The X1 rolls into 2014 with few changes. The Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system is now available as a standalone option. BMW Assist eCall and BMW TeleService are standard. And coral red leather with gray/black piping is available with the M Sport package...
The 3 Series is the heart and soul of BMW. It also has been the benchmark car in its category ever since it was first introduced in 1975. Until this year, the 3-series family included sedan, coupe, convertible, and wagon versions. A big change for 2014 is that BMW has split off the two-door coupe, giving it the new 4 Series label. (The convertible will be introduced soon as a 4 Series as well.) The 3 Series remains available as a four-door sedan, a wagon, and a new four-door hatchback (Gran Turismo). Currently absent from the lineup is the enthusiasts' favorite, the M3, but it should return sometime during 2014.
The X1 is one of the smallest crossover SUVs on the market. Compared with the X3, the X1 casts a shadow 6.5 inches shorter and 2.3 inches narrower; it's also 4.6 inches lower. This is a try-it-before-you-buy-it size. Buyers in urban areas or places where parking is at a premium may appreciate the smaller footprint. Those who regularly carry back-seat passengers, particularly adults, should check and make sure that they find the X1 rear seats adequate. There is sufficient space for two six-foot adults, but getting in and out is tight. Also, with the rear seats up, the cargo hold is no bigger than that of most sedans. Of course, that space can be expanded by folding the rear seatbacks -- they're conveniently split 40/20/40.
The baby Bimmer is also bargain priced -- the sDrive 28i is (just barely) the least expensive BMW you can buy. However, many expected items -- leather, heated seats, a rear-view camera, navigation -- all cost extra. The 28i uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that's peppy and fairly economical. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission (no manual is offered) and either rear-wheel drive (sDrive) or four-wheel drive (xDrive).
The six-cylinder X1 35i comes standard with four-wheel drive. Its 300 hp makes it a very brisk performer, zipping from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. Predictably, the 35i also gets additional standard equipment, such as a panoramic sunroof (which is commendably free of buffeting when opened), power seats, and xenon headlights. Both versions of the X1 are nimble performers, particularly for their class. The steering is firm and direct; the suspension is also firm and can be made even more so with the optional M Sport suspension (available on both models). Either way, the X1 is one of the sportiest small crossovers on the market, if not the most practical.
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