney grille design ever offered on a modern-day BMW product (it might even be larger than the aforementioned ‘30s-era models), the two new performance cars provide similarly sleek lines to their predecessors from headlamps to taillights, plus key M design elements elsewhere, such as the front fender engine vents, double-post side mirror housings, carbon fibre roof tops, and aggressive rear diffusers.

If it looks fast it better be fast, right? Fortunately, BMW fans have considerably more straight-line performance to celebrate with these sixth- and second-generation M cars, the respective base, or rather “core” M3 and M4 capable of rocketing from standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.2 seconds before attaining a top speed of 250 km/h, or 290 km/h when the M Driver’s Package is chosen. Even more importantly the core models can blast from 80 to 120 km/h in a mere 4.1 seconds when their standard six-speed manual transmissions are placed in fourth gear.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
Rear styling should be easily accepted by all, and this is the vantage point most people will be looking at anyway.

If that’s not enough, buck up for one of the even more potent M3 and M4 Competition models to see that zero to 100 km/h time drop by 0.3 seconds to a sub-four 3.9-second sprint, while an unfathomable 1.5 seconds gets axed off the two quicker cars’ 80 to 120 km/h passing maneuverability, the feat accomplished in a surprising 2.6 seconds according to BMWblog.com.

All of this speed comes via two versions of a new 3.0-litre TwinPower Turbo S58 inline six-cylinder powerplant, both receiving mono-scroll turbochargers featuring quick-reacting electronically-controlled wastegates as well as highly efficient air-to-water intercooling. Like the outgoing S55 twin-turbo I-6, these are built upon BMW’s well-proven B58 engine architecture introduced in 2015. The base engine used in M3 and M4 core models makes 48 horsepower more than their previous generation for a total of 473 horsepower at 6,250 rpm, while faster Competition versions put out an additional 59 ponies for a total of 503 horsepower, also at 6,250 rpm (redline is 7,200 rpm, which is lofty unless you’re stepping out of a 2007 to 2013 E90/E92/E93 M3 whose glorious V8 spun up to a stratospheric 8,400 rpm).

2021 BMW M3 Competition
A longer wheelbase and wider track enhance style and performance.

No doubt, the two M models’ four 100-millimetre tailpipes will be exhilarating to the ears, but BMW has included electrically controlled flaps via an M Sound button in order to reduce sound levels when wanting more comfort than speed, while choosing SPORT or SPORT+ modes results in the opposite effect.

Allowing the engine to rev freely, wire-arc sprayed cylinder liners reduce friction and weight, while a lightweight forged crankshaft lowers rotating mass, both of which are set into a rigid closed-deck engine block. In the inline-six engine’s cylinder head incorporates a 3D-printed core that provides improved coolant flow-through as well as reduced weight.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
What do you think of the M4’s massive twin-kidney grille? Cool or meh?

Torque in core models is the same as with the last iteration at 406 lb-ft between 2,650 and 6,130 rpm (which is a bit higher than the previous model’s minimum max torque range of 1,850 to 5,500 rpm), incidentally, but Competition cars get an increase of 73 lb-ft for a new max of 479 between 2,750 and 5,500 rpm, hence the impressive performance mentioned a moment ago.

As usual the aforementioned six-speed manual gearbox comes standard, complete with a rev-matching Gear Shift Assistant to make any driver seem as if they’re blipping the throttle like a pro while downshifting, but the move up to Competition trim necessitates the brand’s eight-speed M Steptronic automated transmission with Drivelogic. Drivelogic consists of a trio of driving modes including “ROAD”, “SPORT” and “TRACK”, the latter available after also choosing the cars’ M Drive Professional setting. The M Steptronic transmission can be shifted via paddles, of course, while a true manual mode won’t allow any automatic upshifts at all.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
No doubt these pipes sound amazing!

As has always been the case, the M3 and M4 come standard with rear-wheel drive, but for the first time ever new Competition models will also be available with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. The rear-wheel biased AWD design transfers torque to the rear wheels under normal conditions, but the system’s Active M Differential will apportion some of that power to the front tires when wheel slip occurs, thus allowing optimal traction while maintaining BMW’s acclaimed RWD feel.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
Better in white with classic M decals and plenty of M Performance parts?

This said, the previously noted sport mode will send more power to the rear wheels more often in order to liven up the driving experience, even allowing for some rear-wheel drift or oversteer, while those who really know what they’re doing can turn off traction control to enjoy full rear-wheel drive. All can be controlled via the two M cars’ M Traction Control system, which provides 10 different settings from almost total intervention to completely unchecked.

If the new cars look longer, lower and leaner than their immediately outgoing predecessors, take note they receive a 45-millimetre longer wheelbase and a slightly wider track, while the standard carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) roof panel helps to lower their centre of gravity and achieve 50/50 front to rear weight distribution.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
Black might be the optimal shade for those wanting a more discreet look.

Like the transmission, the M3 and M4’s chassis receives three preset settings for optimizing road conditions via an electronically-controlled Adaptive M suspension that includes Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus settings. Along with a progressively stiffer setup, BMW’s M Servotronic steering system improves its sharpness for better response, aided by 275/40ZR18 front and 285/35 ZR19 rear performance tires on Core and rear-wheel drive Competition trims, and 275/35ZR19 front and 285/30ZR20 rear rubber on the xDrive Competition model.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
The new M3’s cabin looks impressive.

Of course, braking performance has been improved to match the cars’ engine and suspension upgrades, with six-piston fixed-caliper binders clamping down on 380 mm discs up front, and single-piston floating calipers with 370 mm disks in the rear. Alternatively, M Carbon ceramic brakes with larger 400 mm front and 380 mm rear discs can be had for optimal stopping power. These reduce fade, improve thermal stability and take a lot longer to wear out, not to mention come with gold-painted calipers instead of the usual stock blue, or optional black or red. Either way, an electric “integrated braking” actuator helps improve braking response.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
The M4’s controls look ready for the track.

The just noted M Carbon ceramic brakes can reportedly be had as part of an M Race Track Package as well, which also includes light-alloy wheels and lightweight M Carbon front seats. Also mentioned before, the M Drive Professional upgrade, standard with Competition models and optional with Core models, incorporates an M Drift Analyzer that records oversteer and opposite lock incidents, including timed duration, line and drift angle. A driver’s personal results are rated from one star to five, with the latter number meaning you need to keep trying.

The new 2021 M3 and M4 will arrive in Canada this coming spring at $84,300 for the sedan and $85,100 for the coupe, with pricing and details for the upcoming M4 Cabriolet arriving sometime in between. A move up to Competition trim appears to be a surprisingly good deal at just $4,000, and for that reason will likely be the most popular choice.

2021 BMW M4 Competition
Have you ever seen a better OEM sport seat?

As for how BMW’s faithful will accept the M3 and M4’s new design direction, it’s a mixed bag. All out praise is rare, but some potential buyers seem to love the new models’ eye-catching styling. Either way, there’s much to be said about standing out from the crowd, and BMW certainly achieves this with their new frontal designs.

Those wanting the performance of a new M3 or M4 yet preferring a subtler look should take note of the sport sedan version wearing all-black (including extra carbon fibre) in a number of images provided for the simultaneous introduction of the two cars’ M Performance Parts catalogue. A red and black M3 is shown too, as well as a white and traditionally M-striped M4 with many of the catalogue’s new OEM parts shown, the massive rear wing and triangular cluster of diffuser-mounted exhaust ports enough to make a Honda Civic R owner blush from inadequacy.

2021 BMW M3 Competition
The M3 and M4’s gigantic grille feeds air into this fabulous inline-6.

If the new M3 and M4 are too radical for your personal tastes, be sure to check out CarCostCanada that is showing up to $2,000 in additional manufacturer incentives on 2020 models. The 2020 Ms are still incredibly quick and plenty attractive, plus CarCostCanada also provides manufacturer rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. Learn more about CarCostCanada’s many ways to save money on a new vehicle, and remember to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.

BMW Today – Episode 25: World premiere BMW M3 & M4 (13:15):

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: BMW

BMW’s X1 was the very first subcompact luxury crossover SUV ever produced, having arrived on the European scene in 2009 as a 2010 model, two years before we saw it as a 2012. Even when it showed up…

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i Road Test

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The good looking second-generation BMW X1 has struck a chord with entry-level luxury SUV buyers, making it most popular by far. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

BMW’s X1 was the very first subcompact luxury crossover SUV ever produced, having arrived on the European scene in 2009 as a 2010 model, two years before we saw it as a 2012. Even when it showed up on our shores in April of 2011, nothing else was around to compete against it, unless you consider the near-luxury Mini Countryman as a direct rival, that model having arrived in February of the same year.

Once October 2011 rolled around, the Range Rover Evoque entered the market and a new automotive category was created, but it would take another three years for Audi and Mercedes-Benz to add more variety to North America’s new subcompact luxury SUV segment with their respective Q3 and GLA-Class (unless you count the Buick Encore that arrived in 2013), plus an additional two years for Infiniti to show up with its QX30 (not that many noticed), three more for Jaguar’s E-Pace, Volvo’s XC40 and BMW’s second offering, the sportier X2, and one more for Lexus’ new UX.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The new design, introduced for the 2018 model year, is a lot more in line with its larger X3 and X5 siblings. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

More are on the way, including Alfa Romeo’s Tonale for 2022, and possibly something eventually from Acura (long rumoured to be called the CDX), but Infiniti has already cancelled its QX30 so Acura may have been wise to hold out. Then again, aforementioned Buick has done very well with its Encore, and while the brand sits at the lowest end of the premium market in price and prestige, the model’s upcoming second-generation (expected for 2020) could make an even bigger dent in the market.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
Sporty yet classy styling comes standard with every X1. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

If we were to consider Buick a true luxury brand the Encore be the sales leader in this category, but with a base price of $28,400 (not even as high as the Mini Countryman’s base of $31,690) it’s not really a contender for premium status. Buick sold 10,637 Encores in 2018 and 8,322 as of October 31, 2019, which represents considerably more buyers than BMW has been able to find with its second-bestselling X1, which found 5,308 buyers in 2018 and 3,753 so far this year. The X1 starts at $41,500, however, so it’s not really a fair comparison. One is a gussied up Chevy Trax that delivers big on fuel economy and reasonably on features, but not so much on performance or refinement, and the other is a leader in all of the above (see 2019 BMW X1 pricing at CarCostCanada, where you can learn about all its packages and individual options in detail, plus find out about valuable rebate information as well as dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, BMW currently offering up to $2,000 in additional incentives on 2019s and $1,000 on the new 2020 model).

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
Our tester should’ve worn 19s, but seasonal conditions necessitated a set of 18-inch winters. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To be fair to Buick, some of the X1’s rivals wouldn’t have initially received high marks in all the just-noted categories. Audi’s first-generation Q3 was a bit weak on performance and refinement, and honestly the original X1 was regularly criticized by pundits for cheaper interior plastics than any other BMW, my first review of this model claiming that Ford’s Escape Titanium “even offers more soft-touch interior surfaces than this X1.” I lauded the X1 for its overall solidity and performance, mind you, both important differentiators expected from premium SUVs.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
Sharp lens detailing make these LED taillights stand out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The X1, now in its second generation and ironically having traded its lovely rear-wheel drive E91 3 Series Touring-platform (arguably its best asset) in for the aforementioned Mini Countryman’s second-gen front-wheel drive-biased UKL2 architecture (hardly a slouch either), today’s entry-level BMW SUV is a wholly different vehicle than its predecessor. It started out as a low, hunkered down, rear-wheel drive-biased AWD five-door crossover, but now it’s grown up into a much more conventionally shaped and sized subcompact luxury SUV, looking a lot more like its larger X3 and X5 siblings. Its considerable sales growth in 2016 and 2017 back up BMW’s decision to take the X1 in this new direction, and while deliveries dipped a bit in 2018 and so far this year, this probably has more to do with BMW’s introduction of the X2 than anything else, while more importantly it’s managed to remain in its number one position (amongst true subcompact luxury SUVs) even without factoring in the X2.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The X1’s interior is a cut above most rivals. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Specifically, the X1’s aforementioned year-to-date Canadian sales of 3,753 units is considerably higher than the second-place GLA’s 3,021 deliveries over the same 10 months, and likewise when compared to Lexus’ new UX that’s already taken third-place way from Audi’s Q3 with 2,374 units against 2,303. As for the success of the also-rans, Volvo’s new XC40 managed 1,690 units, Land Rover’s redesigned Range Rover Evoque secured 1,333 new buyers, BMW’s own X2 attracted 1,159 new owners, and Jaguar’s E-Pace wasn’t last (yet) with 372 customers, while Infiniti’s now discontinued QX30 brought up the rear with 93 deliveries (too bad, because it’s more than decent offering).

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
High quality materials join a sporty, well-appointed cockpit. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

BMW shows its dominance even more when combining X1 and X2 sales that reached 4,912 units at the close of October, and that’s even before adding in the 2,082 Countryman (should we call them Countrymen?) SUVs sold over the same three-and-a-third quarters (most of which reach into the mid-$40k range), boosting deliveries to almost 7,000 units (6,994), they almost tally up to everything Mercedes, Lexus and Audi (2, 3 and 4 in the category) can sell combined (7,698 units). Ah, the sweet smell of success.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
These classic BMW dials appear to float overtop a digital background. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The smell of my tester was leather thanks to its beautiful milk chocolate brown Mocha Dakota Leather upholstered cabin, the $950 upgrade from base leatherette requisite when opting for its pretty $895 Mediterranean Blue Metallic exterior paint (the satin aluminum silver trim across the front and rear undertrays plus the rocker panels comes standard, while optional Oyster Grey and Black leather interiors are also available with this colour). The open-pore Oak Grain wood inlays with chrome and brush-metal highlights are no-cost bonuses that make the cabin look so upscale (additional woods, brushed aluminum and piano black lacquered inlays can be had too) as are all the high-quality soft-touch composite surfaces that step the X1 up and over most rivals.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
This upgraded Sport steering wheel incorporates paddle-shifters. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To be real, Dakota leather is BMW’s lower grade hide, but Nappa and Merino aren’t offered with the X1. It’s still the real deal, however, but it can be corrected-grain or even formed from the leather split and then coated with synthetic polymer paint, with its surface artificially embossed for a grain effect. What matters is it smells right, looks good and lasts, with the X1’s seat inserts even perforated for breathability. The seats didn’t include forced ventilation or anything so fancy, but the three-way front derriere warmers heated up to therapeutic levels quickly when set to their topmost temperature, adding a coziness to the already comfortable driver’s seat.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The centre stack is well laid out and filled with features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The front driver and passenger four-way lumbar support isn’t standard, but rather comes as part of two available packages, the first a $3,500 upgrade dubbed Premium Package Essential that also includes power-folding side mirrors, proximity-sensing keyless Comfort Access, auto-dimming centre and side mirrors, a large panoramic sunroof, a “HiFi” audio system, and an alarm, and the second as-tested $5,900 Premium Package Enhanced including everything above plus a head-up display, a universal remote, satellite radio, navigation, BMW’s semi-autonomous Park Assistant, the BMW ConnectedDrive Services Package, and a powered liftgate.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The centre touchscreen’s tile interface let’s you choose between multiple functions readily at your fingertips. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Both packages are also available with a heatable steering wheel, plus a $1,000 Driving Assistant Plus package that adds approach warning with pedestrian alert and light city braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go plus traffic jam assist, high-beam assist, and speed limit info.

Now that we’re talking upgrades, my tester also included a $950 Sport Performance Package featuring a Sport automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddles (worth the upgrade alone), more reactive M Sport Steering, and 19-inch alloy wheels, although my tester was smartly outfitted for this colder season and therefore included a set of 225/50R18 Continental ContiWinterContact tires on special M Sport split five-spoke alloys.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The navigation system provided very accurate route guidance, and one of the more detailed maps in the industry. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As anyone who’s driven on winter rubber will know, performance on anything but snow or ice is compromised, and therefore my tester’s at-the-limit grip couldn’t possible measure up to the stock wheel and tire combination. This said it proved more agile than the same SUV shod in 17-inch winter tires for my 2016 X1 xDrive28i review, which were smaller due to the older model coming with 18s in base trim.

Not much else seems to have changed since then, however, which obviously (by the aforementioned sales numbers) doesn’t matter to X1 buyers, or for that matter to me. The model’s only engine, a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, still makes 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, potent when sidled up beside some of its rivals, like a Lexus UX or the base Mercedes GLA, but nowhere near as energetic as the latter model in 375-horsepower AMG trim, or for that matter top-line versions of the Jaguar E-Pace, Range Rover Evoque or Volvo XC40, but once again popularity proves this isn’t an issue.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The upper row of controls are for audio and infotainment functions, while the lower interface is primary for the dual-zone auto HVAC system. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I found it more than adequately powered, especially with Sport mode engaged, which meant the standard ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission responded more immediately to shifts, whether prompted by its paddles or left to its own devices. All-wheel drive is standard, and in the wet improved grip off the line and mid-turn, while the little utility feels poised compared to some in this class, but not as agile as the aforementioned AMG GLA 45, for instance, or its predecessor that was little more than a raised 3 Series wagon. More importantly, today’s X1 is more comfortable than its predecessor and many competitors, whether the powertrain is set to more relaxed Comfort or Eco modes or not, its ride particularly good for such a compact SUV. Eco mode in mind, claimed fuel economy is even decent at 10.7 L/100km in the city, 7.5 on the highway and 9.3 combined.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The 8-speed automatic provides quick, smooth shifts. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

It’s actually one of the more well-rounded entry-level SUVs in the premium sector, and amongst the most practical. Along with the comfortable front seats, the lower cushions even including adjustable side bolsters and manual thigh extensions, the steering column provided at least four inches of reach that, together with the amply adjustable driver’s seat, allowed my long-legged, shorter-torso five-foot-eight frame to fit in ideally, optimizing both comfort and control (this is often not the case). The aforementioned four-way powered lumbar support aided comfort, especially during long hauls, while the adjustable side bolsters cupped the torso nicely and the thigh extensions added support under the knees. BMW has thought of just about everything to make the X1’s front occupants comfortable.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The front seats are two of the most comfortable in the subcompact luxury SUV class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The rear passenger compartment is more accommodating than you might think for a vehicle in this class too, while the outboard backrests are plenty supportive and centre position not wholly uncomfortable (normally the case with subcompacts). Two is better in back, however, allowing a wide (albeit slightly low) centre armrest with smallish pop-out cupholders to be folded down in between. When positioned behind the driver’s seat, which once again was extended further rearward than for most five-foot-eight folks, allowing approximately four inches ahead of my knees, at least another four to five above my head, plus about four next to my hips and shoulders. I certainly never felt cramped.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The optional panoramic sunroof is well worth its upgrade price. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Of course the large panoramic sunroof overhead made for a much more open and airy rear passenger experience, while the LED reading lights overhead can add light at night if those in back want to read. There were no seat heaters in back, a bit of a letdown, but on the positive the rear quarters are finished just as nicely as those up front.

The cargo compartment is nicely finished as well, with high-quality carpeting up the sides of each wall, on the cargo floor, of course, which can be removed to expose a large hidden stowage area, plus on the backsides of the ideally 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks. If you have any intention of using your future SUV for skiing, or any other type of activity that might have you carrying longer cargo down the centre with passengers in back should consider this more flexible cargo configuration. BMW provides 505 litres (17.8 cubic feet) of dedicated gear-toting space behind those seatbacks, and gives you a convenient set of levers to drop them down, resulting in a sizeable 1,550 litres (54.7 cubic feet) of total capacity.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
Rear seat roominess and comfort is excellent, but it’s missing rear seat heaters. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Back in the driver’s seat, the X1’s primary instrument cluster consists of the usual two analogue dials, although they appear as if floating within a colourful digital background, which looks really nice when lit up at night. Of course that background is a multi-information display at centre, plus warning lights, info about the active cruise control and more around the outer edges.

2019 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The X1’s 40/20/40-split rear seatback is a dealmaker for active lifestyles. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Propped up at the centre leading edge of the sloping dash-top is a beautiful wide high-definition display with fabulous depth of colour and contrast, and stimulating graphics. Unlike most premium rivals that don’t include touchscreens, BMW’s display is fully capacitive, allowing tap, pinch, and swipe capabilities just like a tablet or smartphone. You can also use the traditional iDrive rotating controller and surrounding buttons on the lower console for quick control. It’s an intelligent system, expected from the brand that initiated modern infotainment way back in the early aughts, while all the functions performed flawlessly including the route guidance that got me to my destinations perfectly each time. The upgraded audio system was very good too, and included a power/volume knob and row of quick-access radio presets just below a set of HVAC vents positioned under the display, and just above a comprehensive dual-zone auto climate control interface. Everything is well laid out, adding to the X1’s all-round goodness.

As is always the case, vehicles don’t become number one in their respective classes by accident, which is why anyone contemplating a small luxury SUV should seriously consider BMW’s X1.

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